S-1 1 p75463sv1.htm FORM S-1 sv1
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As filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on May 13, 2008
Registration No. 333-          
 
UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, DC 20549
Form S-1
 
REGISTRATION STATEMENT
THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933
 
Grand Canyon Education, Inc.
(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Its Charter)
 
         
Delaware   8221   20-3356009
(State or Other Jurisdiction of
Incorporation or Organization)
  (Primary Standard Industrial
Classification Code Number)
  (I.R.S. Employer
Identification Number)
 
3300 W. Camelback Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85017
(602) 639-7500
(Address, Including Zip Code, and Telephone Number, Including Area Code, of Registrant’s Principal Executive Offices)
 
Christopher C. Richardson
General Counsel
Grand Canyon Education, Inc.
3300 W. Camelback Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85017
(602) 639-7500
(Name, Address, Including Zip Code, and Telephone Number, Including Area Code, of Agent For Service)
 
Copies to:
 
     
Steven D. Pidgeon, Esq. 
  Mark A. Stegemoeller, Esq.
David P. Lewis, Esq. 
  Steven B. Stokdyk, Esq.
DLA Piper US LLP
  Latham & Watkins LLP
2415 East Camelback Road, Suite 700
  633 West Fifth Street, Suite 4000
Phoenix, Arizona 85016
  Los Angeles, California 90071
(480) 606-5100
  (213) 485-1234
     
 
Approximate date of commencement of proposed sale to the public:  As soon as practicable after this registration statement becomes effective.
 
If any of the securities being registered on this form are to be offered on a delayed or continuous basis pursuant to Rule 415 under the Securities Act of 1933, check the following box.  o
 
If this form is filed to register additional securities for an offering pursuant to Rule 462(b) under the Securities Act, check the following box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering.  o
 
If this form is a post-effective amendment filed pursuant to Rule 462(c) under the Securities Act, check the following box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering.  o
 
If this form is a post-effective amendment filed pursuant to Rule 462(d) under the Securities Act, check the following box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering.  o
 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
 
             
Large accelerated filer o
  Accelerated filer o   Non-accelerated filer þ   Smaller reporting company o
        (Do not check if a smaller reporting company)    
 
CALCULATION OF REGISTRATION FEE
 
             
      Proposed Maximum
     
Title of Each Class of
    Aggregate Offering
    Amount of
Security To be Registered     Price(1)     Registration Fee(2)
Common Stock, par value $0.01 per share
    $230,000,000     $9,039
             
(1) Estimated solely for the purpose of calculating the registration fee pursuant to Rule 457(o) under the Securities Act.
 
(2) Calculated pursuant to Rule 457(o) based on an estimate of the proposed maximum aggregate offering price, including the offering price of shares that the underwriters have the option to purchase to cover over- allotments, if any.
 
The Registrant hereby amends this Registration Statement on such date or dates as may be necessary to delay its effective date until the Registrant shall file a further amendment which specifically states that this Registration Statement shall thereafter become effective in accordance with Section 8(a) of the Securities Act or until the Registration Statement shall become effective on such date as the Commission, acting pursuant to said Section 8(a), shall determine.
 


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The information in this prospectus is not complete and may be changed. We may not sell these securities until the registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission is effective. This prospectus is not an offer to sell these securities and it is not soliciting an offer to buy these securities in any jurisdiction where the offer or sale is not permitted.
 
 
Subject to Completion
Dated May 13, 2008
 
          Shares
 
(GRAND CANYON UNVERSITY)
 
 
Grand Canyon Education, Inc.
Common Stock
 
 
 
 
This is the initial public offering of common stock of Grand Canyon Education, Inc. We are offering           shares of our common stock.
 
Prior to this offering, there has been no public market for our common stock. The initial public offering price of our common stock is expected to be between $      and $      per share. We intend to apply to list our common stock on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol “LOPE.”
 
          percent of the gross proceeds from the sale of stock in this offering, before underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses, will be paid to our existing shareholders as a special distribution.
 
Investing in our common stock involves risks. See “Risk Factors” beginning on page 10.
 
 
                 
    Per Share   Total
 
Public offering price
  $             $          
Underwriting discounts and commissions
  $       $    
Proceeds, before expenses, to us
  $       $  
 
We have granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to           additional shares of common stock from us at the public offering price, less the underwriting discounts and commissions, to cover over-allotments of shares, if any.
 
Neither the Securities and Exchange Commission nor any state securities commission has approved or disapproved of these securities or determined if this prospectus is truthful or complete. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.
 
Delivery of the shares of common stock will be made on or about          , 2008.
 
 
 
 
Joint Book-Running Managers
 
Credit Suisse Merrill Lynch & Co.
          
 
 
BMO Capital Markets William Blair & Company Piper Jaffray
 
The date of this prospectus is          , 2008


 

 
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ABOUT THIS PROSPECTUS
 
You should rely only on the information contained in this prospectus. We have not authorized anyone to provide you with information different from that contained in this prospectus. We are offering to sell, and seeking offers to buy, shares of common stock only in jurisdictions where offers and sales are permitted. You should assume that the information contained in this prospectus is accurate only as of the date of this prospectus, regardless of the time of delivery of this prospectus or of any sale of common stock. Our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects may have changed since that date.
 
Until          , 2008 (25 days after the date of this prospectus), all dealers, whether or not participating in this offering, that effect transactions in these securities may be required to deliver a prospectus. This is in addition to the dealer’s obligation to deliver a prospectus when acting as an underwriter in this offering and when selling previously unsold allotments or subscriptions.


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PROSPECTUS SUMMARY
 
This summary highlights information contained elsewhere in this prospectus. This summary sets forth the material terms of the offering, but does not contain all of the information that you should consider before investing in our common stock. You should read the entire prospectus carefully before making an investment decision, especially the risks of investing in our common stock described under “Risk Factors.” Unless the context otherwise requires, the terms “we,” “us,” “our,” and “Grand Canyon” refer to Grand Canyon Education, Inc. and our predecessor as context requires.
 
Overview
 
We are a leading, regionally accredited provider of online postsecondary education services focused on offering graduate and undergraduate degree programs in our core disciplines of education, business, and healthcare. In addition to our online programs, we offer ground programs at our traditional campus in Phoenix, Arizona and onsite at the facilities of employers. We are committed to providing an academically rigorous educational experience with a focus on career-oriented programs that meet the objectives of working adults. We utilize an integrated, innovative approach to marketing, recruiting, and retaining students, which has enabled us to increase enrollment from approximately 3,000 students at the end of 2003 to approximately 14,750 students at the end of 2007, representing a compound annual growth rate of approximately 49%. At the end of 2007, 85% of our students were enrolled in our online programs and 62% of our students were pursuing master’s degrees.
 
Our three core disciplines of education, business, and healthcare represent large markets with attractive employment opportunities. According to the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, or NCES, these disciplines ranked as three of the four most popular fields of postsecondary education, based on degrees conferred in the 2005-06 school year. The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, has estimated that these fields comprised over 40 million jobs in 2006, many of which require postsecondary education credentials. Furthermore, the BLS has projected that the education, business, and healthcare fields will generate approximately six million new jobs between 2006 and 2016.
 
We primarily focus on recruiting and educating working adults, whom we define as students age 25 or older who are pursuing a degree while employed. As of December 31, 2007, approximately 93% of our online students were age 25 or older. We believe that working adults are attracted to the convenience and flexibility of our online programs because they can study and interact with faculty and classmates during times that suit their schedules. We also believe that working adults represent an attractive student population because they are better able to finance their education, more readily recognize the benefits of a postsecondary degree, and have higher persistence and completion rates than students generally.
 
We have experienced significant growth in enrollment, net revenue, and operating income over the last several years. Our enrollment at the end of 2007 was approximately 14,750, representing a 38.4% increase over the prior year. Our net revenue and operating income for the year ended December 31, 2007 were $99.3 million and $6.8 million, respectively, representing increases of 37.7% and 41.3%, respectively, over the prior year. We seek to achieve continued growth in a manner that reinforces our reputation for providing academically rigorous, career-oriented educational programs that advance the careers of our students.
 
We have been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, or the Higher Learning Commission, and its predecessor since 1968, and we were reaccredited by the Higher Learning Commission in 2007 for the maximum term of ten years. In addition, we have specialized accreditations for certain programs from the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, and the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education. We believe that our regional accreditation, together with these specialized accreditations, reflect the quality of our programs, enhance their marketability, and improve the employability of our graduates.
 
We were founded as Grand Canyon College, a traditional, private, non-profit college, in 1949 and moved to our existing campus in Phoenix, Arizona in 1951. In February 2004, several of our current stockholders


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acquired Grand Canyon University and converted it to a for-profit institution. Since then, we have enhanced our senior management team, expanded our online platform and programs, and initiated a marketing and branding effort to further differentiate us in the markets in which we operate and support our continued growth.
 
Industry
 
The United States market for postsecondary education represents a large and growing opportunity. According to the NCES, total revenue for all degree-granting postsecondary institutions was over $385 billion for the 2004-05 school year. Approximately 18.0 million students were projected to be enrolled in postsecondary institutions in 2007 and the number was projected to grow to 18.8 million by 2010. We believe that future growth in this market will be driven, in part, by the increasing number of job openings in occupations that require bachelor’s or master’s degrees, which the BLS has projected will grow approximately 17% and 19%, respectively, between 2006 and 2016, or nearly double the growth rate the BLS projected for occupations that do not require postsecondary degrees. Moreover, according to U.S. Census Bureau data, individuals with a postsecondary degree are able to obtain a significant compensation premium relative to individuals without a degree.
 
The market for online postsecondary education is growing more rapidly than the overall postsecondary market. A 2007 study by Eduventures, LLC, an education consulting and research firm, projected that from 2002 to 2007 enrollment in online postsecondary programs increased from approximately 0.5 million to approximately 1.8 million, representing a compound annual growth rate of approximately 30.4%. In comparison, the NCES projected a compound annual growth rate of 1.6% in enrollment in postsecondary programs overall during the same period. We believe this growth has been driven by a number of factors, including the greater convenience and flexibility of online programs as compared to ground-based programs and the increased acceptance of online programs among academics and employers. According to a 2006 survey by the Sloan Consortium, a trade group focused on online education, 79.1% of chief academic officers surveyed at institutions with 15,000 or more students, most of which offer online programs, and 61.9% of all chief academic officers surveyed, believe that online learning outcomes are equal or superior to traditional face-to-face instruction.
 
Competitive Strengths
 
We believe the following competitive strengths differentiate us from our competitors:
 
Established presence in targeted, high demand disciplines.  We have an established presence within our three core disciplines of education, business, and healthcare. We believe our focused approach enables us to develop our academic reputation and brand identity within our core disciplines, recruit and retain quality faculty and staff members, and meet the educational and career objectives of our students.
 
Focus on graduate degrees for working adults.  We have designed our program offerings and our online delivery platform to meet the needs of working adults, particularly those seeking graduate degrees to obtain pay increases or job promotions that are directly tied to higher educational attainment.
 
Innovative marketing, recruiting, and retention strategy.  We have developed an integrated, innovative approach to student marketing, recruitment, and retention to reach our targeted students. We also proactively provide support to students at key points during their consideration of, and enrollment at, Grand Canyon University to enhance the probability of student enrollment and retention.
 
Commitment to offering academically rigorous, career-oriented programs.  We are committed to offering academically rigorous educational programs that are designed to help our students achieve their career objectives. Our programs are taught by qualified faculty, substantially all of whom hold at least a master’s degree and often have practical experience in their respective fields.
 
Complementary online capabilities and campus-based tradition.  We believe that our online capabilities, combined with our nearly 60-year heritage as a traditional campus-based university, differentiate us in the for-


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profit postsecondary market and enhance the reputation of our degree programs among prospective students and employers.
 
Experienced management team with strong operating track-record.  Our management team possesses extensive experience in educational services businesses, specifically in the areas of marketing to, recruiting, and retaining students pursuing online and other distance education degree offerings, and in online content development.
 
Growth Strategies
 
We intend to pursue the following growth strategies:
 
Increase enrollment in existing programs.  We intend to increase enrollment in existing programs within our three core disciplines, which we believe offer ample opportunity for growth. We also intend to continue to increase the number of our enrollment counselors and marketing personnel to drive enrollment growth and enhance student retention.
 
Expand online program and degree offerings.  We develop and offer new programs that we believe have attractive demand characteristics. We launched 17 new online program offerings in 2007 and intend to launch a total of 12 new online programs in 2008, including our first doctoral degree program. Our new program offerings typically build on existing programs and offer our students the opportunity to pursue their specific educational objectives while allowing us to expand our program offerings with only modest incremental investment.
 
Further enhance our brand recognition.  We continue to enhance our brand recognition by pursuing online and offline marketing campaigns, establishing strategic branding relationships with recognized industry leaders, and developing complementary resources in our core disciplines that increase the overall awareness of our offerings.
 
Expand relationships with private sector and government employers.  We seek additional relationships with health care systems, school districts, emergency services providers, and other employers through which we market our offerings to their employees. These relationships provide leads for our programs, build our recognition among employers in our core disciplines, and enable us to identify new programs and degrees that are in demand by students and employers.
 
Leverage infrastructure and drive earnings growth.  We have made significant investments in our people, processes, and technology infrastructure since 2004. We believe these investments have prepared us to deliver our academic programs to a much larger student population with only modest incremental investment. We intend to leverage our historical investments as we increase our enrollment, which we believe will allow us to increase our operating margins over time.
 
Risks Affecting Us
 
Our business is subject to numerous risks, as discussed more fully in the section entitled “Risk Factors” immediately following this Prospectus Summary. In particular, our business would be adversely affected if:
 
  •  we are unable to attract and retain students as a result of the highly competitive markets in which we operate;
 
  •  we are unable to comply with the extensive regulatory requirements to which our business is subject, including requirements governing the Title IV federal student financial aid programs, state laws and regulations, and accrediting commission requirements;
 
  •  we experience any student, regulatory, reputational, or other events that adversely affect our graduate degree offerings, from which we currently derive a significant portion of our revenues;
 
  •  we experience damage to our reputation or other adverse effects in connection with any compliance audit, regulatory action, or negative publicity affecting us or other companies in the for-profit postsecondary education sector;


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  •  we are unable to attract and retain key personnel needed to sustain and grow our business;
 
  •  our students are unable to obtain student loans on affordable terms, or at all;
 
  •  adverse economic or other developments affect demand in our core disciplines; or
 
  •  we are unable to develop new programs or expand our existing programs in a timely and cost-effective manner.
 
Corporate Information
 
We were formed in Delaware in November 2003 for the purpose of acquiring the assets of Grand Canyon University. Prior to completion of this offering, we intend to effect a reorganization pursuant to which we will transfer substantially all of our operations to a newly created wholly-owned subsidiary. Our principal executive offices are located at 3300 West Camelback Road, Phoenix, Arizona 85017, and our telephone number is (602) 639-7500. Our website is located at www.gcu.edu. The information on, or accessible through, our website does not constitute part of, and is not incorporated into, this prospectus.
 
Accreditation
 
We are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, 30 N. LaSalle Street, Suite 2400, Chicago, Illinois 60602-2504; telephone (312) 263-0456; website www.ncahlc.org. The information on, or accessible through, the website of the Higher Learning Commission does not constitute part of, and is not incorporated into, this prospectus.
 
Industry Data
 
We use market data and industry forecasts and projections throughout this prospectus, which we have obtained from market research, publicly available information, and industry publications. These sources generally state that the information they provide has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but that the accuracy and completeness of the information are not guaranteed. The forecasts and projections are based on industry surveys and the preparers’ experience in the industry as of the time they were prepared, and there is no assurance that any of the projected numbers will be reached. Similarly, we believe that the surveys and market research others have completed are reliable, but we have not independently verified their findings.


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OFFERING SUMMARY
 
Common stock offered by us           shares
 
Common stock outstanding after this offering           shares
 
Use of proceeds We estimate that the net proceeds to us from this offering will be approximately $      million, or approximately $      million if the underwriters exercise their over-allotment option in full, based on the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus.
 
As described in “Use of Proceeds” and “Special Distribution,” we intend to use the proceeds of this offering to pay a special distribution to our stockholders of record as of          , 2008, in an amount equal to     % of the gross proceeds received by us from the sale of stock in this offering, before underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses. We also intend to use up to $16.0 million of the proceeds of this offering to redeem an outstanding warrant to purchase shares of our common stock. We intend to use the remaining proceeds and any proceeds we receive from the underwriters’ exercise of their over-allotment option to pay the expenses of this offering and for general corporate purposes.
 
The payment of the special distribution in the amount described above permits a return of capital to all of our stockholders as of the record date, and does so without significantly decreasing our capital resources or requiring these stockholders to sell their shares. Of the estimated aggregate amount of the special distribution of $      million, assuming an initial public offering price of $      per share, which is the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, $      million will be paid in respect of shares of our capital stock over which our directors and executive officers as a group are deemed to exercise sole or shared voting or investment power. These proceeds will be allocated as set forth in the following table.
 
     
    Special Distribution
 
Directors
   
Chad N. Heath(1)
  $     
D. Mark Dorman(1)
  $
Executive Officers
   
Brent D. Richardson
  $
John E. Crowley
  $
Christopher C. Richardson
  $
All directors and executive officers as a group
  $
 
 
  (1)  Represents shares owned by Endeavour Capital Fund IV, L.P. and certain affiliated funds. D. Mark Dorman and Chad N. Heath, two of our directors, are managing directors of Endeavour Capital IV, LLC, the general partner of such funds.


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See “Special Distribution” and “Certain Relationships and Related Transactions — Special Distribution” for additional information regarding the beneficiaries of the special distribution.
 
Dividend policy Except with respect to the special distribution, we do not anticipate declaring or paying any cash dividends on our common stock in the foreseeable future.
 
Risk factors You should carefully read and consider the information set forth under the heading titled “Risk Factors” and all other information set forth in this prospectus before deciding to invest in shares of our common stock.
 
Proposed Nasdaq Global Market symbol LOPE
 
The number of shares of our common stock to be outstanding following this offering is based on           shares of our common stock outstanding as of           , 2008, and excludes           shares of common stock reserved for future issuance under our stock-based compensation plans.
 
Unless otherwise indicated, this prospectus reflects and assumes the following:
 
  •  no exercise by the underwriters of their option to purchase up to           additional shares from us;
 
  •  a          for          split of our outstanding common stock to be effected immediately prior to the effectiveness of this offering;
 
  •  the automatic conversion of all outstanding shares of Series A preferred stock into 5,953 shares of common stock upon the closing of the offering;
 
  •  the filing of an amendment to our certificate of incorporation to provide for the automatic conversion of all outstanding shares of Series C preferred stock into           shares of common stock upon the closing of the offering based on a conversion price equal to the initial public offering price per share, assuming an initial public offering price of $      per share, which is the midpoint of the range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus;
 
  •  the repurchase by us of an outstanding warrant to purchase common stock for up to $16.0 million in cash, as described under “Use of Proceeds;”
 
  •  the filing of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and the adoption of our amended and restated bylaws immediately prior to the effectiveness of this offering; and
 
  •  the rounding of all fractional share amounts to the nearest whole number.


