WEST LAFAYETTE - The U.S. Department of Education has approved plans for Purdue University to acquire Kaplan University and create the state's newest public institution. The Purdue NewU approval is the second of three needed to complete the transaction, with a review by the Higher Learning Commission still pending.

NewU has already received approval from the Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education. Purdue did not give an expected time frame for a ruling from the HLC, an independent, post-secondary education accreditation organization. 

"Purdue is appreciative of the Department of Education’s swift action," said Frank Dooley, senior vice provost for teaching and learning. "Following on the heels of the unanimous approval by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, the Department of Education's authorization is additional affirmation of Purdue’s proposal and the desire to fulfill our land-grant mission by making access to affordable education even more broadly available to those who stand to benefit the most from such access."

Purdue announced the acquisition in April, at which time President Mitch Daniels said the new university would be "almost exclusively online," upon launching. The university says NewU is part of an effort to expand "access to higher education for working adults and others for whom traditional campus study is not accessible or attainable."

Purdue said in April all 32,000 Kaplan students and 3,000 employees will transition to the new university. NewU will be overseen by a six-member board of trustees, which will approve all functions of the university, including academic, budget, marketing and operations.

As part of the deal with Kaplan parent Graham Holdings Co. (NYSE: GHC), Purdue will pay $1 up front and then pay Graham Holdings a percentage of revenue through the life of the 30-year service agreement.