Keiser University is celebrating its 35th anniversary by giving away $1 million in new scholarships and becoming a nonprofit institution.
The switch in status is a result of the university that serves more than 18,000 students on 15 campuses across Florida — including one in Sarasota — being bought out by Everglades College, a nonprofit that owns Everglades University in Boca Raton.
The new scholarships are in addition to $14 million the school has awarded this year. Recipients will include students who are the first in their family to go to university, veterans, and students who demonstrate exceptional entrepreneurial or science and technology skills.
The switch to nonprofit status will enable the school to apply for more research grants and allow students more opportunities for scholarships, said Belinda Keiser, vice chancellor of community relations and student development.
Keiser, which serves mostly adult students, is also expanding overseas with new campuses in Shanghai and in Moldova in Eastern Europe and is adding doctorate and master’s programs.
"We’ll continue to build our graduate program to drive the economic engine that Florida needs to be," said Arthur Keiser, who founded the school in 1977 along with his mother, Evelyn Keiser.
Keiser’s change in status comes in the same year that new federal laws were proposed that cut off federal aid to for-profit colleges whose graduates cannot earn enough to repay their loans.
The new rules followed an investigation of 15 for-profit colleges by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Investigators posing as potential students were given inflated estimates about the salaries they could make upon graduation. Some were asked to lie on applications for federal financial aid.
Keiser was not named in that investigation but it was added to a list of schools being investigated by the Florida Attorney General’s Office.
The ongoing civil investigation is looking into allegations of misrepresentations related to financial aid and "unfair or deceptive practices" in recruitment, enrollment and placement, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
"We are pleasantly looking forward to a fairly immediate resolution and positive outcome and do believe in time that will be the case," Belinda Keiser said.