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SUMMARY FINANCIAL AND OTHER DATA
 
The following table sets forth our summary financial and operating data as of the dates and for the periods indicated. The statement of operations and other data, excluding period end enrollment, for each of the years in the three-year period ended December 31, 2007, and the balance sheet data as of December 31, 2007, have been derived from our audited financial statements, which are included elsewhere in this prospectus.
 
You should read the following summary financial and other data in conjunction with “Selected Financial and Other Data,” “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” and our financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this prospectus.
 
                         
    Year Ended December 31,  
    2005     2006     2007  
    (In thousands, except enrollment, share, and per share data)  
 
Statement of Operations Data:
                       
Net revenue
  $ 51,793     $ 72,111     $ 99,327  
Costs and expenses:
                       
Instructional costs and services
    26,959       29,920       36,852  
Selling and promotional
    13,758       19,355       33,480  
General and administrative
    12,424       15,326       18,385  
Royalty to former owner
    1,619       2,678       3,782  
                         
Total costs and expenses
    54,760       67,279       92,499  
                         
Operating income (loss)
    (2,967 )     4,832       6,828  
Interest expense
    (3,016 )     (2,909 )     (3,070 )
Interest income
    276       912       1,172  
                         
Income (loss) before income taxes
    (5,707 )     2,835       4,930  
Income tax expense (benefit)(1)
    (1,894 )     1,184       1,939  
                         
Net income (loss)
  $ (3,813 )   $ 1,651     $ 2,991  
Preferred dividends
          (527 )     (349 )
                         
Net income available (loss attributable) to common stockholders
  $ (3,813 )   $ 1,124     $ 2,642  
                         
Earnings (loss) per common share
                       
Basic
  $ (377 )   $ 109     $ 255  
Diluted
  $ (377 )   $ 82     $ 159  
Shares used in computing earnings (loss) per common share
                       
Basic
    10,115       10,325       10,342  
Diluted
    10,115       20,107       18,860  
Other Data:
                       
Net cash provided by (used in) operating activities
  $ (6,972 )   $ 6,800     $ 7,107  
Capital expenditures
  $ 817     $ 2,387     $ 7,410  
Depreciation and amortization
  $ 1,879     $ 2,396     $ 3,269  
Adjusted EBITDA(2)
  $ 1,042     $ 10,864     $ 14,175  
Period end enrollment:
                       
Online
    6,212       8,406       12,497  
Ground
    2,210       2,256       2,257  
 


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    As of December 31, 2007  
          Pro Forma,
 
          as
 
    Actual     Adjusted(3)  
    (In thousands)  
 
Balance Sheet Data:
               
Cash and cash equivalents
  $ 23,210     $    
Total assets
    91,163          
Capital lease obligations
    29,228          
Other indebtedness (including short-term indebtedness)
    8,408          
Preferred stock
    31,948          
Total stockholders’ equity (deficit)(1)
    (7,792 )        
 
 
(1) On August 24, 2005, we converted from a limited liability company to a taxable corporation. For all periods subsequent to such date, we have been subject to corporate-level U.S. federal and state income taxes.
 
(2) Adjusted EBITDA is defined as net income (loss) plus interest expense net of interest income, plus income tax expense (benefit), and plus depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), as adjusted for (i) royalty payments incurred pursuant to an agreement with our former owner that has been terminated as of April 15, 2008, as discussed in “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Factors affecting comparability — Settlement with former owner” and Note 2 to our financial statements included with this prospectus and (ii) management fees that are no longer paid or that will no longer be payable following completion of this offering.
 
We present Adjusted EBITDA because we consider it to be an important supplemental measure of our operating performance. We also make certain compensation decisions based, in part, on our operating performance, as measured by Adjusted EBITDA. See “Compensation Discussion and Analysis — Impact of Performance on Compensation.” All of the adjustments made in our calculation of Adjusted EBITDA are adjustments to items that management does not consider to be reflective of our core operating performance. Management considers our core operating performance to be that which can be affected by our managers in any particular period through their management of the resources that affect our underlying revenue and profit generating operations during that period. Management fees and royalty expenses that became payable in connection with our acquisition of Grand Canyon University, and subsequent financing transactions, are not considered reflective of our core operating performance.
 
Our management uses Adjusted EBITDA:
 
  •  in developing our internal budgets and strategic plan;
 
  •  as a measurement of operating performance;
 
  •  as a factor in evaluating the performance of our management for compensation purposes; and
 
  •  in presentations to the members of our board of directors to enable our board to have the same measurement basis of operating performance as are used by management to compare our current operating results with corresponding prior periods and with the results of other companies in our industry.
 
However, Adjusted EBITDA is not a recognized measurement under U.S. generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, and when analyzing our operating performance, investors should use Adjusted EBITDA in addition to, and not as an alternative for, net income, operating income, or any other performance measure presented in accordance with GAAP, or as an alternative to cash flow from operating activities or as a measure of our liquidity. Because not all companies use identical calculations, our presentation of Adjusted EBITDA may not be comparable to similarly titled measures of other companies.

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Adjusted EBITDA has limitations as an analytical tool, as discussed under “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Non-GAAP Discussion.”
 
The following table provides a reconciliation of net income (loss) to Adjusted EBITDA:
 
                         
    Year Ended December 31,
    2005   2006   2007
    (In thousands)
 
Net income (loss)
  $ (3,813 )   $ 1,651     $ 2,991  
Plus: interest expense net of interest income
    2,740       1,997       1,898  
Plus: income tax expense (benefit)
    (1,894 )     1,184       1,939  
Plus: depreciation and amortization
    1,879       2,396       3,269  
                         
EBITDA
    (1,088 )     7,228       10,097  
                         
Plus: royalty to former owner(a)
    1,619       2,678       3,782  
Plus: management fees(b)
    511       958       296  
                         
Adjusted EBITDA
  $ 1,042     $ 10,864     $ 14,175  
                         
 
 
(a) Reflects the royalty fee arrangement with the former owner of Grand Canyon University in which we agreed to pay a stated percentage of cash revenue generated by our online programs. As a result of the settlement of a dispute with our former owner, we are no longer obligated to pay this royalty, although the settlement includes a prepayment of future royalties that will be amortized in 2008 and future periods. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Factors affecting comparability — Settlement with former owner” and Note 2 to our financial statements included with this prospectus.
 
(b) Reflects management fees of $0.1 million, $0.3 million, and $0.3 million for the years ended December 31, 2005, 2006, and 2007, respectively, to the general partner of Endeavour Capital, and an aggregate of $0.4 million and $0.7 million for the years ended December 31, 2005 and 2006, respectively, to an entity affiliated with a former director and another affiliated with a significant stockholder, in each case following their investment in us. The agreements relating to these arrangements have all terminated or will terminate by their terms upon the closing of this offering. See “Certain Relationships and Related Transactions.”
 
(3) For a description of the offering and pro forma adjustments, see “Capitalization.”


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RISK FACTORS
 
Investing in our common stock involves a high degree of risk. Before making an investment in our common stock, you should carefully consider the following risks and the other information contained in this prospectus, including our financial statements and related notes, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” and “Regulation.” The risks described below are those that we believe are the material risks we face. Any of the risk factors described below, and others that we did not anticipate, could significantly and adversely affect our business, prospects, financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows. As a result, the trading price of our common stock could decline and you may lose all or part of your investment.
 
Risks Related to Our Industry
 
Our failure to comply with the extensive regulatory requirements governing our school could result in financial penalties, restrictions on our operations or growth, or loss of external financial aid funding for our students.
 
In our 2006 and 2007 fiscal years, we derived approximately 64.0% and 65.4%, respectively, of our net revenues from tuition financed under federal student financial aid programs, referred to in this prospectus as the Title IV programs, which are administered by the U.S. Department of Education, or Department of Education. To participate in the Title IV programs, a school must be authorized by the appropriate state education agency or agencies, be accredited by an accrediting commission recognized by the Department of Education, and be certified as an eligible institution by the Department of Education. In addition, our operations and programs are regulated by other state education agencies and additional accrediting commissions. As a result of these requirements, we are subject to extensive regulation by the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education and education agencies of other states, the Higher Learning Commission, which is our primary accrediting commission, specialized accrediting commissions, and the Department of Education. These regulatory requirements cover the vast majority of our operations, including our educational programs, instructional and administrative staff, administrative procedures, marketing, recruiting, financial operations, and financial condition. These regulatory requirements also affect our ability to open additional schools and locations, add new educational programs, change existing educational programs, and change our corporate or ownership structure. The agencies that regulate our operations periodically revise their requirements and modify their interpretations of existing requirements. Regulatory requirements are not always precise and clear, and regulatory agencies may sometimes disagree with the way we have interpreted or applied these requirements. Any misinterpretation by us of regulatory requirements could materially adversely affect us.
 
If we fail to comply with any of these regulatory requirements, we could suffer financial penalties, limitations on our operations, loss of accreditation, termination of or limitations on our ability to grant degrees and certificates, or limitations on or termination of our eligibility to participate in the Title IV programs, each of which could materially adversely affect us. In addition, if we are charged with regulatory violations, our reputation could be damaged, which could have a negative impact on our stock price and our enrollments. We cannot predict with certainty how all of these regulatory requirements will be applied, or whether we will be able to comply with all of the applicable requirements in the future.
 
If the Department of Education does not recertify us to continue participating in the Title IV programs, our students would lose their access to Title IV program funds, or we could be recertified but required to accept significant limitations as a condition of our continued participation in the Title IV programs.
 
Department of Education certification to participate in the Title IV programs lasts a maximum of six years, and institutions are thus required to seek recertification from the Department of Education on a regular basis in order to continue their participation in the Title IV programs. An institution must also apply for recertification by the Department of Education if it undergoes a change in control, as defined by Department of Education regulations, and may be subject to similar review if it expands its operations or educational programs in certain ways.
 
Our most recent recertification, which was issued on a provisional basis in May 2005 after an extended review by the Department of Education following the change in control that occurred in February 2004,


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contained a number of conditions on our continued participation in the Title IV programs. At that time we were required by the Department of Education to post a letter of credit, accept restrictions on the growth of our program offerings and enrollment, and receive certain Title IV funds under the heightened cash monitoring system of payment (pursuant to which an institution is required to credit students with Title IV funds prior to obtaining those funds from the Department of Education) rather than by advance payment (pursuant to which an institution receives Title IV funds from the Department of Education in advance of disbursement to students). In October 2006, the Department of Education eliminated the letter of credit requirement and allowed the growth restrictions to expire, and in August 2007, it eliminated the heightened cash monitoring restrictions and returned us to the advance payment method. However, we remain certified on a provisional basis, which means that the Department of Education may more closely review our applications for recertification, new locations, new educational programs, acquisitions of other schools, or other significant changes, and it may revoke its certification of us without advance notice if it determines we are not fulfilling material Title IV requirements. Our current certification extends to June 30, 2008, and we submitted our application for recertification in March 2008. There can be no assurance that the Department of Education will recertify us, or that it will not impose restrictions as a condition to approving our pending recertification application or with respect to any future recertification. If the Department of Education does not renew or withdraws our certification to participate in the Title IV programs at any time, our students would no longer be able to receive Title IV program funds. Similarly, the Department of Education could renew our certification, but restrict or delay our students’ receipt of Title IV funds, limit the number of students to whom we could disburse such funds, or place other restrictions on us. Any of these outcomes would have a material adverse effect on our enrollments and us.
 
Congress may change the eligibility standards or reduce funding for the Title IV programs, which could reduce our student population, revenue, and profit margin.
 
Political and budgetary concerns significantly affect the Title IV programs. Congress must periodically reauthorize the Higher Education Act, which is the federal law that governs the Title IV programs. The last reauthorization of the Higher Education Act occurred in 1998, and Congress is currently considering a new reauthorization, which is likely to contain numerous changes to the Higher Education Act. In addition, Congress must determine funding levels for the Title IV programs on an annual basis, and can change the laws governing the Title IV programs at any time. Because a significant percentage of our revenue is derived from the Title IV programs, any action by Congress that significantly reduces Title IV program funding or our ability or the ability of our students to participate in the Title IV programs could require us to seek to arrange for other sources of financial aid for our students and could materially decrease our student enrollment. Such a decrease in our enrollment could have a material adverse effect on us. Congressional action could also require us to modify our practices in ways that could increase our administrative and regulatory costs.
 
If we do not meet specific financial responsibility standards established by the Department of Education, we may be required to post a letter of credit or accept other limitations in order to continue participating in the Title IV programs, or we could lose our eligibility to participate in the Title IV programs.
 
To participate in the Title IV programs, an institution must either satisfy specific quantitative standards of financial responsibility prescribed by the Department of Education, or post a letter of credit in favor of the Department of Education and possibly accept operating restrictions as well. These financial responsibility tests are applied to each institution on an annual basis based on the institution’s audited financial statements, and may be applied at other times, such as if the institution undergoes a change in control. These tests may also be applied to an institution’s parent company or other related entity. The operating restrictions that may be placed on an institution that does not meet the quantitative standards of financial responsibility include being transferred from the advance payment method of receiving Title IV funds to either the reimbursement or the heightened cash monitoring system, which could result in a significant delay in the institution’s receipt of those funds. For example, when we were recertified by the Department of Education to participate in the Title IV programs in May 2005 following the change in control that occurred in February 2004, the Department of Education reviewed our fiscal year 2004 audited financial statements and advised us that our composite score, which is a standard of financial responsibility derived from a formula established by the Department of Education, reflected financial weakness. As a result of this and other concerns about our


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administrative capability, the Department of Education required us to post a letter of credit, accept restrictions on the growth of our program offerings and enrollment, and receive Title IV funds under the heightened cash monitoring system of payment rather than by advance payment. In October 2006, the Department of Education eliminated the letter of credit requirement and allowed the growth restrictions to expire, and in August 2007, it eliminated the heightened cash monitoring restrictions and returned us to the advance payment method. However, if, in the future, we fail to satisfy the Department of Education’s financial responsibility standards, we could experience increased regulatory compliance costs or delays in our receipt of Title IV funds because we could be required to post a letter of credit or be subjected to operating restrictions, or both. Our failure to secure a letter of credit in these circumstances could cause us to lose our ability to participate in the Title IV programs, which would materially adversely affect us.
 
If we do not comply with the Department of Education’s administrative capability standards, we could suffer financial penalties, be required to accept other limitations in order to continue participating in the Title IV programs, or lose our eligibility to participate in the Title IV programs.
 
To continue participating in the Title IV programs, an institution must demonstrate to the Department of Education that the institution is capable of adequately administering the Title IV programs under specific standards prescribed by the Department of Education. These administrative capability criteria require, among other things, that the institution has an adequate number of qualified personnel to administer the Title IV programs, has adequate procedures for disbursing and safeguarding Title IV funds and for maintaining records, submits all required reports and financial statements in a timely manner, and does not have significant problems that affect the institution’s ability to administer the Title IV programs. If we fail to satisfy any of these criteria, the Department of Education may assess financial penalties against us, restrict the manner in which the Department of Education delivers Title IV funds to us, place us on provisional certification status, or limit or terminate our participation in the Title IV programs, any of which could materially adversely affect us. When we were recertified by the Department of Education to participate in the Title IV programs in May 2005 following the change in control that occurred in February 2004, the Department of Education required us to post a letter of credit, accept restrictions on the growth of our program offerings and enrollment, and receive Title IV funds under the heightened cash monitoring system of payment rather than by advance payment, due to the Department of Education’s concerns about our administrative capability combined with our financial weakness under the Department of Education’s standards of financial responsibility.
 
We would lose our ability to participate in the Title IV programs if we fail to maintain our institutional accreditation, and our student enrollments could decline if we fail to maintain any of our accreditations or approvals.
 
An institution must be accredited by an accrediting commission recognized by the Department of Education in order to participate in the Title IV programs. We have institutional accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission, which is an accrediting commission recognized by the Department of Education. To remain accredited, we must continuously meet accreditation standards relating to, among other things, performance, governance, institutional integrity, educational quality, faculty, administrative capability, resources, and financial stability. If we fail to satisfy any of these standards, we could lose our accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission, which would cause us to lose our eligibility to participate in the Title IV programs and could cause a significant decline in our total student enrollments and have a material adverse effect on us. In addition, many of our individual educational programs are also accredited by specialized accrediting commissions or approved by specialized state agencies. If we fail to satisfy the standards of any of those specialized accrediting commissions or state agencies, we could lose the specialized accreditation or approval for the affected programs, which could result in materially reduced student enrollments in those programs and have a material adverse effect on us.
 
If we do not maintain our state authorization in Arizona, we may not operate or participate in the Title IV programs.
 
A school that grants degrees or certificates must be authorized by the relevant education agency of the state in which it is located. We are located in the state of Arizona and are authorized by the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education. State authorization is also required for our students to be eligible


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to receive funding under the Title IV programs. To maintain our state authorization, we must continuously meet standards relating to, among other things, educational programs, facilities, instructional and administrative staff, marketing and recruitment, financial operations, addition of new locations and educational programs, and various operational and administrative procedures. If we fail to satisfy any of these standards, we could lose our authorization by the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education to offer our educational programs, which would also cause us to lose our eligibility to participate in the Title IV programs and have a material adverse effect on us.
 
If a substantial number of our students cannot secure Title IV loans as a result of decreased lender participation in the Title IV programs or if lenders increase the costs or reduce the benefits associated with the Title IV loans they provide, we could be materially adversely affected.
 
The cumulative impact of recent regulatory and market developments and conditions has caused some lenders to cease providing Title IV loans to students, including some lenders that have previously provided Title IV loans to our students. Other lenders have reduced the benefits and increased the fees associated with the Title IV loans they provide. We and other schools have had to modify student loan practices in ways that could result in higher administrative costs. If the costs of their Title IV loans increase, some students may decide not to take out loans and not enroll in a postsecondary institution. In May 2008, new federal legislation was enacted to attempt to ensure that all eligible students will be able to obtain Title IV loans in the future and that a sufficient number of lenders will continue to provide Title IV loans. Among other things, the new legislation:
 
  •  authorizes the Department of Education to purchase Title IV loans from lenders, thereby providing capital to the lenders to enable them to continue making Title IV loans to students; and
 
  •  permits the Department of Education to designate institutions eligible to participate in a “lender of last resort” program, under which federally recognized student loan guaranty agencies will be required to make Title IV loans to all otherwise eligible students at those institutions.
 
We cannot predict if this legislation will be effective in ensuring students’ access to Title IV loans. If a substantial number of lenders cease to participate in the Title IV loan programs, increase the costs of student access to such programs, or reduce the benefits available under such programs, our students may not have access to such loans, which could cause our enrollments to decline and have a material adverse effect on us.
 
An increase in interest rates could adversely affect our ability to attract and retain students.
 
