Before the accreditation bid was awarded, the for-profit university also added 200 full-time faculty members and reduced the amount of admissions representatives by more than 50 percent and overall workforce by roughly 20 percent through a buy-out program as part of the university's effort to better align the number of staff with students.
Monce Medina, 23, will have two degrees from Ashford once she graduates this year. After completing her undergraduate education, she decided to pursue a master's in organizational management. She also serves as a resident assistant for the Clinton campus.
"I'm excited. I've been very busy, but I'm ready to start," the Belvidere, Ill., native said.
She hopes to work for the admissions office at the university after she graduates and also is worry-free about her college being on solid ground.
"I never really feared. I trusted that we would be accredited. It's a relief to know we are, but I never had fear," she said.
Not everyone in the Ashford University family had as worry free a year as Buzzo and Medina.
Vice President and Campus Director John Ballheim breathed a heavy sigh of relief this summer knowing he could focus on students' educations rather than soothing accreditation concerns.
"It was a very painful year, because that raises questions in the public of 'is that a credible institution?' We always thought we were and we remained accredited by HLC. Now we have a solid five-year accreditation and there are no major concerns," Ballheim said. "It is nice to have this confirmed. Now we can move forward without that black cloud."
It's not entirely blue skies ahead. Ashford's parent company, Bridgepoint Education, is under investigation by attorneys general in Iowa, California, New York and North Carolina for reasons including claims that the company made misleading phone calls in an effort to recruit students.