Approximately 65.4% of our net revenues for the year ended December 31, 2007, were derived from tuition financed under the Title IV programs, which include student loans with interest rates subsidized by the federal government. Additionally, some of our students finance their education through private loans that are not subsidized. Interest rates have reached relatively low levels in recent years, creating a favorable borrowing environment for students. However, in the event interest rates increase or Congress decreases the amount available for federal student aid, our students may have to pay higher interest rates on their loans. Any future increase in interest rates will result in a corresponding increase in educational costs to our existing and prospective students, which could result in a significant reduction in our student population and revenues. Higher interest rates could also contribute to higher default rates with respect to our students’ repayment of their education loans. Higher default rates may in turn adversely impact our eligibility to participate in some or all of the Title IV programs, which could result in a significant reduction in our student population and our profitability. See “We may lose our eligibility to participate in the Title IV programs if our student loan default rates are too high” located elsewhere in “Risk Factors” for further information.
 
Our failure to comply with the regulatory requirements of states other than Arizona could result in actions taken by those states that could have a material adverse effect on our enrollments.
 
Almost every state imposes regulatory requirements on educational institutions that have physical facilities located within the state’s boundaries. These regulatory requirements establish standards in areas such as educational programs, facilities, instructional and administrative staff, marketing and recruitment, financial operations, addition of new locations and educational programs, and various operational and administrative procedures, some of which are different than the standards prescribed by the Department of Education or the


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Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education. In addition, several states have sought to assert jurisdiction over educational institutions offering online degree programs that have no physical location or other presence in the state but that have some activity in the state, such as enrolling or offering educational services to students who reside in the state, employing faculty who reside in the state, or advertising to or recruiting prospective students in the state. State regulatory requirements for online education vary among the states, are not well developed in many states, are imprecise or unclear in some states, and can change frequently. In the future, states could coordinate their efforts in order to more aggressively attempt to regulate or restrict schools’ offering of online education.
 
In addition to Arizona, we have determined that our activities in certain states constitute a presence requiring licensure or authorization under the requirements of the state education agency in those states. In certain other states, we have obtained approvals to operate as we have determined necessary in connection with our marketing and recruiting activities. If we fail to comply with state licensing or authorization requirements for a state, or fail to obtain licenses or authorizations when required, we could lose our state licensure or authorization by that state or be subject to other sanctions, including restrictions on our activities in that state, fines, and penalties. The loss of licensure or authorization in a state other than Arizona could prohibit us from recruiting prospective students or offering educational services to current students in that state, which could significantly reduce our enrollments and revenues and materially adversely effect us.
 
State laws and regulations are not always precise or clear, and regulatory agencies may sometimes disagree with the way we have interpreted or applied these requirements. Any misinterpretation by us of these regulatory requirements or adverse changes in regulations or interpretations thereof by regulators could materially adversely affect us.
 
The inability of our graduates to obtain a professional license or certification in their chosen field of study could reduce our enrollments and revenues, and potentially lead to student claims against us that could be costly to us.
 
Many of our students, particularly those in our education and healthcare programs, seek a professional license or certification in their chosen fields following graduation. A student’s ability to obtain a professional license or certification depends on several factors, including whether the institution and the student’s program were accredited by a particular accrediting commission or approved by a professional association or by the state in which the student seeks employment. Additional factors are outside the control of the institution, such as the individual student’s own background and qualifications. If one or more states refuse to recognize a significant number of our students for professional licensing or certification based on factors relating to our institution or programs, the potential growth of those programs would be negatively impacted and we could be exposed to claims or litigation by students or graduates based on their inability to obtain their desired professional license or certification, each of which could materially adversely affect us.
 
Increased scrutiny by various governmental agencies regarding relationships between student loan providers and educational institutions and their employees have produced significant uncertainty concerning restrictions applicable to the administration of the Title IV loan programs and the funding for those programs which, if not satisfactorily or timely resolved, could result in increased regulatory burdens and costs for us and could adversely affect our student enrollments.
 
During 2007 and 2008, student loan programs, including the Title IV programs, have come under increased scrutiny by the Department of Education, Congress, state attorneys general, and other parties. Issues that have received extensive attention include allegations of conflicts of interest between some institutions and lenders that provide Title IV loans, questionable incentives given by lenders to some schools and school employees, allegations of deceptive practices in the marketing of student loans, and schools leading students to use certain lenders. Several institutions and lenders have been cited for these problems and have paid several million dollars in the aggregate to settle those claims. The practices of numerous other schools and lenders are being examined by government agencies at the federal and state level. The Attorney General of the State of Arizona has previously requested extensive documentation and information from us and other institutions in Arizona concerning student loan practices, and we recently provided testimony in response to a subpoena from the Attorney General of the State of Arizona about such practices. While no penalties have been assessed


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against us, we do not know what the results of that investigation will be. As a result of this scrutiny, Congress has passed new laws, the Department of Education has enacted stricter regulations that take effect July 1, 2008, and several states have adopted codes of conduct or enacted state laws that further regulate the conduct of lenders, schools, and school personnel. These new laws and regulations, among other things, limit schools’ relationships with lenders, restrict the types of services that schools may receive from lenders, prohibit lenders from providing other types of loans to students in exchange for Title IV loan volume from schools, require schools to provide additional information to students concerning institutionally preferred lenders, and significantly reduce the amount of federal payments to lenders who participate in the Title IV loan programs. The environment surrounding access to and cost of student loans remains in a state of flux, with reviews of many institutions and lenders still pending and with additional legislation and regulatory changes being actively considered at the federal and state levels. The uncertainty surrounding these issues, and any resolution of these issues that increases loan costs or reduces students’ access to Title IV loans, may adversely affect our student enrollments, which could have an adverse effect on us.
 
Government agencies, regulatory agencies, and third parties may conduct compliance reviews, bring claims, or initiate litigation against us based on alleged violations of the extensive regulatory requirements applicable to us, which could require us to pay monetary damages, be sanctioned or limited in our operations, and expend significant resources to defend against those claims.
 
Because we operate in a highly regulated industry, we are subject to program reviews, audits, investigations, claims of non-compliance, and lawsuits by government agencies, regulatory agencies, students, stockholders, and other third parties alleging non-compliance with applicable legal requirements, many of which are imprecise and subject to interpretation. As we grow larger, this scrutiny of our business may increase. If the result of any such proceeding is unfavorable to us, we may lose or have limitations imposed on our state licensing, accreditation, or Title IV program participation; be required to pay monetary damages (including triple damages in certain whistleblower suits); or be subject to fines, injunctions, or other penalties, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition, and results of operations. Claims and lawsuits brought against us, even if they are without merit, may also result in adverse publicity, damage our reputation, negatively affect the market price of our stock, adversely affect our student enrollments, and reduce the willingness of third parties to do business with us. Even if we adequately address the issues raised by any such proceeding and successfully defend against it, we may have to devote significant financial and management resources to address these issues, which could harm our business.
 
A decline in the overall growth of enrollment in postsecondary institutions, or in the number of students seeking degrees in our core disciplines, could cause us to experience lower enrollment at our schools, which could negatively impact our future growth.
 
According to the NCES, enrollment in degree-granting, postsecondary institutions is projected to grow 15.5% over the ten-year period ending fall 2015 to approximately 20.2 million. This growth is slower than the 22.6% increase reported in the prior ten-year period ended in fall 2005, when enrollment increased from 14.3 million in 1995 to 17.5 million in 2005. In addition, according to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, the number of high school graduates that are eligible to enroll in degree-granting, postsecondary institutions is expected to peak at approximately 3.3 million for the class of 2008, falling in the period between 2007-08 and 2013-14 by about 150,000 in total before resuming a growth pattern for the foreseeable future thereafter. In order to maintain current growth rates, we will need to attract a larger percentage of students in existing markets and expand our markets by creating new academic programs. In addition, if job growth in the fields related to our core disciplines is weaker than expected, including since the 2007 BLS report predicting strong job growth in these disciplines was completed, fewer students may seek the types of degrees that we offer. Our failure to attract new students, or the decisions by prospective students to seek degrees in other disciplines, would have an adverse impact on our future growth.
 
If our students were unable to obtain private loans from third-party lenders, our business could be adversely affected given our increasing reliance on such lenders as a source of net revenues.
 
During fiscal 2007, private loans to students at our school represented approximately 5.0% of our revenue (calculated on a cash basis), as compared to 3.1% of revenue in fiscal 2006 and 1.8% of revenue in fiscal


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2005. These loans were provided pursuant to private loan programs and were made available to eligible students to fund a portion of the students’ costs of education not covered by the Title IV programs and state financial aid sources. Private loans are made to our students by lending institutions and are non-recourse to us. Recent adverse market conditions for consumer and federally guaranteed student loans (including lenders’ increasing difficulties in reselling or syndicating student loan portfolios) have resulted, and could continue to result, in providers of private loans reducing the availability of or increasing the costs associated with providing private loans to postsecondary students. In particular, loans to students with low credit scores who would not otherwise be eligible for credit-based private loans have become increasingly difficult to obtain. Prospective students may find that these increased financing costs make borrowing prohibitively expensive and abandon or delay enrollment in postsecondary education programs. If any of these scenarios were to occur, our students’ ability to finance their education could be adversely affected and our student population could decrease, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition, and results of operations.
 
If any of the education regulatory agencies that regulate us do not approve or delay their approval of any transaction involving us that constitutes a “change in control,” our ability to operate or participate in the Title IV programs may be impaired.
 
If we experience a change in control under the standards of the Department of Education, the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education, the Higher Learning Commission, or any other applicable state education agency or accrediting commission, we must notify or seek the approval of each such agency. These agencies do not have uniform criteria for what constitutes a change in control. Transactions or events that typically constitute a change in control include significant acquisitions or dispositions of the voting stock of an institution or its parent company, and significant changes in the composition of the board of directors of an institution or its parent company. Some of these transactions or events may be beyond our control. Our failure to obtain, or a delay in receiving, approval of any change in control from the Department of Education, the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education, or the Higher Learning Commission could impair our ability to operate or participate in the Title IV programs, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition. Our failure to obtain, or a delay in receiving, approval of any change in control from any other state in which we are currently licensed or authorized, or from any of our specialized accrediting commissions, could require us to suspend our activities in that state or suspend offering the applicable programs until we receive the required approval, or could otherwise impair our operations. The potential adverse effects of a change in control could influence future decisions by us and our stockholders regarding the sale, purchase, transfer, issuance, or redemption of our stock, which could discourage bids for your shares of our stock and could have an adverse effect on the market price of your shares.
 
We will notify or seek confirmation from the Department of Education, the Higher Learning Commission, the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education, and other applicable state education agencies and accrediting commissions, as we believe necessary, that this offering will not constitute a change in control under their respective standards.
 
We are subject to sanctions if we pay impermissible commissions, bonuses, or other incentive payments to persons involved in certain recruiting, admissions, or financial aid activities.
 
A school participating in the Title IV programs may not provide, or contract with a third party that provides, any commission, bonus, or other incentive payment based on success in enrolling students or securing financial aid to any person involved in student recruiting or admission activities or in making decisions regarding the awarding of Title IV program funds. The laws and regulations related to this requirement do not establish clear criteria for compliance in all circumstances, and in recent years several for-profit education companies have been faced with whistleblower lawsuits by former employees alleging violations of this prohibition. If we or any third parties we have engaged or engage in the future violate this law, we could be fined or sanctioned by the Department of Education, or subjected to other monetary penalties that could be substantial, any of which could harm our reputation, impose significant costs on us, and have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition, and results of operations.


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Our reputation and our stock price may be negatively affected by the actions of other postsecondary educational institutions.
 
In recent years, regulatory proceedings and litigation have been commenced against various postsecondary educational institutions relating to, among other things, deceptive trade practices, false claims against the government, and non-compliance with Department of Education requirements, state education laws, and state consumer protection laws. These proceedings have been brought by the Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, and state governmental agencies, among others. These allegations have attracted adverse media coverage and have been the subject of legislative hearings and regulatory actions at both the federal and state levels, focusing not only on the individual schools but in some cases on the larger for-profit postsecondary education sector as a whole. Adverse media coverage regarding other for-profit education companies or other educational institutions could damage our reputation, result in lower enrollments, revenues, and operating profit, and have a negative impact on our stock price. Such coverage could also result in increased scrutiny and regulation by the Department of Education, Congress, accrediting commissions, state legislatures, state attorneys general, or other governmental authorities of all educational institutions, including us.
 
If the percentage of our revenue that is derived from the Title IV programs is too high, we may lose our eligibility to participate in those programs.
 
A for-profit institution loses its eligibility to participate in the Title IV programs if, under a formula that requires cash basis accounting and other adjustments to the calculation of revenue, it derives more than 90% of its revenues from those programs in any fiscal year. The period of ineligibility is at least the next succeeding fiscal year, and any Title IV funds already received by the institution and its students in that succeeding year would have to be returned to the applicable lender or the Department of Education. Using the Department of Education’s formula for this test, we have calculated that, for our 2006 and 2007 fiscal years, we derived approximately 71.5% and 74.0%, respectively, of our revenues from the Title IV programs. Recent changes in federal law that increased Title IV grant and loan limits, and any additional increases in the future, may result in an increase in the revenues we receive from the Title IV programs, which could make it more difficult for us to satisfy this requirement. Exceeding the 90% threshold and losing our eligibility to participate in the Title IV programs for a fiscal year would have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition, and results of operations.
 
We may lose our eligibility to participate in the Title IV programs if our student loan default rates are too high.
 
An institution may lose its eligibility to participate in some or all of the Title IV programs if, for three consecutive years, 25% or more of its students who were required to begin repayment on their student loans in one year default on their payment by the end of the following year. In addition, an institution may lose its eligibility to participate in some or all of the Title IV programs if the default rate of its students exceeds 40% for any single year. Congress is considering legislation that would extend the period for counting student defaults in an institution’s default rate by one additional year, which if enacted is expected to increase the student loan default rates for most institutions. Any increase in interest rates or declines in income or job losses for our students could also contribute to higher default rates on student loans. Exceeding the student loan default rate thresholds and losing our eligibility to participate in the Title IV programs would have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition, and results of operations. Any future changes in the formula for calculating student loan default rates, economic conditions, or other factors that cause our default rates to increase, could place us in danger of losing our eligibility to participate in some or all of the Title IV programs and materially adversely affect us.
 
We are subject to sanctions if we fail to correctly calculate and timely return Title IV program funds for students who withdraw before completing their educational program.
 
A school participating in the Title IV programs must calculate the amount of unearned Title IV program funds that it has disbursed to students who withdraw from their educational programs before completing such programs and must return those unearned funds to the appropriate lender or the Department of Education in a timely manner, generally within 45 days of the date the school determines that the student has withdrawn. If


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the unearned funds are not properly calculated and timely returned for a sufficient percentage of students, we may have to post a letter of credit in favor of the Department of Education equal to 25% of the Title IV funds that should have been returned for such students in the prior fiscal year, and we could be fined or otherwise sanctioned by the Department of Education, which could increase our cost of regulatory compliance and materially adversely affect us.
 
We cannot offer new programs, expand our operations into certain states, or acquire additional schools if such actions are not timely approved by the applicable regulatory agencies, and we may have to repay Title IV funds disbursed to students enrolled in any such programs, schools, or states if we do not obtain prior approval.
 
Our expansion efforts include offering new educational programs. In addition, we may increase our operations in additional states and seek to acquire existing schools from other companies. If we are unable to obtain the necessary approvals for such new programs, operations, or acquisitions from the Department of Education, the Higher Learning Commission, the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education, or any other applicable state education agency or accrediting commission, or if we are unable to obtain such approvals in a timely manner, our ability to consummate the planned actions and provide Title IV funds to any affected students would be impaired, which could have a material adverse effect on our expansion plans. If we were to determine erroneously that any such action did not need approval or had all required approvals, we could be liable for repayment of the Title IV program funds provided to students in that program or at that location.
 
Risks Related to Our Business
 
Our success depends, in part, on the effectiveness of our marketing and advertising programs in recruiting new students.
 
Building awareness of Grand Canyon University and the programs we offer is critical to our ability to attract prospective students. It is also critical to our success that we convert prospective students to enrolled students in a cost-effective manner and that these enrolled students remain active in our programs. Some of the factors that could prevent us from successfully recruiting, enrolling, and retaining students in our programs include:
 
  •  the reduced availability of, or higher interest rates and other costs associated with, Title IV loan funds or other sources of financial aid;
 
  •  the emergence of more successful competitors;
 
  •  factors related to our marketing, including the costs and effectiveness of Internet advertising and broad-based branding campaigns and recruiting efforts;
 
  •  performance problems with our online systems;
 
  •  failure to maintain institutional and specialized accreditations;
 
  •  the requirements of the education agencies that regulate us which restrict schools’ initiation of new programs and modification of existing programs;
 
  •  the requirements of the education agencies that regulate us which restrict the ways schools can compensate their recruitment personnel;
 
  •  increased regulation of online education, including in states in which we do not have a physical presence;
 
  •  restrictions that may be imposed on graduates of online programs that seek certification or licensure in certain states;
 
  •  student dissatisfaction with our services and programs;
 
  •  adverse publicity regarding us, our competitors, or online or for-profit education generally;
 
  •  price reductions by competitors that we are unwilling or unable to match;
 
  •  a decline in the acceptance of online education;


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  •  an adverse economic or other development that affects job prospects in our core disciplines; and
 
  •  a decrease in the perceived or actual economic benefits that students derive from our programs.
 
If we are unable to continue to develop awareness of Grand Canyon University and the programs we offer, and to recruit, enroll, and retain students, our enrollments would suffer and our ability to increase revenues and maintain profitability would be significantly impaired.
 
If we are unable to hire and train new and existing employees responsible for student recruitment, the effectiveness of our student recruiting efforts would be adversely affected.
 
In order to support our planned revenue growth we intend to hire, develop, and train a significant number of additional employees responsible for student recruitment and retain and continue to develop and train our current student recruitment personnel. Our ability to develop and maintain a strong student recruiting function may be affected by a number of factors, including our ability to integrate and motivate our enrollment counselors, our ability to effectively train our enrollment counselors, the length of time it takes new enrollment counselors to become productive, regulatory restrictions on the method of compensating enrollment counselors, and the competition in hiring and retaining enrollment counselors. If we are unable to hire, develop, and retain a sufficient number of qualified enrollment counselors, our ability to increase enrollments would be adversely affected.
 
We will incur increased costs as a result of being a public company, and the requirements of being a public company may divert management attention from our business.
 
As a public company, we will be subject to a number of additional requirements, including the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the listing standards of Nasdaq. These requirements will cause us to incur increased costs and might place a strain on our systems and resources. The Exchange Act requires, among other things, that we file annual, quarterly, and current reports with respect to our business and financial condition. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires, among other things, that we maintain effective disclosure controls and procedures and internal control over financial reporting, and also requires that our internal controls be assessed by management and attested to by our auditors as of December 31 of each year commencing with our year ending December 31, 2009. In order to maintain and improve the effectiveness of our disclosure controls and procedures and internal control over financial reporting, significant resources and management oversight will be required. As a result, our management’s attention might be diverted from other business concerns, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition, and results of operations. Furthermore, we might not be able to retain our independent directors or attract new independent directors for our committees.
 
We have material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting. If we fail to develop or maintain an effective system of internal controls, we may not be able to accurately report our financial results or prevent fraud. As a result, current and potential stockholders could lose confidence in our financial reporting, which would harm our business and the trading price of our common stock.
 
During the preparation of our financial statements for 2005, 2006, and 2007, our management identified material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting, as defined in the standards established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, that affected our financial statements for each of the years in the three-year period ended December 31, 2007. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Internal Control Over Financial Reporting.”
 
The material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting during the past three years related principally to a lack of adequate personnel and procedures for recording certain purchased assets, expenses, leases, and equity instruments. We are in the process of remediating these material weaknesses, but have not yet been able to complete our remediation efforts. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Internal Control Over Financial Reporting.” It will take additional time to design, implement, and test the controls and procedures required to enable our management to conclude that our internal control over financial reporting is effective. We cannot at this time estimate how long it will take to complete our remediation efforts. We cannot assure you that measures we plan to take will


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be effective in mitigating or preventing significant deficiencies or material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting. Any failure to maintain or implement required new or improved controls, or any difficulties we encounter in their implementation, could result in additional material weaknesses, cause us to fail to meet our periodic reporting obligations or result in material misstatements in our financial statements. Any such failure could also adversely affect the results of periodic management evaluations and annual auditor attestation reports regarding the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting that will be required when the SEC’s rules under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 become applicable to us beginning with our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ending December 31, 2009, to be filed in early 2010. The existence of a material weakness could result in errors in our financial statements that could result in a restatement of our financial statements, cause us to fail to meet our reporting obligations and cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information, leading to a decline in our stock price.
 
We operate in a highly competitive industry, and competitors with greater resources could harm our business.
 
The postsecondary education market is highly fragmented and competitive. We compete for students with traditional public and private two-year and four-year colleges and universities and other for-profit schools, including those that offer online learning programs. Many public and private schools, colleges, and universities, including most major colleges and universities, offer online programs. We expect to experience additional competition in the future as more colleges, universities, and for-profit schools offer an increasing number of online programs. Public institutions receive substantial government subsidies, and public and private non-profit institutions have access to government and foundation grants, tax-deductible contributions, and other financial resources generally not available to for-profit schools. Accordingly, public and private non-profit institutions may have instructional and support resources superior to those in the for-profit sector, and public institutions can offer substantially lower tuition prices. Some of our competitors in both the public and private sectors also have substantially greater financial and other resources than we do. We may not be able to compete successfully against current or future competitors and may face competitive pressures that could adversely affect our business, prospects, financial condition, and results of operations. These competitive factors could cause our enrollments, revenues, and profitability to significantly decrease. See “Business — Competition” for further information.
 
Capacity constraints or system disruptions to our online computer networks could have a material adverse effect on our ability to attract and retain students.
 
The performance and reliability of the infrastructure of our online operations are critical to our reputation and to our ability to attract and retain students. Any computer system disruption or failure, or a sudden and significant increase in traffic on the servers that host our online operations, may result in our online courses and programs being unavailable for a period of time. In addition, any significant failure of our computer networks or servers could disrupt our on-campus operations. Individual, sustained, or repeated occurrences could significantly damage the reputation of our online operations and result in a loss of potential or existing students. Additionally, our online operations are vulnerable to interruption or malfunction due to events beyond our control, including natural disasters and network and telecommunications failures. Our computer networks may also be vulnerable to unauthorized access, computer hackers, computer viruses, and other security problems. A user who circumvents security measures could misappropriate proprietary information or cause interruptions to or malfunctions in operations. As a result, we may be required to expend significant resources to protect against the threat of these security breaches or to alleviate problems caused by these incidents. Any interruption to our online operations could have a material adverse effect on our ability to attract students to our online programs and to retain those students.
 
We may not be able to successfully implement our growth strategy if we are not able to improve the content of our existing academic programs or to develop new programs on a timely basis and in a cost-effective manner, or at all.
 
We continually seek to improve the content of our existing programs and develop new programs in order to meet changing market needs. The success of any of our programs and courses, both ground and online,


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depends in part on our ability to expand the content of our existing programs, develop new programs in a cost-effective manner, and meet the needs of existing and prospective students and employers in a timely manner, as well as on the acceptance of our actions by existing or prospective students and employers. As of December 31, 2007, we offered 65 fully online programs, 17 of which we introduced in 2007 and many of which were based on our existing ground programs. In the future, we may develop programs solely, or initially, for online use, which may pose new challenges, including the need to develop course content without having an existing program on which such content can be based. Even if we are able to develop acceptable new programs, we may not be able to introduce these new programs in a timely fashion or as quickly as our competitors are able to introduce competing programs. If we do not respond adequately to changes in market conditions, our ability to attract and retain students could be impaired and our business, prospects, financial condition, and results of operations could suffer.
 
The development and approval of new programs and courses, both ground and online, are subject to requirements and limitations imposed by the Department of Education, state licensing agencies, and the relevant accrediting commissions, and in certain cases, such as with our newly approved doctoral program in education, involves a process that can take several years to complete. The imposition of restrictions on the initiation of new educational programs by any of our regulatory agencies, or delays in obtaining approvals of such programs, may delay our expansion plans. Establishing new academic programs or modifying existing academic programs may also require us to make investments in specialized personnel, increase marketing efforts, and reallocate resources. We may have limited experience with the subject matter of new programs.
 
If we are unable to expand our existing programs, offer new programs on a timely basis or in a cost-effective manner, or otherwise manage effectively the operations of newly established programs, our business, prospects, financial condition, and results of operations could be adversely affected.
 
Our failure to keep pace with changing market needs and technology could harm our ability to attract students.
 
Our success depends to a large extent on the willingness of employers to employ, promote, or increase the pay of our graduates. Increasingly, employers demand that their new employees possess appropriate technical and analytical skills and also appropriate interpersonal skills, such as communication, and teamwork skills. These skills can evolve rapidly in a changing economic and technological environment. Accordingly, it is important that our educational programs evolve in response to those economic and technological changes. The expansion of existing academic programs and the development of new programs may not be accepted by current or prospective students or by the employers of our graduates. Even if we are able to develop acceptable new programs, we may not be able to begin offering those new programs in a timely fashion or as quickly as our competitors offer similar programs. If we are unable to adequately respond to changes in market requirements due to regulatory or financial constraints, unusually rapid technological changes, or other factors, the rates at which our graduates obtain jobs in their fields of study could suffer, our ability to attract and retain students could be impaired, and our business, prospects, financial condition, and results of operations could be adversely affected.
 
If we do not maintain existing, and develop additional, relationships with employers, our future growth may be impaired.
 
We currently have relationships with large school districts and healthcare systems, primarily in Arizona, and also recently began seeking relationships with national and international employers, to provide their employees with the opportunity to obtain degrees through us while continuing their employment. These relationships are an important part of our strategy as they provide us with a steady source of potential working adult students for particular programs and also serve to increase our reputation among high-profile employers. If we are unable to develop new relationships, or if our existing relationships deteriorate or end, our efforts to seek these sources of potential working adult students will be impaired, and this could materially and adversely affect our business, prospects, financial condition, and results of operations.


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Our failure to effectively manage our growth could harm our business.
 
Our business recently has experienced rapid growth. Growth and expansion of our operations may place a significant strain on our resources and increase demands on our executive management team, management information and reporting systems, financial management controls and personnel, and regulatory compliance systems and personnel. We may not be able to maintain or accelerate our current growth rate, effectively manage our expanding operations, or achieve planned growth on a timely or profitable basis. If we are unable to manage our growth effectively, we may experience operating inefficiencies and our earnings may be materially adversely affected.
 
Our success depends upon our ability to recruit and retain key personnel.
 
Our success to date has largely depended on, and will continue to depend on, the skills, efforts, and motivation of our executive officers, who generally have significant experience with our company and within the education industry. Our success also largely depends on our ability to attract and retain highly qualified faculty, school administrators, and additional corporate management personnel. We may have difficulties in locating and hiring qualified personnel and in retaining such personnel once hired. In addition, other than non-compete agreements of limited duration that we have with certain executive officers, we do not generally seek non-compete agreements with key personnel and they may leave and subsequently compete against us. The loss of the services of any of our key personnel, many of whom are not party to employment agreements with us, or our failure to attract and retain other qualified and experienced personnel on acceptable terms, could cause our business to suffer.
 
The protection of our operations through exclusive proprietary rights and intellectual property is limited, and from time to time we encounter disputes relating to our use of intellectual property of third parties, any of which could harm our operations and prospects.
 
In the ordinary course of our business we develop intellectual property of many kinds that is or will be the subject of copyright, trademark, service mark, patent, trade secret, or other protections. This intellectual property includes but is not limited to courseware materials and business know-how and internal processes and procedures developed to respond to the requirements of operating our business and to comply with the rules and regulations of various education regulatory agencies. We rely on a combination of copyrights, trademarks, service marks, trade secrets, domain names, and agreements to protect our intellectual property. We rely on service mark and trademark protection in the United States to protect our rights to the mark “Grand Canyon University,” as well as distinctive logos and other marks associated with our services. We rely on agreements under which we obtain rights to use course content developed by faculty members and other third party content experts, as well as license agreements pursuant to which we license the right to brand certain of our program offerings. We cannot assure you that the measures that we take will be adequate or that we have secured, or will be able to secure, appropriate protections for all of our proprietary rights in the United States or select foreign jurisdictions, or that third parties will not infringe upon or violate our proprietary rights. Unauthorized third parties may attempt to duplicate or copy the proprietary aspects of our curricula, online resource material, and other content, and offer competing programs to ours.
 
In particular, we license the right to utilize the name of Ken Blanchard in connection with our business school and Executive MBA programs and have spent significant resources in related branding efforts. Nevertheless, our license agreement with Blanchard Education, LLC has a fixed term and may not necessarily be extended in the future. In addition, third parties may attempt to develop competing programs or copy aspects of our curriculum, online resource material, quality management, and other proprietary content. The termination of this license agreement, or attempts to compete with or duplicate our programs, if successful, could adversely affect our business. Protecting these types of intellectual property rights can be difficult, particularly as it relates to the development by our competitors of competing courses and programs.
 
We may from time to time encounter disputes over rights and obligations concerning intellectual property, and we may not prevail in these disputes. In certain instances, we may not have obtained sufficient rights in the content of a course. Third parties may raise a claim against us alleging an infringement or violation of the intellectual property of that third party. Some third-party intellectual property rights may be extremely broad, and it may not be possible for us to conduct our operations in such a way as to avoid those intellectual


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property rights. Any such intellectual property claim could subject us to costly litigation and impose a significant strain on our financial resources and management personnel regardless of whether such claim has merit, and we may be required to alter the content of our classes or pay monetary damages, which may be significant.
 
We are subject to laws and regulations as a result of our collection and use of personal information, and any violations of such laws or regulations, or any breach, theft, or loss of such information, could adversely affect our reputation and operations.
 
Possession and use of personal information in our operations subjects us to risks and costs that could harm our business. We collect, use, and retain large amounts of personal information regarding our applicants, students, faculty, staff, and their families, including social security numbers, tax return information, personal and family financial data, and credit card numbers. We also collect and maintain personal information of our employees in the ordinary course of our business. Our services can be accessed globally through the Internet. Therefore, we may be subject to the application of national privacy laws in countries outside the U.S. from which applicants and students access our services. Such privacy laws could impose conditions that limit the way we market and provide our services.
 
Our computer networks and the networks of certain of our vendors that hold and manage confidential information on our behalf may be vulnerable to unauthorized access, employee theft or misuse, computer hackers, computer viruses, and other security threats. Confidential information may also inadvertently become available to third parties when we integrate systems or migrate data to our servers following an acquisition of a school or in connection with periodic hardware or software upgrades.
 
Due to the sensitive nature of the personal information stored on our servers, our networks may be targeted by hackers seeking to access this data. A user who circumvents security measures could misappropriate sensitive information or cause interruptions or malfunctions in our operations. Although we use security and business controls to limit access and use of personal information, a third party may be able to circumvent those security and business controls, which could result in a breach of student or employee privacy. In addition, errors in the storage, use, or transmission of personal information could result in a breach of privacy for current or prospective students or employees. Possession and use of personal information in our operations also subjects us to legislative and regulatory burdens that could require notification of data breaches and restrict our use of personal information, and a violation of any laws or regulations relating to the collection or use of personal information could result in the imposition of fines against us. As a result, we may be required to expend significant resources to protect against the threat of these security breaches or to alleviate problems caused by these breaches. A major breach, theft, or loss of personal information regarding our students and their families or our employees that is held by us or our vendors, or a violation of laws or regulations relating to the same, could have a material adverse effect on our reputation and result in further regulation and oversight by federal and state authorities and increased costs of compliance.
 
We operate in a highly competitive market with rapid technological change, and we may not have the resources needed to compete successfully.
 
Online education is a highly competitive market that is characterized by rapid changes in students’ technological requirements and expectations and evolving market standards. Our competitors vary in size and organization, and we compete for students with traditional public and private two-year and four-year colleges and universities and other for-profit schools, including those that offer online learning programs. Each of these competitors may develop platforms or other technologies, including technologies such as streaming video, that allow for greater levels of interactivity between faculty and students, that are superior to the platform and technology we use, and these differences may affect our ability to recruit and retain students. We may not have the resources necessary to acquire or compete with technologies being developed by our competitors, which may render our online delivery format less competitive or obsolete.


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At present we derive a significant portion of our revenues and operating income from our graduate programs.
 
As of December 31, 2007, approximately 62% of our students were graduate students. Although we anticipate that this percentage will decline over time due as a result of our planned growth emphasis in our undergraduate business and liberal arts programs, if we were to experience any event that adversely affected our graduate offerings or the attractiveness of our programs to prospective graduate students, our business, prospects, financial condition, and results of operations could be significantly and adversely affected.
 
We may incur liability for the unauthorized duplication or distribution of class materials posted online for class discussions.
 
In some instances, our faculty members or our students may post various articles or other third-party content on class discussion boards. Third parties may raise claims against us for the unauthorized duplication of material posted online for class discussions. Any such claims could subject us to costly litigation and impose a significant strain on our financial resources and management personnel regardless of whether the claims have merit. Our general liability insurance may not cover potential claims of this type adequately or at all, and we may be required to alter the content of our courses or pay monetary damages, which may be significant.
 
We use third-party software for our online classroom, and if the provider of that software were to cease to do business or was acquired by a competitor, we may have difficulty maintaining the software required for our online classroom or updating it for future technological changes, which could adversely affect our performance.
 
Our online classroom employs the ANGEL Learning Management Suite pursuant to a license from ANGEL Learning, Inc. The ANGEL system is a web-based portal that stores, manages, and delivers course content; enables assignment uploading; provides interactive communication between students and faculty; and supplies online evaluation tools. We rely on ANGEL Learning, Inc. for administrative support of the ANGEL system and, if ANGEL Learning, Inc. ceased to operate or was unable or unwilling to continue to provide us with services or upgrades on a timely basis, we may have difficulty maintaining the software required for our online classroom or updating it for future technological changes. Any failure to maintain our online classroom would have an adverse impact on our operations, damage our reputation, and limit our ability to attract and retain students.
 
Seasonal and other fluctuations in our results of operations could adversely affect the trading price of our common stock.
 
Our net revenue and operating results normally fluctuate as a result of seasonal variations in our business, principally due to changes in enrollment, and are typically lowest in our second fiscal quarter and highest in our fourth fiscal quarter. Accordingly, our results in any quarter may not indicate the results we may achieve in any subsequent quarter or for the full year. Student population varies as a result of new enrollments, graduations, and student attrition. A significant portion of our general and administrative expenses do not vary proportionately with fluctuations in revenues. We expect quarterly fluctuations in operating results to continue as a result of seasonal enrollment patterns. Such patterns may change, however, as a result of new program introductions, the timing of colloquia and events, and increased enrollments of students. These fluctuations may result in volatility or have an adverse effect on the market price of our common stock.
 
We only recently began operating as a for-profit company and have a limited operating history as a for-profit company. Accordingly, our historical and recent financial and business results may not necessarily be representative of what they will be in the future.
 
We have only operated as a for-profit company with private ownership interests since February 2004. We have a limited operating history as a for-profit business on which you can evaluate our management decisions, business strategy, and financial results. Moreover, until October 2006, we operated under various Department of Education limitations on our growth and activities. As a result, our historical and recent financial and business results may not necessarily be representative of what they will be in the future. We are subject to risks, uncertainties, expenses, and difficulties associated with changing and implementing our business strategy


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that are not typically encountered by established for-profit companies. As a result, we may not be able to operate effectively as a for-profit corporation. It is possible that we may incur significant operating losses in the future and that we may not be able to achieve or sustain long-term profitability.
 
Our current success and future growth depend on the continued acceptance of the Internet and the corresponding growth in users seeking educational services on the Internet.
 
Our business relies in part on the Internet for its success. A number of factors could inhibit the continued acceptance of the Internet and adversely affect our profitability, including:
 
  •  inadequate Internet infrastructure;
 
  •  security and privacy concerns;
 
  •  the unavailability of cost-effective Internet service and other technological factors; and
 
  •  changes in government regulation of Internet use.
 
If Internet use decreases, or if the number of Internet users seeking educational services on the Internet does not increase, our business may not grow as planned.
 
Government regulations relating to the Internet could increase our cost of doing business, affect our ability to grow or otherwise have a material adverse effect on our business.
 
The increasing popularity and use of the Internet and other online services has led and may lead to the adoption of new laws and regulatory practices in the United States or foreign countries and to new interpretations of existing laws and regulations. These new laws and interpretations may relate to issues such as online privacy, copyrights, trademarks and service marks, sales taxes, fair business practices, and the requirement that online education institutions qualify to do business as foreign corporations or be licensed in one or more jurisdictions where they have no physical location or other presence. New laws and regulations or interpretations thereof related to doing business over the Internet could increase our costs and materially and adversely affect our business, prospects, financial condition, and results of operations.
 
A reclassification of our online faculty by federal or state authorities from independent contractor to employee status could materially increase our costs.
 
A majority of our faculty at December 31, 2007 were online faculty, whom we treat as independent contractors. Because we classify our online faculty as independent contractors, we do not withhold federal or state income or other employment-related taxes, make federal or state unemployment tax or Federal Insurance Contributions Act, or FICA, payments or provide workers’ compensation insurance with respect to our online faculty. The determination of whether online faculty members are properly classified as independent contractors or as employees is based upon the facts and circumstances of our relationship with our online faculty members. Federal or state authorities may challenge our classification as incorrect and assert that our online faculty members must be classified as employees. In the event that we were to reclassify our online faculty as employees, we would be required to withhold the appropriate taxes, make unemployment tax and FICA payments, and pay for workers’ compensation insurance and additional payroll processing costs. If we had reclassified our online faculty members as employees for 2007, we estimate our additional tax, workers’ compensation insurance, and payroll processing payments would have been approximately $1.2 million for that year. The amount of additional tax and insurance payments would increase in the future as the total amount we pay to online faculty increases. In addition to these known costs, we could be subject to retroactive taxes and penalties, which may be significant, by federal and state authorities, which could adversely affect our business, prospects, financial condition, and results of operations.
 
We may incur significant costs complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act and similar laws.
 
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, or the ADA, all public accommodations must meet federal requirements related to access and use by disabled persons. Additional federal, state, and local laws also may require modifications to our properties, or restrict our ability to renovate our properties. For example, the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, or FHAA, requires apartment properties first occupied after March 13, 1990 to be accessible to the handicapped. We have not conducted an audit or investigation of all of


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our properties to determine our compliance with present requirements. Noncompliance with the ADA or FHAA could result in the imposition of fines or an award or damages to private litigants and also could result in an order to correct any non-complying feature. We cannot predict the ultimate amount of the cost of compliance with the ADA, FHAA, or other legislation. If we incur substantial costs to comply with the ADA, FHAA, or any other legislation, we could be materially and adversely affected.
 
Our failure to comply with environmental laws and regulations governing our activities could result in financial penalties and other costs.
 
We use hazardous materials at our ground campus and generate small quantities of waste, such as used oil, antifreeze, paint, car batteries, and laboratory materials. As a result, we are subject to a variety of environmental laws and regulations governing, among other things, the use, storage, and disposal of solid and hazardous substances and waste, and the clean-up of contamination at our facilities or off-site locations to which we send or have sent waste for disposal. In the event we do not maintain compliance with any of these laws and regulations, or are responsible for a spill or release of hazardous materials, we could incur significant costs for clean-up, damages, and fines, or penalties which could adversely impact our business, prospects, financial condition, and results of operations.
 
If we expand in the future into new markets outside the United States, we would be subject to risks inherent in non-domestic operations.
 
If we acquire schools or establish programs in new markets outside the United States, we will face risks that are inherent in non-domestic operations, including the complexity of operations across borders, new regulatory regimes, currency exchange rate fluctuations, monetary policy risks, such as inflation, hyperinflation and deflation, and potential political and economic instability in the countries into which we expand.
 
Our failure to obtain additional capital in the future could adversely affect our ability to grow.
 
We believe that the proceeds from this offering being retained by us, funds from operations, cash, and investments will be adequate to fund our current operating and growth plans for the foreseeable future. However, we may need additional financing in order to finance our continued growth, particularly if we pursue any acquisitions. The amount, timing, and terms of such additional financing will vary principally depending on the timing and size of new program offerings, the timing and size of acquisitions we may seek to consummate, and the amount of cash flows from our operations. To the extent that we require additional financing in the future, such financing may not be available on terms acceptable to us or at all, and, consequently, we may not be able to fully implement our growth strategy.
 
If we are not able to integrate acquired schools, our business could be harmed.
 
From time to time, we may pursue acquisitions of other schools. Integrating acquired operations into our institution involves significant risks and uncertainties, including:
 
  •  inability to maintain uniform standards, controls, policies, and procedures;
 
  •  distraction of management’s attention from normal business operations during the integration process;
 
  •  inability to obtain, or delay in obtaining, approval of the acquisition from the necessary regulatory agencies, or the imposition of operating restrictions or a letter of credit requirement on us or on the acquired school by any of those regulatory agencies;
 
  •  expenses associated with the integration efforts; and
 
  •  unidentified issues not discovered in our due diligence process, including legal contingencies.
 
If we complete one or more acquisitions and are unable to integrate acquired operations successfully, our business could suffer.


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Risks Related to the Offering
 
There is no existing market for our common stock, and we do not know if one will develop to provide you with adequate liquidity.
 
Immediately prior to this offering, there has been no public market for our common stock. An active and liquid public market for our common stock may not develop or be sustained after this offering. The price of our common stock in any such market may be higher or lower than the price you pay. If you purchase shares of common stock in this offering, you will pay a price that was not established in a competitive market. Rather, you will pay the price that we negotiated with the representatives of the underwriters and such price may not be indicative of prices that will prevail in the open market following this offering.
 
The price of our common stock may fluctuate significantly, and you could lose all or part of your investment.
 
Volatility in the market price of our common stock may prevent you from being able to sell your shares at or above the price you paid for your shares. The market price of our common stock could fluctuate significantly for various reasons, which include:
 
  •  our quarterly or annual earnings or earnings of other companies in our industry;
 
  •  the public’s reaction to our press releases, our other public announcements, and our filings with the SEC;
 
  •  changes in earnings estimates or recommendations by research analysts who track our common stock or the stocks of other companies in our industry;
 
  •  changes in our number of enrolled students;
 
  •  new laws or regulations or new interpretations of laws or regulations applicable to our business;
 
  •  seasonal variations in our student population;
 
  •  the availability and cost of Title IV funds, other student financial aid, and private loans;
 
  •  the failure to maintain or keep in good standing our regulatory approvals and accreditations;
 
  •  changes in accounting standards, policies, guidance, interpretations, or principles;
 
  •  changes in general conditions in the U.S. and global economies or financial markets, including those resulting from war, incidents of terrorism, or responses to such events;
 
  •  an adverse economic or other development that affects job prospects in our core disciplines;
 
  •  litigation involving our company or investigations or audits by regulators into the operations of our company or our competitors; and
 
  •  sales of common stock by our directors, executive officers, and significant stockholders.
 
In addition, in recent years, the stock market has experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations. This volatility has had a significant impact on the market price of securities issued by many companies, including companies in our industry. The changes frequently appear to occur without regard to the operating performance of these companies. The price of our common stock could fluctuate based upon factors that have little or nothing to do with our company, and these fluctuations could materially reduce our stock price.
 
Our executive officers, directors, and principal existing stockholders will continue to own a large percentage of our voting stock after this offering, which may allow them to collectively control substantially all matters requiring stockholder approval and, in the case of certain of our principal stockholders, will have other unique rights that may afford them access to our management.
 
Our directors, executive officers, and principal existing stockholders will beneficially own approximately           shares, or     %, of our common stock upon the completion of this offering. Our directors and executive officers will beneficially own in the aggregate approximately          shares, or     %, of our common stock after the offering, including approximately           shares, or     %, of our common stock that will be beneficially owned by Brent Richardson and Chris Richardson and their affiliates. In addition, pursuant to a voting agreement to be entered into among the Richardsons and certain of our existing


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stockholders, the Richardsons will have voting control over approximately  % or our common stock after the offering. Accordingly, the Richardsons could control us through their ability to determine the outcome of the election of our directors, to amend our certificate of incorporation and bylaws, to take other actions requiring the vote or consent of stockholders, including mergers, going private transactions, and other extraordinary transactions, and to make decisions concerning the terms of any of these transactions. The ownership and voting positions of these stockholders may have the effect of delaying, deterring, or preventing a change in control or a change in the composition of our board of directors. These stockholders may also use their contractual rights, including access to management, and their large ownership position to address their own interests, which may be different from those of our other stockholders, including investors in this offering.
 
Your percentage ownership in us may be diluted by future issuances of capital stock, which could reduce your influence over matters on which stockholders vote.
 
Following the completion of this offering, our board of directors has the authority, without action or vote of our stockholders, to issue all or any part of our authorized but unissued shares of common stock, including shares issuable upon the exercise of options, shares that may be issued to satisfy our payment obligations under our incentive plans, or shares of our authorized but unissued preferred stock. Issuances of common stock or voting preferred stock would reduce your influence over matters on which our stockholders vote, and, in the case of issuances of preferred stock, likely would result in your interest in us being subject to the prior rights of holders of that preferred stock.
 
The sale of a substantial number of shares of our common stock after this offering may cause the market price of shares of our common stock to decline.
 
Sales of our common stock by existing investors may begin shortly after the completion of this offering. Sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock in the public market following this offering, or the perception that these sales could occur, could cause the market price of our common stock to decline. The shares of our common stock outstanding prior to this offering will be eligible for sale in the public market at various times in the future. All of our directors, executive officers, and stockholders agreed with the underwriters, subject to certain exceptions, not to dispose of or hedge any of their common stock or securities convertible into or exchangeable for shares of common stock until 180 days after the date of this prospectus, except with the prior written consent of the representatives identified in the section of this prospectus entitled “Underwriting.” Upon expiration of this lock-up period, up to approximately           additional shares of common stock may be eligible for sale in the public market without restriction, and up to approximately           shares of common stock held by affiliates may become eligible for sale, subject to the restrictions under Rule 144 of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act.
 
You will incur immediate and substantial dilution in the net tangible book value of your shares.
 
If you purchase shares in this offering, the value of your shares based on our actual book value will immediately be less than the price you paid. This reduction in the value of your equity is known as dilution. This dilution occurs in large part because our earlier investors paid substantially less than the initial public offering price when they purchased their shares of our common stock. Based upon the issuance and sale of           shares of our common stock by us in this offering at an assumed initial public offering price of $      per share, the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, you will incur immediate dilution of $     in the net tangible book value per share. A $1.00 increase or decrease in the assumed initial public offering price of $      per share would increase or decrease, as applicable, our as adjusted net tangible book value per share of common stock by $     , and increase or decrease, as applicable, the dilution per share of common stock to new investors by $     , assuming the number of shares offered by us, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, remains the same, after deducting the estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us and after payment of the special distribution to our existing stockholders. If the underwriters exercise their over-allotment option, or if outstanding options to purchase our common stock are exercised, investors will experience additional dilution. For more information, see “Dilution.”


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Provisions in our charter documents and the Delaware General Corporation Law could make it more difficult for a third party to acquire us and could discourage a takeover and adversely affect existing stockholders.
 
Anti-takeover provisions of our certificate of incorporation, bylaws, the Delaware General Corporation Law, or DGCL, and regulations of state and federal education agencies could diminish the opportunity for stockholders to participate in acquisition proposals at a price above the then-current market price of our common stock. For example, while we have no present plans to issue any preferred stock, our board of directors, without further stockholder approval, may issue shares of undesignated preferred stock and fix the powers, preferences, rights, and limitations of such class or series, which could adversely affect the voting power of your shares. In addition, our bylaws provide for an advance notice procedure for nomination of candidates to our board of directors that could have the effect of delaying, deterring, or preventing a change in control. Further, as a Delaware corporation, we are subject to provisions of the DGCL regarding “business combinations,” which can deter attempted takeovers in certain situations. The approval requirements of the Department of Education, our regional accrediting commission, and state education agencies for a change in control transaction could also delay, deter, or prevent a transaction that would result in a change in control. We may, in the future, consider adopting additional anti-takeover measures. The authority of our board to issue undesignated preferred or other capital stock and the anti-takeover provisions of the DGCL, as well as other current and any future anti-takeover measures adopted by us, may, in certain circumstances, delay, deter, or prevent takeover attempts and other changes in control of the company not approved by our board of directors. See “Description of Capital Stock” for further information.
 
We currently do not intend to pay dividends on our common stock and, consequently, your only opportunity to achieve a return on your investment is if the price of our common stock appreciates.
 
After we make the special distribution to our existing stockholders using the proceeds of this offering as described under “Use of Proceeds,” we do not expect to pay dividends on shares of our common stock in the foreseeable future and intend to use cash to grow our business. The payment of cash dividends in the future, if any, will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend upon such factors as earnings levels, capital requirements, our overall financial condition, and any other factors deemed relevant by our board of directors. Consequently, your only opportunity to achieve a positive return on your investment in us will be if the market price of our common stock appreciates.
 
We will have broad discretion in applying the net proceeds of this offering and may not use those proceeds in ways that will enhance the market value of our common stock.
 
We have significant flexibility in applying the net proceeds we will receive in this offering. We intend to use a substantial portion of the proceeds that we receive from the sale of stock in this offering to fund the special distribution payable to our existing stockholders and to use the remainder to redeem an outstanding warrant to purchase shares of our common stock and to pay the expenses of this offering and for general corporate purposes. As part of your investment decision, you will not be able to assess or direct how we apply these net proceeds. If we do not apply these funds effectively, we may lose significant business opportunities. Furthermore, our stock price could decline if the market does not view our use of the net proceeds from this offering favorably.


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FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
 
This prospectus contains “forward-looking statements,” which include information relating to future events, future financial performance, strategies, expectations, competitive environment, regulation, and availability of resources. These forward-looking statements include, without limitation, statements regarding: proposed new programs; expectations that regulatory developments or other matters will not have a material adverse effect on our financial position, results of operations, or liquidity; statements concerning projections, predictions, expectations, estimates, or forecasts as to our business, financial and operational results, and future economic performance; and statements of management’s goals and objectives and other similar expressions concerning matters that are not historical facts. Words such as “may,” “should,” “could,” “would,” “predicts,” “potential,” “continue,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “future,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes,” “estimates” and similar expressions, as well as statements in future tense, identify forward-looking statements.
 
Forward-looking statements should not be read as a guarantee of future performance or results, and will not necessarily be accurate indications of the times at, or by, which such performance or results will be achieved. Forward-looking statements are based on information available at the time those statements are made or management’s good faith belief as of that time with respect to future events, and are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual performance or results to differ materially from those expressed in or suggested by the forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause such differences include, but are not limited to:
 
  •  our failure to comply with the extensive regulatory framework applicable to our industry, including Title IV of the Higher Education Act and the regulations thereunder, state laws and regulatory requirements, and accrediting commission requirements;
 
  •  the ability of our students to obtain federal Title IV funds, state financial aid, and private financing;
 
  •  risks associated with changes in applicable federal and state laws and regulations and accrediting commission standards;
 
  •  our ability to hire and train new, and develop and train existing, enrollment counselors;
 
  •  the pace of growth of our enrollment;
 
  •  our ability to convert prospective students to enrolled students and to retain active students;
 
  •  our success in updating and expanding the content of existing programs and developing new programs in a cost-effective manner or on a timely basis;
 
  •  industry competition;
 
  •  risks associated with the competitive environment for marketing our programs;
 
  •  failure on our part to keep up with advances in technology that could enhance the online experience for our students;
 
  •  our ability to manage future growth effectively;
 
  •  general adverse economic conditions or other developments that affect job prospects in our core disciplines; and
 
  •  other factors discussed under the headings “Risk Factors,” “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” “Business,” and “Regulation.”
 
Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date the statements are made. You should not put undue reliance on any forward-looking statements. We assume no obligation to update forward-looking statements to reflect actual results, changes in assumptions, or changes in other factors affecting forward-looking information, except to the extent required by applicable securities laws. If we do update one or more forward-looking statements, no inference should be drawn that we will make additional updates with respect to those or other forward-looking statements.


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USE OF PROCEEDS
 
The net proceeds from the sale of           shares of our common stock offered by us in this offering will be approximately $      million (or approximately $      million if the underwriters exercise their over-allotment option in full), assuming an initial public offering price of $      per share, which is the midpoint of the range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, and after deducting the underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.
 
We will declare a special distribution equal to     % of the gross proceeds of this offering that will be payable promptly upon the completion of this offering to our stockholders of record as of          , 2008. We will make this distribution upon completion of the offering. See “Special Distribution” for further information.
 
In 2004, we issued a warrant to purchase shares of our common stock in connection with a sale-leaseback transaction we entered into relating to our ground campus. Under the original terms of the warrant, we were entitled to repurchase the warrant for an aggregate price of $16.0 million. Under an amendment to the warrant that was effected in connection with our 2005 conversion from a limited liability company to a corporation, the right to repurchase the warrant, as well as a right to repurchase any shares issued upon exercise of the warrant, in each case for $16.0 million, was transferred to a holding company whose sole purpose was to hold the equity interests of all of our members at the time of conversion. In connection with this offering, if such investors do not exercise such right, then we may exercise the right to repurchase the warrant or the underlying shares. We intend to use up to $16.0 million of the gross proceeds of this offering to repurchase any portion of the warrant or the underlying shares not purchased by such investors.
 
We intend to use the remaining proceeds and any proceeds we receive from the underwriters’ exercise of their over-allotment option to pay the expenses of this offering and for general corporate purposes.
 
Each $1.00 increase or decrease in the assumed public offering price of $      per share would increase or decrease, as applicable, the aggregate amount of the special distribution by $      million, the per share amount of the special distribution by $      on an as-if converted basis and the net proceeds to us by approximately $      million, assuming the number of shares offered by us, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, remains the same and, with respect to the net proceeds to us, after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. Similarly, any increase or decrease in the number of shares that we sell in the offering will increase or decrease the special distribution and our net proceeds in proportion to such increase or decrease, as applicable, multiplied by the offering price per share, with respect to our net proceeds, less underwriting discounts and commissions and offering expenses.


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SPECIAL DISTRIBUTION
 
We intend to declare a special distribution equal to     % of the gross proceeds of this offering that will be paid promptly upon the completion of this offering to our stockholders of record as of     , 2008. Of the estimated aggregate amount of the special distribution of $      million, assuming an initial public offering price of $      per share, which is the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover of this prospectus, $      million will be paid in respect of shares of our capital stock over which our directors and executive officers as a group are deemed to exercise sole or shared voting or investment power. These proceeds will be allocated as set forth in the following table.
 
         
    Special Distribution  
 
Directors
       
Chad N. Heath(1)
  $    
D. Mark Dorman(1)
  $    
Executive Officers
       
Brent D. Richardson
  $    
John E. Crowley
  $    
Christopher C. Richardson
  $    
All directors and executive officers as a group
  $  
 
 
(1) Represents shares owned by Endeavour Capital Fund IV, L.P. and certain affiliated funds. D. Mark Dorman and Chad N. Heath, two of our directors, are managing directors of Endeavour Capital IV, LLC, the general partner of such funds.
 
See “Certain Relationships and Related Transactions — Special Distribution” for additional information regarding the beneficiaries of the special distribution.
 
DIVIDEND POLICY
 
Except as described under “Special Distribution” above, we do not anticipate declaring or paying any cash dividends on our common stock in the foreseeable future. The payment of any dividends in the future will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend upon our financial condition, results of operations, earnings, capital requirements, contractual restrictions, outstanding indebtedness, and other factors deemed relevant by our board. As a result, you will need to sell your shares of common stock to realize a return on your investment, and you may not be able to sell your shares at or above the price you paid for them.


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CAPITALIZATION
 
The following table sets forth our capitalization as of December 31, 2007:
 
  •  on an actual basis;
 
  •  on a pro forma basis, giving effect to:
 
  (i)   the automatic conversion of all outstanding shares of Series A preferred stock into 5,953 shares of common stock upon the closing of the offering;
 
  (ii)   the automatic conversion of all outstanding shares of Series C preferred stock into           shares of common stock upon the closing of the offering at a conversion rate equal to their liquidation preference per share divided by the initial public offering price per share, which is estimated to be $      per share, which is the midpoint of the range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus;
 
  (iii)  the cancellation in April 2008 of a warrant to purchase common stock issued to our former owner in connection with our acquisition of Grand Canyon University; and
 
  (iv)  the issuance in May 2008 of 200 shares of common stock to Blanchard Education, LLC under the terms of a license agreement, as amended, between us and Blanchard Education, LLC relating to the naming of, and other rights associated with, the Ken Blanchard College of Business; and
 
  •  on a pro forma, as adjusted basis, giving effect to the pro forma adjustments above, as well as:
 
  (i)  our sale of           shares of our common stock in this offering (at an assumed initial public offering price of $      per share, which is the midpoint of the range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus and after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us);
 
  (ii)  the payment of a special distribution to our existing stockholders in the amount of     % of the anticipated gross proceeds from the sale of common stock by us in this offering, which is expected to occur promptly upon the consummation of this offering;
 
  (iii)  the repurchase by us of an outstanding warrant to purchase common stock for up to $16.0 million in cash as described in “Use of Proceeds;” and
 
  (iv)  the amendment and restatement of our certificate of incorporation in connection with the closing of this offering, which will increase our authorized capital stock.


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You should read this table together with “Use of Proceeds,” “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” “Description of Capital Stock,” and our financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this prospectus.
 
                         
    As of December 31, 2007  
                Pro Forma,
 
    Actual     Pro Forma     as Adjusted  
    (In thousands, except share data)  
 
Cash and cash equivalents(1)
  $ 23,210     $           $        
                         
Capital lease obligations
    29,228     $           $        
Other indebtedness
    8,408     $       $    
Series A preferred stock: $0.01 par value; 9,700 shares authorized, 5,953 shares issued and outstanding, actual; no shares authorized, issued, and outstanding, pro forma and pro forma, as adjusted
    18,610                  
Series B preferred stock: $0.01 par value; 2,200 shares authorized, no shares issued and outstanding, actual; no shares authorized, issued, and outstanding, pro forma and pro forma, as adjusted
                     
Series C preferred stock: $0.01 par value; 3,900 shares authorized, 3,829 shares issued and outstanding, actual; no shares authorized, issued, and outstanding, pro forma and pro forma, as adjusted
    13,338                  
Stockholders’ equity:
                       
Undesignated preferred stock: $0.01 par value; no shares authorized, issued and outstanding, actual and pro forma;          shares authorized, no shares issued and outstanding, pro forma, as adjusted
                     
Common stock: $0.01 par value; 30,000 shares authorized, 10,325 shares issued and outstanding, actual; 30,000 shares authorized,           shares issued and outstanding, pro forma;       shares authorized,       shares issued and outstanding pro forma, as adjusted
                     
Additional paid-in capital(1)
    7,511                  
Accumulated other comprehensive income
    80                  
Accumulated equity (deficit)
    (15,383 )                
                         
Total stockholders’ equity (deficit)
    (7,792 )                
                         
Total capitalization
  $ 61,792     $       $  
                         
 
 
(1) A $1.00 increase or decrease in the assumed initial public offering price per share would increase or decrease cash, cash equivalents, and short-term marketable securities by $      million, would increase or decrease additional paid-in capital by $      million, and would increase or decrease total stockholders’ equity and total capitalization by $      million, after deducting the underwriting discount, the repurchase of the warrant described in the introductory paragraph to this table, the payment of a special distribution to our existing stockholders in the amount of     % of the aggregate proceeds from the sale of common stock by us in this offering, and the estimated offering expenses payable by us. Similarly, any increase or decrease in the number of shares that we sell in the offering will increase or decrease our net proceeds in proportion to such increase or decrease, as applicable, multiplied by the offering price per share, less underwriting discounts and commissions and offering expenses.


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DILUTION
 
Purchasers of the common stock in the offering will suffer an immediate and substantial dilution in net tangible book value per share. Dilution is the amount by which the initial public offering price paid by purchasers of shares of our common stock exceeds the net tangible book value per share of our common stock after the offering.
 
As of December 31, 2007, our pro forma net tangible book value would have been $      million or, $     per share. Pro forma net tangible book value per share represents the amount of our total tangible assets reduced by our total liabilities, divided by the number of shares of common stock outstanding after giving effect to the issuance of 200 shares of common stock to Blanchard Education, LLC and conversion of all outstanding classes of preferred stock into common stock.
 
Pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share represents the amount of total tangible assets reduced by our total liabilities, divided by the number of shares of common stock outstanding after giving effect to the issuance of 200 shares of common stock to Blanchard Education, LLC, the conversion of all outstanding classes of preferred stock into common stock, the repurchase of our outstanding warrant, the payment of the estimated amount of the special distribution to certain of our existing stockholders and the sale of      shares of common stock in the offering at an initial public offering price of $          , the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus. Our pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value as of December 31, 2007 would have been $      million, or $      per share. This represents an immediate decrease in net tangible book value of $      per share to existing stockholders and an immediate dilution of $      per share to new investors purchasing shares in the offering. The following table illustrates this per share dilution:
 
                 
Assumed initial public offering price per share of common stock
          $        
                 
Pro forma net tangible book value per share of common stock as of December 31, 2007
  $                
Increase per share of common stock attributable to new investors
               
Decrease per share of common stock after payment of underwriting discounts and commission and estimated offering expenses by us
               
Decrease per share of common stock after repurchase of warrant
               
Decrease per share of common stock after payment of the special distribution to certain of our existing stockholders
          $  
                 
Pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share of common stock after this offering
               
Dilution per share of common stock to new investors
          $    
                 
 
Our pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value, and the dilution to new investors in the offering, will change from the amounts shown above if the underwriters’ over-allotment option is exercised.
 
A $1.00 increase or decrease in the assumed initial public offering price of $      per share would increase or decrease, as applicable, our as pro forma adjusted net tangible book value per share of common stock by $     , and increase or decrease, as applicable, the dilution per share of common stock to new investors by $     , assuming the number of shares offered by us, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, remains the same, after deducting the estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. Similarly, any increase or decrease in the number of shares that we sell in the offering will increase or decrease our net proceeds in proportion to such increase or decrease, as applicable, multiplied by the offering price per share, less underwriting discounts and commissions and offering expenses.


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The following table sets forth, as of December 31, 2007, on the pro forma as-adjusted basis described above, the differences between existing stockholders and new investors with respect to the total number of shares of common stock purchased from us, the total consideration paid, and the average price per share paid before deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us, at an assumed initial public offering price of $      per share of common stock, which is the midpoint of the range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus:
 
                                         
                            Average
 
    Shares Purchased     Total Consideration     Price Per
 
    Number     Percent     Amount     Percent     Share  
    (Dollars in thousands)  
 
Existing stockholders
                          $                       $        
New investors
                                  $    
                                         
Total
                  $               $    
                                         
 
A $1.00 increase or decrease in the assumed initial public offering price of $      per share would increase or decrease, as applicable, total consideration paid by new investors, total consideration paid by all stockholders and average price per share paid by all stockholders by $      million, $      million and $      , respectively, assuming the number of shares offered by us, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, remains the same. Similarly, any increase or decrease in the number of shares that we sell in the offering will increase or decrease our net proceeds in proportion to such increase or decrease, as applicable, multiplied by the offering price per share, less underwriting discounts and commissions and offering expenses. This table does not give effect to the payment of the special distribution to existing stockholders.
 
If the underwriters’ over-allotment option is exercised in full, the number of shares held by existing stockholders after this offering would be , or     %, and the number of shares held by new investors would increase to          , or     %, of the total number of shares of our common stock outstanding after this offering.


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SELECTED FINANCIAL AND OTHER DATA
 
The following table sets forth selected financial and other data as of the dates and for the periods indicated. The selected statement of operations and other data, excluding period end enrollment, for the years ended December 31, 2005, 2006, and 2007, and the balance sheet data as of December 31, 2006 and 2007, have been derived from our audited financial statements, which are included elsewhere in this prospectus. The selected statement of operations and other data for the period from February 2, 2004 (date of inception) through December 31, 2004, and the selected balance sheet data as of December 31, 2004 and 2005 have been derived from our unaudited financial statements, which are not included in this prospectus. Our historical results are not necessarily indicative of our results for any future period.
 
You should read the following selected financial and other data in conjunction with “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this prospectus.
 
                                 
    February 2, 2004
                   
    to December 31,
    Year Ended December 31,  
    2004(1)     2005     2006     2007  
    (In thousands, except enrollment, share, and per share data)
 
    (unaudited)                    
 
Statement of Operations Data:
                               
Net revenue
  $ 25,629     $ 51,793     $ 72,111     $ 99,327  
Costs and expenses:
                               
Instructional costs and services
    19,705       26,959       29,920       36,852  
Selling and promotional
    9,735       13,758       19,355       33,480  
General and administrative
    10,828       12,424       15,326       18,385  
Royalty to former owner
    448       1,619       2,678       3,782  
                                 
Total costs and expenses
    40,716       54,760       67,279       92,499  
                                 
Operating income (loss)
    (15,087 )     (2,967 )     4,832       6,828  
Interest expense
    (1,135 )     (3,016 )     (2,909 )     (3,070 )
Interest income
    10       276       912       1,172  
                                 
Income (loss) before income taxes
    (16,212 )     (5,707 )     2,835       4,930  
Income tax expense (benefit)(2)
          (1,894 )     1,184       1,939  
                                 
Net income (loss)
    (16,211 )     (3,813 )     1,651       2,991  
Preferred dividends
                (527 )     (349 )
                                 
Net income available (loss attributable) to common stockholders
  $ (16,211 )   $ (3,813 )   $ 1,124     $ 2,642  
                                 
Earnings (loss) per common share
                               
Basic
    N/A     $ (377 )   $ 109     $ 255  
Diluted
    N/A     $ (377 )   $ 82     $ 159  
Shares used in computing earnings (loss) per common share
                               
Basic
    N/A       10,115       10,325       10,342  
Diluted
    N/A       10,115       20,107       18,860  
Other Data:
                               
Net cash provided by (used in) operating activities
  $ (6,552 )   $ (6,972 )   $ 6,800     $ 7,107  
Capital expenditures
  $ 24,376     $ 817     $ 2,387     $ 7,410  
Depreciation and amortization
  $ 1,136     $ 1,879     $ 2,396     $ 3,269  
Adjusted EBITDA(3)
  $ (13,503 )   $ 1,042     $ 10,864     $ 14,175  
Period end enrollment:
                               
Online
    3,141       6,212       8,406       12,497  
Ground
    1,852       2,210       2,256       2,257  


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    As of December 31,  
    2004     2005     2006     2007  
    (In thousands)  
    (unaudited)     (unaudited)              
 
Balance Sheet Data:
                               
Cash and cash equivalents
  $ 3,476     $ 2,579     $ 14,361     $ 23,210  
Total assets
    30,892       52,813       62,477       91,163  
Capital lease obligations
    24,055       24,056       29,728       29,228  
Other indebtedness (including short-term indebtedness)
    4,295       2,193       2,462       8,408  
Preferred stock
          25,590       21,390       31,948  
Total stockholders’/members’ deficit(2)
  $ (7,645 )   $ (11,638 )   $ (10,479 )   $ (7,792 )
 
 
(1) On February 2, 2004, we acquired the assets of Grand Canyon University from a non-profit foundation and converted its operations from non-profit to for-profit status. While the university has continuously operated since 1949, for accounting and financial statement reporting purposes, we treat the date of acquisition and conversion to for-profit status as the date of inception of our business.
 
(2) On August 24, 2005, we converted from a limited liability company to a taxable corporation. For all periods subsequent to such date, we have been subject to corporate-level U.S. federal and state income taxes.
 
(3) Adjusted EBITDA is defined as net income (loss) plus interest expense net of interest income, plus income tax expense (benefit), and plus depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), as adjusted for (i) royalty payments incurred pursuant to an agreement with our former owner that has been terminated as of April 15, 2008, as discussed in “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Factors affecting comparability — Settlement with former owner” and Note 2 to our financial statements included with this prospectus and (ii) management fees that are no longer paid or that will no longer be payable following completion of this offering.
 
We present Adjusted EBITDA because we consider it to be an important supplemental measure of our operating performance. We also make certain compensation decisions based, in part, on our operating performance, as measured by Adjusted EBITDA. See “Compensation Discussion and Analysis — Impact of Performance on Compensation.” All of the adjustments made in our calculation of Adjusted EBITDA are adjustments to items that management does not consider to be reflective of our core operating performance. Management considers our core operating performance to be that which can be affected by our managers in any particular period through their management of the resources that affect our underlying revenue and profit generating operations during that period. Management fees and royalty expenses that became payable in connection with our acquisition of Grand Canyon University, and subsequent financing transactions, are not considered reflective of our core operating performance.
 
Our management uses Adjusted EBITDA:
 
  •  in developing our internal budgets and strategic plan;
 
  •  as a measurement of operating performance;
 
  •  as a factor in evaluating the performance of our management for compensation purposes; and
 
  •  in presentations to the members of our board of directors to enable our board to have the same measurement basis of operating performance as are used by management to compare our current operating results with corresponding prior periods and with the results of other companies in our industry.
 
However, Adjusted EBITDA is not a recognized measurement under GAAP, and when analyzing our operating performance, investors should use Adjusted EBITDA in addition to, and not as an alternative for, net income, operating income, or any other performance measure presented in accordance with GAAP,


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or as an alternative to cash flow from operating activities or as a measure of our liquidity. Because not all companies use identical calculations, our presentation of Adjusted EBITDA may not be comparable to similarly titled measures of other companies. Adjusted EBITDA has limitations as an analytical tool, as discussed under “Management’s Discussion and Analysis — Non-GAAP Discussion.”
 
The following table presents data relating to Adjusted EBITDA, which is a non-GAAP measure, for the periods indicated:
 
                         
    Year Ended December 31,  
    2005     2006     2007  
    (In thousands)  
 
Net income (loss)
  $ (3,813 )   $ 1,651     $ 2,991  
Plus: interest expense net of interest income
    2,740       1,997       1,898  
Plus: income tax expense (benefit)
    (1,894 )     1,184       1,939  
Plus: depreciation and amortization
    1,879       2,396       3,269  
                         
EBITDA
    (1,088 )     7,228       10,097  
Plus: royalty to former owner(a)
    1,619       2,678       3,782  
Plus: management fees(b)
    511       958       296  
                         
Adjusted EBITDA
  $ 1,042     $ 10,864     $ 14,175  
                         
 
 
  (a)   Reflects the royalty fee arrangement with the former owner of Grand Canyon University in which we agreed to pay a stated percentage of cash revenue generated by our online programs. As a result of the settlement of a dispute with the former owner, we are no longer obligated to pay this royalty, although the settlement includes a prepayment of future royalties that will be amortized in 2008 and future periods. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Factors affecting comparability — Settlement with former owner” and Note 2 to our financial statements included with this prospectus.
 
  (b)   Reflects management fees of $0.1 million, $0.3 million, and $0.3 million for the years ended December 31, 2005, 2006, and 2007, respectively, to the general partner of Endeavour Capital, and an aggregate of $0.4 million and $0.7 million for the years ended December 31, 2005 and 2006, respectively, to an entity affiliated with a former director and another affiliated with a significant stockholder, in each case following their investment in us. The agreements relating to these arrangements have all terminated or will terminate by their terms upon the closing of this offering. See “Certain Relationships and Related Transactions.”


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MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS
OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
 
The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with our financial statements and related notes that appear elsewhere in this prospectus. In addition to historical financial information, the following discussion contains forward-looking statements that reflect our plans, estimates and beliefs. Our actual results could differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to these differences include those discussed below and elsewhere in this prospectus, particularly in “Risk Factors” and “Forward-Looking Statements.”
 
Overview
 
We are a leading, regionally accredited provider of online postsecondary education services focused on offering graduate and undergraduate degree programs in our core disciplines of education, business, and healthcare. In addition to our online programs, we offer ground programs at our traditional campus in Phoenix, Arizona and onsite at the facilities of employers. At the end of 2007, we had approximately 14,750 students, 85% of whom were enrolled in our online programs, with 62% pursuing master’s degrees. Since we acquired Grand Canyon University in February 2004, we have enhanced our senior management team, expanded our online platform, increased our program offerings, and initiated a marketing and branding effort to further differentiate us in the markets in which we operate. We have also made investments to enhance our student and technology support services. We believe the changes we have instituted, combined with our management expertise, provide a platform that will support continued enrollment and revenue growth.
 
In 2003, the Board of Trustees of the former owner initiated a process to evaluate alternatives as a result of the school’s poor financial condition and, in February 2004, several of our current stockholders acquired the assets of the school and converted it to a for-profit institution. In May 2005, following this change in control, the Department of Education recertified us to continue participating in the Title IV programs on a provisional basis, subject to certain restrictions and requirements, including requirements to post a letter of credit, accept restrictions on the growth of our program offerings and enrollment, and receive Title IV funds under the heightened cash monitoring system of payment (pursuant to which an institution is required to credit students with Title IV funds prior to obtaining those funds from the Department of Education). In October 2006, based on our significantly improved financial condition and performance since the change in control, the Department of Education eliminated the letter of credit requirement and allowed the growth restrictions to expire. In 2007, the Department of Education eliminated the heightened cash monitoring restrictions and returned us to the advance payment method (pursuant to which an institution receives Title IV funds from the Department of Education in advance of disbursement to students).
 
Key financial metrics
 
Net Revenue
 
Net revenue consists principally of tuition, room and board charges attributable to students residing on our ground campus, application and graduation fees, and commissions we earn from bookstore and publication sales, less scholarships. Factors affecting our net revenue include: (i) the number of students who are enrolled and who remain enrolled in our courses; (ii) the number of credit hours per student; (iii) our degree and program mix; (iv) changes in our tuition rates; (v) the amount of the scholarships that we offer; (vi) the number of students housed in, and the rent charged for, our on-campus student apartments and dormitories, and (vii) the number of students who purchase books from our bookstore.
 
We define enrollments for a particular time period as the number of students registered in a course on the last day of classes for each program within that financial reporting period. We offer three 16-week semesters in a calendar year, with two starts available per semester for our online students and for students who typically take evening courses on-campus or onsite at the facilities of their employer, whom we refer to as professional studies ground students, and one start available per semester for our traditional ground students. Enrollments are a function of the number of continuing students at the beginning of each period and new enrollments during the period, which are offset by graduations, withdrawals, and inactive students during the period.


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Inactive students for a particular period include students who are not registered in a class and, therefore, are not generating net revenue for that period, but who have not withdrawn from Grand Canyon University.
 
We believe that the principal factors that affect our enrollments and net revenue are the number and breadth of the programs we offer; the attractiveness of our program offerings and learning experience, particularly for career-oriented adults who are seeking pay increases or job opportunities that are directly tied to higher educational attainment; the effectiveness of our marketing, recruiting and retention efforts, which is affected by the number and seniority of our enrollment counselors and other recruiting personnel; the quality of our academic programs and student services; the convenience and flexibility of our online delivery platform; the availability and cost of federal and other funding for student financial aid; the seasonality of our net revenue, which is enrollment driven and is typically lowest in our second fiscal quarter and highest in our fourth fiscal quarter; and general economic conditions, particularly as they might affect job prospects in our core disciplines.
 
The following is a summary of our student enrollment at December 31, 2005, 2006, and 2007 (which included less than 100 students pursuing non-degree certificates in each period) by degree type and by instructional delivery method:
 
                                                 
    2005     2006     2007  
    #     %     #     %     #     %  
 
Master’s degree
    6,204       73.7       7,812       73.3       9,156       62.1  
Bachelor’s degree
    2,218       26.3       2,850       26.7       5,598       37.9  
                                                 
Total
    8,422       100.0       10,662       100.0       14,754       100.0  
                                                 
 
                                                 
    2005     2006     2007  
    #     %     #     %     #     %  
 
Online
    6,212       73.8       8,406       78.8       12,497       84.7  
Ground*
    2,210       26.2       2,256       21.2       2,257       15.3  
                                                 
Total
    8,422       100.0       10,662       100.0       14,754       100.0  
                                                 
 
 
* Includes our traditional on-campus students, as well as our professional studies ground students.
 
For the 2008-09 academic year (the academic year that began in May 2008), our prices per credit hour are $395 for undergraduate online and professional studies courses, $420 for graduate online courses (other than graduate nursing), $510 for graduate online nursing courses, and $645 for undergraduate courses for ground students. The overall price of each course varies based upon the number of credit hours per course (with most courses representing three credit hours), the degree level of the program, and the discipline. In addition, we charge a fixed $7,740 “block tuition” for undergraduate ground students taking between 12 and 18 credit hours per semester, with an additional $645 per credit hour for credits in excess of 18. A traditional undergraduate degree typically requires a minimum of 120 credit hours. The minimum number of credit hours required for a master’s degree and overall cost for such a degree varies by program, although such programs typically require approximately 36 credit hours. We expect our new doctoral program in education, which is first being offered in the 2008-09 academic year, to cost $770 per credit hour and require approximately 60 credit hours.
 
Based on current tuition rates, tuition for a full program would equate to approximately $15,000 for an online master’s program, approximately $47,000 for a full four-year online bachelor’s program, and approximately $62,000 for a full four-year bachelor’s program taken on our ground campus. The tuition amounts referred to above assume no reductions for transfer credits or scholarships, which many of our students utilize to reduce their total program costs. The amount of tuition received from our students for a full program is reduced to the extent credits are transferred from other institutions. Additionally, tuition may also be reduced by scholarships. For the year ended December 31, 2007, we offered scholarships with a total value of approximately $10.3 million. For the year ended December 31, 2006, we offered scholarships with a total value of approximately $8.2 million.


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Tuition increases for students in our online and professional studies ground programs range from 5.0% to 5.3% for our 2008-09 academic year as compared to 2.6% to 4.2% in the prior academic year. Tuition increases have not historically been, and may not in the future be, consistent across our programs due to market conditions and differences in operating costs of individual programs. Tuition for our traditional ground programs increased 11.2% for our 2008-09 academic year, as compared to 16.0% for the prior academic year. The larger increases for our traditional ground programs generally reflect recovery from a significant decrease in ground tuition rates that we implemented shortly after the 2004 acquisition in an effort to stabilize enrollments and revenues.
 
We derive a majority of our net revenue from tuition financed by the Title IV programs. For the years ended December 31, 2006 and 2007, approximately 71.5% and 74.0%, respectively, of our revenue (calculated on a cash basis in accordance with Department of Education standards) were derived from the Title IV programs. Our students also rely on scholarships, personal savings, private loans, and employer tuition reimbursements to pay a portion of their tuition and related expenses. During fiscal 2007, payments derived from private loans constituted approximately 5.0% of our cash revenue. Third party lenders independently determine whether a loan to a student is classified as subprime, and, based on these determinations, payments derived from subprime loans constituted approximately 0.2% of our cash revenue. Our future revenues could be affected if and to the extent the Department of Education restricts our participation in the Title IV programs, as it did during the period between 2005 and 2007. Current conditions in the credit markets have adversely affected the environment surrounding access to and cost of student loans. The legislative and regulatory environment is also changing, and new federal legislation was recently enacted pursuant to which the Department of Education is authorized to buy Title IV loans and implement a “lender of last resort” program in certain circumstances. See “Risk Factors” and “Regulation — Regulation of Federal Student Financial Aid Programs.” We do not believe these market and regulatory conditions have adversely affected us to date, but we cannot predict whether the new legislation will improve access to Title IV funding or the impact of any of these developments on future performance.
 
Costs and Expenses
 
Instructional cost and services.  Instructional cost and services consist primarily of costs related to the administration and delivery of our educational programs. This expense category includes salaries and benefits for full-time and adjunct faculty and administrative personnel, costs associated with online faculty (whom we treat as independent contractors in accordance with industry practice), information technology costs, curriculum and new program development costs, and costs associated with other support groups that provide service directly to the students. This category also includes an allocation of depreciation, amortization, rent, and occupancy costs attributable to the provision of educational services. Classroom facilities are leased or, in some cases, are provided by the students’ employers at no charge to us. We do not expect to make substantial investments in our campus-based instructional costs and services, which include our facilities and our full-time and adjunct faculty, in the future as we expect the mix of our student population to continue to shift toward online students. Furthermore, we expect to leverage our established support functions over a larger enrollment and revenue base. As a result, we expect instructional costs and services to decline as a percentage of net revenue without compromising the quality of our programs.
 
Selling and promotional.  Selling and promotional expenses include salaries and benefits of personnel engaged in the marketing, recruitment, and retention of students, as well as advertising costs associated with purchasing leads, hosting events and seminars, and producing marketing materials. Our selling and promotional expenses are generally affected by the cost of advertising media and leads, the efficiency of our marketing and recruiting efforts, salaries, and benefits for our enrollment personnel, and expenditures on advertising initiatives for new and existing academic programs. This category also includes an allocation of depreciation, amortization, rent, and occupancy costs attributable to selling and promotional activities. Selling and promotional costs are expensed as incurred. In 2007, as a result of the removal of our growth restrictions in October 2006, we more than tripled the number of our enrollment counselors in an effort to increase our efforts to recruit and enroll prospective students. We also leased new enrollment centers in Arizona and Utah, and we intend to continue to increase the number of our enrollment counselors in these centers to increase


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enrollment and enhance student retention. We incur immediate expenses in connection with hiring new enrollment counselors while these individuals undergo training, and typically do not achieve full productivity or generate enrollments from these enrollment counselors until four to six months after their dates of hire.
 
Selling and promotional costs also include revenue share arrangements with related parties pursuant to which we pay a percentage of the net revenue that we actually receive from applicants recruited by those entities that matriculate at Grand Canyon University. The related party bears all costs associated with the recruitment of these applicants. For the years ended December 31, 2005, 2006, and 2007, we paid approximately $2.8 million, $3.7 million, and $4.3 million, respectively, pursuant to these arrangements. As we increase our internal recruiting, marketing, and enrollment staff, we expect this revenue share as a proportion of total revenue to decline.
 
General and administrative.  General and administrative expenses include salaries and benefits of employees engaged in corporate management, finance, human resources, facilities, compliance, and other corporate functions. General and administrative expenses also include bad debt expense and an allocation of depreciation, amortization, rent and occupancy costs attributable to general and administrative functions.
 
Royalty to former owner.  In connection with our February 2004 acquisition of the assets of Grand Canyon University by several of our current stockholders, we entered into a royalty fee arrangement with the former owner in which we agreed to pay a stated percentage of cash revenue generated by our online programs. For the years ended December 31, 2005, 2006, and 2007, we expensed $1.6 million, $2.7 million, and $3.8 million, respectively, in connection with this arrangement. This arrangement has been terminated, as discussed below.
 
Interest expense.  Interest expense consists primarily of interest charges on our capital lease obligations and on the outstanding balances of our notes payable and line of credit.
 
Factors affecting comparability
 
We have set forth below selected factors that we believe have had, or can be expected to have, a significant effect on the comparability of recent or future results of operations:
 
Conversion to corporate status.  On August 24, 2005, we converted from a Delaware limited liability company to a Delaware corporation pursuant to Section 265 of the DGCL. As a limited liability company, we were treated as a partnership for U.S. federal and state income tax purposes and, as such, we were not subject to taxation. For all periods subsequent to such date, we have been and will continue to be subject to corporate-level U.S. federal and state income taxes.
 
Public company expenses.  Upon consummation of our initial public offering, we will become a public company, and we intend to have our shares listed for trading on the Nasdaq Global Market. As a result, we will need to comply with laws, regulations, and requirements that we did not need to comply with as a private company, including certain provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, related SEC regulations, and the requirements of Nasdaq. Compliance with the requirements of being a public company will require us to increase our general and administrative expenses in order to pay our employees, legal counsel, and accountants to assist us in, among other things, external reporting, instituting and monitoring a more comprehensive compliance and board governance function, establishing and maintaining internal control over financial reporting in accordance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, and preparing and distributing periodic public reports in compliance with our obligations under the federal securities laws. In addition, being a public company will make it more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance. We estimate that incremental annual public company costs will be between $3.0 million and $4.0 million.
 
Settlement with former owner.  To resolve a dispute with our former owner arising from our acquisition of Grand Canyon University and subsequent lease of our campus, we entered into a standstill agreement in September 2007 pursuant to which we agreed with the former owner to stay all pending legal proceedings through April 15, 2008. In accordance with the terms of the standstill agreement, we made an initial non-refundable $3.0 million payment to the former owner in October 2007 and received an option to pay an additional $19.5 million to the former owner by April 15, 2008, which additional amount would serve


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as consideration for: (i) the satisfaction in full of all past and future royalties due to the former owner under the royalty agreement; (ii) the acquisition by us of a parcel of real estate owned by the former owner on our campus; (iii) the termination of a sublease agreement pursuant to which the former owner leased office space on our campus; (iv) the assumption by us of all future payment obligations in respect of certain gift annuities made to the school by donors prior to the acquisition; (v) the cancellation of a warrant we issued to the former owner in the lease transaction; and (vi) the satisfaction in full of a $1.25 million loan made by the former owner to us in the lease transaction (including all accrued and unpaid interest thereon).
 
On April 15, 2008, we exercised our option and paid the additional $19.5 million to the former owner. Most of the amounts payable to the former owner under the royalty arrangement in 2005, and all of the amounts payable in 2006 and 2007, were accrued and not paid due to the dispute. A portion of the settlement payments will be treated as a prepaid royalty asset that will be amortized over future periods and the amortization expense will differ from the historical royalty expense.
 
Management fees.  In connection with an August 2005 investment led by Endeavour Capital, we entered into a professional services agreement with Endeavour Capital’s general partner. Concurrent with the closing of this offering, the professional services agreement will terminate by its terms. For the years ended December 31, 2005, 2006, and 2007, we incurred $0.1 million, $0.3 million, and $0.3 million, respectively, in fees and expenses under this agreement. In addition, through December 31, 2006, we were party to two additional professional services agreements, one with an entity affiliated with a former director and another affiliated with a significant stockholder, both of which terminated in accordance with their respective terms in 2006. For the years ended December 31, 2005 and 2006, we paid an aggregate of $0.4 million and $0.7 million, respectively, under these agreements. See “Certain Relationships and Related Transactions” located elsewhere in this prospectus for additional information.
 
Stock-based compensation.  Prior to this offering, we have not granted or issued any stock-based compensation. Accordingly, we have not recognized any stock-based compensation expense. In connection with this offering, we intend to adopt and implement a stock incentive plan pursuant to which we will grant equity to our directors, officers, and employees. As a result, we expect to incur non-cash, stock-based compensation expenses in 2008 and future periods.
 
Internal Control Over Financial Reporting
 
Overview.  We have material weaknesses in internal control over financial reporting. In connection with the preparation of our 2005, 2006, and 2007 financial statements, we identified matters involving our internal control over financial reporting that constituted material weaknesses as defined under the standards of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and caused us to conclude that there was more than a remote likelihood that a material misstatement of our annual or interim financial statements would not be prevented or detected on a timely basis by our employees in the normal course of performing their assigned functions.
 
Material weaknesses.  In March 2008, in connection with the preparation of our 2005, 2006, and 2007 financial statements, we identified errors regarding our accounting for the following transactions:
 
  •  In connection with our formation in February 2004, an entity owned in part by our chief executive officer and our general counsel contributed certain intangible assets to us, and we improperly recorded these contributed assets at our estimate of their fair value value rather than at their carryover basis.
 
  •  In connection with our acquisition of Grand Canyon University from the former owner in February 2004, we improperly accounted for a perpetual royalty arrangement between us and the former owner as goodwill rather than as a current period expense. Later, in connection with a settlement agreement we entered into with the former owner in 2007 that provided for a termination of this royalty arrangement, we improperly accounted for a partial settlement payment as a current period expense rather than as a prepaid royalty subject to amortization.


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  •  In connection with our entry into a lease agreement for our ground campus and buildings in June 2004, we improperly accounted for the arrangement as an operating lease rather than accounting for certain components of the lease as a capital lease.
 
  •  In 2004 and 2005, we failed to properly capitalize the issuance of certain common stock and equity linked instruments to third parties.
 
We believe the control deficiencies related to these errors constitute material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting. The material weakness related to our lack of processes and controls that would ensure the proper recording of assets, expenses, leases, and equity instruments in accordance with GAAP. We have begun our remediation efforts, which have included instituting certain controls and conducting training of our accounting staff for purposes of enabling them to recognize and properly account for transactions of the type described above, and we believe that our actions in this regard have strengthened our internal controls over financial reporting. Although initiated, our plan to improve the effectiveness of our internal controls and processes is not complete. It will take some time to put in place all of the rigorous disclosure controls and procedures desired by our management and our board of directors. While we expect to complete this remediation process as quickly as possible, doing so depends on several factors beyond our control, including the hiring of additional qualified personnel and, as a result, we cannot at this time estimate how long it will take to complete our remediation efforts. Our management will be conducting a comprehensive review of our control environment and will revise and enhance our controls based on that review. We cannot assure you that the measures we have taken to date and plan to take will remediate the material weaknesses we have identified. Our current independent registered public accounting firm has not evaluated the measures we have taken or plan to take in order to address the material weaknesses described above.
 
Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates
 
The discussion of our financial condition and results of operations is based upon our financial statements, which have been prepared in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP. During the preparation of these financial statements, we are required to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets, liabilities, revenues, costs and expenses, and related disclosures. On an ongoing basis, we evaluate our estimates and assumptions, including those discussed below. We base our estimates on historical experience and on various other assumptions that we believe are reasonable under the circumstances. The results of our analysis form the basis for making assumptions about the carrying values of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. Actual results may differ from these estimates under different assumptions or conditions, and the impact of such differences may be material to our financial statements.
 
We believe that the following critical accounting policies involve our more significant judgments and estimates used in the preparation of our financial statements:
 
Revenue recognition.  Tuition revenue is recognized monthly over the applicable period of instruction. Deferred revenue and student deposits in any period represent the excess of tuition, fees, and other student payments received as compared to amounts recognized as revenue on the statement of operations and are reflected as current liabilities on our balance sheet. Our educational programs have starting and ending dates that differ from our fiscal quarters. Therefore, at the end of each fiscal quarter, a portion of our revenue from these programs is not yet earned in accordance with the SEC’s Staff Accounting Bulletin No. 104, Revenue Recognition in Financial Statements. If a student withdraws prior to the end of the third week of a semester, we refund all or a portion of tuition already paid pursuant to our refund policy, which generally results in a reduction in deferred revenue and student deposits.
 
Allowance for doubtful accounts.  Bad debt expense is recorded as a general and administrative expense. We record an allowance for doubtful accounts for estimated losses resulting from the inability, failure, or refusal of our students to make required payments. We determine the adequacy of our allowance for doubtful accounts based on an analysis of our aging of our accounts receivable and historical bad debt experience. We generally write off accounts receivable balances deemed uncollectible on a regular basis.


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However, we continue to reflect accounts receivable with offsetting allowances as long as management believes there is a reasonable possibility of collection. As a result, our allowance for doubtful accounts has increased on an annual basis as bad debt expense has exceeded amounts written off.
 
Long-Lived Assets.  We evaluate the recoverability of our long-lived assets for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of an asset may not be recoverable. Recoverability of assets to be held and used is measured by a comparison of the carrying amount of an asset to undiscounted future net cash flows expected to be generated by the assets. If such assets are considered to be impaired, the impairment to be recognized is measured by the amount by which the carrying amount of the assets exceeds the fair value of the assets.
 
Income taxes.  On August 24, 2005, we converted from a limited liability company to a corporation. For all periods subsequent to such date, we have been and will continue to be subject to corporate-level U.S. federal and state income taxes. We account for income taxes as prescribed by Statement of Financial Accounting Standards (“SFAS”) No. 109, Accounting for Income Taxes (“SFAS No. 109”). SFAS No. 109 prescribes the use of the asset and liability method to compute the differences between the tax basis of assets and liabilities and the related financial amounts using currently enacted tax laws. We have deferred tax assets, which are subject to periodic recoverability assessments. Valuation allowances are established, when necessary, to reduce deferred tax assets to the amount that more likely than not will be realized. Realization of the deferred tax assets is principally dependent upon achievement of projected future taxable income offset by deferred tax liabilities. We evaluate the realizability of the deferred tax assets annually. Since becoming a taxable corporation, we have not recorded any valuation allowances to date on our deferred income tax assets.
 
Results of Operations
 
The following table sets forth statements of operations data as a percentage of net revenue for each of the periods indicated:
 
                         
    Year Ended December 31,  
    2005     2006     2007  
 
Net revenue
    100.0 %     100.0 %     100.0 %
Operating expenses
                       
Instructional cost and services
    52.1       41.5       37.1  
Selling and promotional
    26.6       26.8       33.7  
General and administrative
    24.0       21.3       18.5  
Royalty to former owner
    3.1       3.7       3.8  
                         
Total operating expenses
    105.7       93.3       93.1  
                         
Operating income (loss)
    (5.7 )     6.7       6.9  
Interest expense
    (5.8 )     (4.0 )     (3.1 )
Interest income
    0.5       1.3       1.2  
                         
Income (loss) before income taxes
    (11.0 )     3.9       5.0  
Income tax expense (benefit)
    (3.7 )     1.6       2.0  
                         
Net income (loss)
    (7.4 )%     2.3 %     3.0 %
                         
 
Year Ended December 31, 2007 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2006
 
Net revenue.  Our net revenue for the year ended December 31, 2007 was $99.3 million, an increase of $27.2 million, or 37.7%, as compared to net revenue of $72.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2006. This increase was primarily due to increased enrollment and, to a lesser extent, increases in tuition rates, including a 2.6 to 4.2% tuition increase for students in our online programs that took effect in May 2007, partially offset by an increase in institutional scholarships. End-of-period enrollment increased 38.4% in 2007


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compared to 2006, as we were able to continue our growth and increase our recruitment, marketing, and enrollment operations following the elimination of the Department of Education’s growth restrictions in October 2006.
 
Instructional cost and services expenses.  Our instructional cost and services expenses for the year ended December 31, 2007 were $36.9 million, an increase of $6.9 million, or 23.2%, as compared to instructional cost and services expenses of $29.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2006. This increase was primarily due to increases in instructional compensation expense and student support services as a result of the increase in enrollments and the addition of certain academic support services, such as the establishment of our Office of Assessment and Institutional Research. Our instructional cost and services expenses as a percentage of net revenue decreased by 4.4% to 37.1% for the year ended December 31, 2007, as compared to 41.5% for the year ended December 31, 2006. This decrease was a result of the continued shift of our student population to online programs and our ability to leverage the relatively fixed cost structure of our campus-based facilities and ground faculty across an increasing revenue base.
 
Selling and promotional expenses.  Our selling and promotional expenses for the year ended December 31, 2007 were $33.5 million, an increase of $14.1 million, or 73.0%, as compared to selling and promotional expenses of $19.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2006. This increase was driven by a substantial expansion in our marketing efforts following the removal of our growth restrictions by the Department of Education, which resulted in an increase in recruitment, marketing, and enrollment staffing, the opening of new enrollment facilities in Arizona and Utah, and expenses related to our revenue sharing arrangement. Our selling and promotional expenses as a percentage of net revenue increased by 6.9% to 33.7% for the year ended December 31, 2007, from 26.8% for the year ended December 31, 2006. This increase occurred as a result of a significant increase in the number of our enrollment counselors to increase our efforts to enroll prospective students and also increased marketing and retention staffing. In this regard, we incur immediate expenses in connection with hiring new enrollment counselors while these individuals undergo training, and typically do not achieve full productivity or generate enrollments from these enrollment counselors until four to six months after their dates of hire.
 
General and administrative expenses.  Our general and administrative expenses for the year ended December 31, 2007 were $18.4 million, an increase of $3.1 million, or 20.0%, as compared to general and administrative expenses of $15.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2006. Bad debt expense increased to $3.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2007 from $2.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2006 as a result of a proportional increase in net revenue. The general and administrative expense increase was also attributable to expenditures made to continue to support the growth of our business. Our general and administrative expenses as a percentage of net revenue decreased by 2.8% to 18.5% for the year ended December 31, 2007, from 21.3% for the year ended December 31, 2006, as we benefited from leveraging our prior infrastructure investments over a larger enrollment and revenue base.
 
Royalty to former owner.  In connection with our royalty fee arrangement with the former owner related to online revenue, we incurred royalty expenses for the year ended December 31, 2007 of $3.8 million, an increase of $1.1 million, or 41.2%, as compared to royalty expenses incurred of $2.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2006. Our royalty expense as a percentage of net revenue remained relatively steady for the years ended December 31, 2007 and 2006, increasing to 3.8% from 3.7%.
 
Interest expense.  Interest expense for the year ended December 31, 2007 was $3.1 million, an increase of $0.2 million, or 5.5%, from $2.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2006 due to a higher average level of borrowings in 2007.
 
Interest income.  Interest income for the year ended December 31, 2007 was $1.2 million, an increase of $0.3 million, or 28.5%, from $0.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2006, as a result of increased levels of cash and cash equivalents, offset by slightly lower interest rates.
 
Income tax expense.  Income tax expense for the year ended December 31, 2007 was $1.9 million, an increase of $0.8 million, or 63.8%, from $1.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2006. This increase


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was primarily attributable to increased income before income taxes, partially offset by a slight decrease in our effective income tax rate to 39.3% from 41.8%.
 
Net income.  Our net income for the year ended December 31, 2007 was $3.0 million, an increase of $1.3 million, or 81.2%, as compared to net income of $1.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2006, due to the factors discussed above.
 
Year Ended December 31, 2006 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2005
 
Net revenue.  Our net revenue for the year ended December 31, 2006 was $72.1 million, an increase of $20.3 million, or 39.2%, as compared to net revenue of $51.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2005. This increase was primarily due to increased enrollment, increases in tuition rates, including a 8.3% to 12.5% tuition increase for students in our online programs that took effect in May 2006, and reduced levels of institutional scholarships. End-of-period enrollment increased 26.6% in 2006 compared to 2005, as a result of improved productivity in our recruitment, marketing, and enrollment operations and the launch of many of our ground programs in an online delivery format, as limited by the growth restrictions imposed by the Department of Education, which were eliminated in October 2006.
 
Instruction cost and services expenses.  Our instructional cost and services expenses for the year ended December 31, 2006 were $29.9 million, an increase of $2.9 million, or 11.0%, as compared to instructional cost and services expenses of $27.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2005. This increase was primarily due to increases in instructional compensation expense and student support services as a result of the increase in enrollments. Our instructional cost and services expenses as a percentage of net revenue decreased by 10.6% to 41.5% for the year ended December 31, 2006, as compared to 52.1% for the year ended December 31, 2005. This decrease in 2006 was a result of the continued shift of our student population to online programs, our ability to leverage the relatively fixed cost structure of our campus-based facilities and ground faculty across an increasing revenue base, and more efficient course scheduling and faculty utilization.
 
Selling and promotional expenses.  Our selling and promotional expenses for the year ended December 31, 2006 were $19.4 million, an increase of $5.6 million, or 40.7%, as compared to selling and promotional expenses of $13.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2005. As a percentage of net revenue, our selling and promotional expenses remained relatively steady for the years ended December 31, 2006 and 2005, increasing to 26.8% from 26.6%.
 
General and administrative expenses.  Our general and administrative expenses for the year ended December 31, 2006 were $15.3 million, an increase of $2.9 million, or 23.4%, as compared to general and administrative expenses of $12.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2005. Bad debt expense increased to $2.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2006 from $0.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2005 due to an increase in net revenue and management’s assessment of our rapidly growing student base and changes in payment trends. Our general and administrative expenses as a percentage of net revenue decreased by 2.7% to 21.3% for the year ended December 31, 2006, from 24.0% for the year ended December 31, 2005, as we benefited from leveraging our prior infrastructure investments over a larger enrollment and revenue base.
 
Royalty to former owner.  In connection with our royalty fee arrangement with our former owner, we incurred royalty expenses for the year ended December 31, 2006 of $2.7 million, an increase of $1.1 million, or 65.4%, as compared to royalty expenses incurred of $1.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2005. Our royalty expense as a percentage of net revenue increased by 0.6% to 3.7% for the year ended December 31, 2006, from 3.1% for the year ended December 31, 2005. These increases were attributable to the increase in our net revenue derived from our online programs, which grew at a faster rate than other revenue sources.
 
Interest expense.  Interest expense for the year ended December 31, 2006 was $2.9 million, a decrease of $0.1 million, or 3.5%, from $3.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2005. The decrease was primarily due to a lower average level of borrowings in 2006.


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Interest income.  Interest income for the year ended December 31, 2006 was $0.9 million, an increase of $0.6 million, from $0.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2005 as a result of increased levels of cash and cash equivalents earning interest.
 
Income tax expense (benefit).  Income tax expense for the year ended December 31, 2006 was $1.2 million, an increase of $3.1 million from income tax benefit of $1.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2005. This increase was primarily attributable to our net income before income taxes and a change in our effective income tax rate to 41.8% from 33.2%.
 
Net income (loss).  Our net income for the year ended December 31, 2006 was $1.7 million, an increase of $5.5 million as compared to net loss of $3.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2006 due to the factors discussed above.
 
Seasonality
 
Our net revenue and operating results normally fluctuate as a result of seasonal variations in our business, principally due to changes in enrollment. Student population varies as a result of new enrollments, graduations, and student attrition. A portion of our on-campus ground students do not attend courses during the summer months, which historically has impacted our second quarter and third quarter financial results. As we increase the relative proportion of our online students, we expect this summer effect to lessen. Partially offsetting this summer effect in the third quarter has been the sequential quarterly increase in enrollments that has occurred as a result of the traditional Fall school start. This increase in enrollments also has occurred in the first quarter, corresponding to calendar year matriculation. In addition, we typically experience higher net revenue in the fourth quarter due to its overlap with the semester encompassing the traditional Fall school start and in the first quarter due to its overlap with the first semester of the calendar year. A portion of our expenses do not vary proportionately with fluctuations in net revenue, resulting in higher operating income in the first and fourth quarters relative to other quarters. We expect quarterly fluctuations in operating results to continue as a result of these seasonal patterns.
 
Liquidity and Capital Resources
 
Liquidity.  We financed our operating activities and capital expenditures during the years ended December 31, 2005, 2006, and 2007 primarily through cash provided by operating activities and several private placements of securities. Our unrestricted cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities were $14.4 million and $23.2 million at December 31, 2006 and 2007, respectively.
 
During 2007, we entered into a line of credit arrangement with a bank for $6.0 million. As of December 31, 2007, the entire $6.0 million was drawn. We repaid this line in full in February 2008 and we terminated the facility in May 2008.
 
A significant portion of our net revenue is derived from tuition financed by the Title IV programs. Federal regulations dictate the timing of disbursements under the Title IV programs. Students must apply for new loans and grants each academic year, which starts July 1 for Title IV purposes. Loan funds are generally provided by lenders in multiple disbursements for each academic year. The disbursements are usually received by the start of the second week of the semester. These factors, together with the timing of our students beginning their programs, affect our operating cash flow. We believe we have a favorable working capital profile as these Title IV funds and a significant portion of other tuition and fees are typically received by the start of the second week of a semester and the revenue is recognized and the related expenses are incurred over the duration of the semester, which reduces the impact of the growth in our accounts receivables associated with our enrollment growth.
 
Based on our current level of operations and anticipated growth, we believe that our cash flow from operations and other sources of liquidity, including cash, and cash equivalents, will provide adequate funds for ongoing operations, planned capital expenditures and working capital requirements for the foreseeable future.
 
Operating Activities.  Net cash provided by operating activities for the year ended December 31, 2007 was $7.1 million. Our operating cash flows were affected by our dispute with our former owner; as previously


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discussed, during 2007 we accrued $3.8 million of royalties payable to our former owner and funded a $3.0 million deposit in connection with a preliminary settlement of that dispute with our former owner. Our tax payments exceeded our tax expense as our $5.0 million of income taxes paid represented a majority of our 2006 and 2007 tax obligations.
 
Net cash provided by operating activities for the year ended December 31, 2006 was $6.8 million. As previously discussed, we accrued $2.7 million of royalties payable to our former owner during fiscal year 2007. Our tax expense exceeded our income taxes paid as a significant portion of our income tax payable for fiscal year 2006 was paid in early 2007.
 
Net cash used in operating activities for the year ended December 31, 2005 was $7.0 million which was primarily driven by our net loss. During the period, we accrued $1.0 million of royalties payable to our former owner.
 
Investing Activities.  Net cash provided by (used in) investing activities was ($10.0) million, $6.7 million and ($7.6) million for the years ended December 31, 2005, 2006, and 2007, respectively. Our cash used in investing activities is primarily related to the purchase of property, plant, and equipment and leasehold improvements. In 2005, we purchased $9.2 million of investments related to a letter of credit required by the Department of Education and associated with our growth restrictions. This letter of credit was released in 2006, resulting in investment proceeds of $9.0 million. Capital expenditures were $0.8 million, $2.4 million and $7.4 million for the years ended December 31, 2005, 2006, and 2007, respectively. A majority of our historical capital expenditures are related to our ground campus in Phoenix, Arizona. Our online business does not require significant capital expenditures and we expect capital expenditures to represent a decreasing percentage of net revenue in the future. However, we will continue to invest in computer equipment and office furniture and fixtures to support our increasing employee headcounts.
 
Financing Activities.  Net cash provided by (used in) financing activities was $16.0 million, ($1.7) million, and $9.3 million for the years ended December 31, 2005, 2006, and 2007, respectively. During these periods, principal payments on notes payable and capital lease obligations were offset by private placements of securities by our stockholders and amounts drawn on our line of credit.
 
Contractual Obligations
 
The following table sets forth, as of December 31, 2007, the aggregate amounts of our significant contractual obligations and commitments with definitive payment terms due in each of the periods presented (in millions):
 
                                         
          Payments Due by Period  
          Less than
                More than
 
    Total     1 Year     1-3 Years     3-5 Years     5 Years  
 
Long term debt(1)
  $ 2.4     $ 0.6     $ 1.3     $ 0.5     $ 0.0  
Capital lease obligations(1)
    52.5       3.7       7.0       6.8       35.0  
Tenant improvement obligations(1)
    2.3             2.3              
Operating lease obligations(2)
    30.4       2.2       4.2       3.7       20.3  
                                         
Total contractual obligations
  $ 87.6     $ 6.5     $ 14.8     $ 11.0     $ 55.3  
                                         
 
 
(1) See Note 7 to our financial statements for a discussion of our long term debt and capital lease obligations.
 
(2) See Note 8 to our financial statements for a discussion of our operating lease obligations.
 
The foregoing obligations exclude potential royalty payments to Blanchard Education, LLC under our license agreement, the amounts of which are contingent on tuition revenue from certain of our business programs.


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Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements
 
We do not have any off-balance sheet arrangements that have or are reasonably likely to have a material current or future effect on our financial condition, changes in financial condition, revenues or expenses, results of operations, liquidity, capital expenditures, or capital resources.
 
Impact of Inflation
 
We believe that inflation has not had a material impact on our results of operations for the years ended December 31, 2005, 2006, or 2007. There can be no assurance that future inflation will not have an adverse impact on our operating results and financial condition.
 
Non-GAAP Discussion
 
In addition to our GAAP results, we use Adjusted EBITDA as a supplemental measure of our operating performance and as part of our compensation determinations. Adjusted EBITDA is not required by or presented in accordance with GAAP and should not be considered as an alternative to net income, operating income, or any other performance measure derived in accordance with GAAP, or as an alternative to cash flow from operating activities or as a measure of our liquidity.
 
Adjusted EBITDA is defined as net income (loss) plus interest expense net of interest income, plus income tax expense (benefit), and plus depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), as adjusted for (i) royalty payments incurred pursuant to an agreement with our former owner that has been terminated as of April 15, 2008, as discussed above and in Note 2 to our financial statements included with this prospectus and (ii) management fees that are no longer paid or that will no longer be payable following completion of this offering.
 
We present Adjusted EBITDA because we consider it to be an important supplemental measure of our operating performance. We also make certain compensation decisions based, in part, on our operating performance, as measured by Adjusted EBITDA. See “Compensation Discussion and Analysis — Impact of Performance on Compensation.” All of the adjustments made in our calculation of Adjusted EBITDA are adjustments to items that management does not consider to be reflective of our core operating performance. Management considers our core operating performance to be that which can be affected by our managers in any particular period through their management of the resources that affect our underlying revenue and profit generating operations during that period. Management fees and royalty expenses that became payable in connection with our acquisition of Grand Canyon University, and subsequent financing transactions, are not considered reflective of our core performance. We believe Adjusted EBITDA allows us to compare our current operating results with corresponding historical periods and with the operational performance of other companies in our industry because it does not give effect to potential differences caused by variations in capital structures (affecting relative interest expense, including the impact of write-offs of deferred financing costs when companies refinance their indebtedness), tax positions (such as the impact on periods or companies of changes in effective tax rates or net operating losses), the book amortization of intangibles (affecting relative amortization expense), and other items that we do not consider reflective of underlying operating performance. We also present Adjusted EBITDA because we believe it is frequently used by securities analysts, investors, and other interested parties as a measure of performance.
 
In evaluating Adjusted EBITDA, you should be aware that in the future we may incur expenses similar to the adjustments described above. Our presentation of Adjusted EBITDA should not be construed as an inference that our future results will be unaffected by expenses that are unusual, non-routine, or non-recurring. Adjusted EBITDA has limitations as an analytical tool, and you should not consider it in isolation, or as a substitute for analysis of our results as reported under GAAP. Some of these limitations are that it does reflect:
 
  •  cash expenditures for capital expenditures or contractual commitments;
 
  •  changes in, or cash requirements for, our working capital requirements;


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  •  interest expense, or the cash requirements necessary to service interest or principal payments on our indebtedness;
 
  •  the cost or cash required to replace assets that are being depreciated or amortized; and
 
  •  the impact on our reported results of earnings or charges resulting from (i) royalties to our prior owner, including amortization of royalties prepaid in connection with our settlement, or (ii) management fees that were payable until completion of this offering.
 
In addition, other companies, including other companies in our industry, may calculate these measures differently than we do, limiting the usefulness of Adjusted EBITDA as a comparative measure. Because of these limitations, Adjusted EBITDA should not be considered as a substitute for net income, operating income, or any other performance measure derived in accordance with GAAP, or as an alternative to cash flow from operating activities or as a measure of our liquidity. We compensate for these limitations by relying primarily on our GAAP results and using Adjusted EBITDA only supplementally. For more information, see our financial statements and the notes to those statements included elsewhere in this prospectus.
 
The following table presents data relating to Adjusted EBITDA, which is a non-GAAP measure, for the periods indicated:
 
                         
    Year Ended December 31,  
    2005     2006     2007  
    (In thousands)  
 
Net income (loss)
  $ (3,813 )   $ 1,651     $ 2,991  
Plus: interest expense net of interest income
    2,740       1,997       1,898  
Plus: income tax expense (benefit)
    (1,894 )     1,184       1,939  
Plus: depreciation and amortization
    1,879       2,396       3,269  
                         
EBITDA
    (1,088 )   $ 7,228       10,097  
Plus: royalty to former owner(a)
    1,619       2,678       3,782  
Plus: management fees(b)
    511       958       296  
                         
Adjusted EBITDA
  $ 1,042     $ 10,864     $ 14,175  
                         
 
 
(a) Reflects the royalty fee arrangement with the former owner of Grand Canyon University in which we agreed to pay a stated percentage of cash revenue generated by our online programs. As a result of the settlement of a dispute with the former owner, we are no longer obligated to pay this royalty, although the settlement includes a prepayment of future royalties that will be amortized in 2008 and future periods.
 
See Note 2 to our financial statements included with this prospectus.
 
(b) Reflects management fees of $0.1 million, $0.3 million, and $0.3 million for the years ended December 31, 2005, 2006, and 2007, respectively, to the general partner of Endeavour Capital, and an aggregate of $0.4 million and $0.7 million for the years ended December 31, 2005 and 2006, respectively, to an entity affiliated with a former director and another affiliated with a significant stockholder following their investment in us. The agreements relating to these arrangements have all terminated or will terminate by their terms upon the closing of this offering. See “Certain Relationships and Related Transactions.”
 
Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosure About Risk
 
Market risk.  We have no derivative financial instruments or derivative commodity instruments. We invest cash in excess of current operating requirements in short term certificates of deposit and money market instruments.
 
Interest rate risk.  We manage interest rate risk by investing excess funds in cash equivalents and marketable securities bearing variable interest rates, which are tied to various market indices. Our future investment income may fall short of expectations due to changes in interest rates or we may suffer losses in principal if we are forced to sell securities that have declined in market value due to changes in interest rates. At December 31, 2007, a 10% increase or decrease in interest rates would not have a material impact on our


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future earnings, fair values, or cash flows. All of our notes payable and capital lease obligations are fixed rate instruments and are not subject to fluctuations in interest rates.
 
Recent Accounting Pronouncements
 
In June 2006, the FASB issued FASB Interpretation No. 48, Accounting for Uncertainty in Income Taxes — an Interpretation of FASB Statement No. 109 (“FIN 48”). This interpretation, among other things, creates a two step approach for evaluating uncertain tax positions. Recognition (step one) occurs when an enterprise concludes that a tax position, based solely on its technical merits, is more-likely-than-not to be sustained upon examination. Measurement (step two) determines the amount of benefit that more-likely-than-not will be realized upon settlement. Derecognition of a tax position that was previously recognized would occur when a company subsequently determines that a tax position no longer meets the more-likely-than-not threshold of being sustained. FIN 48 specifically prohibits the use of a valuation allowance as a substitute for derecognition of tax positions, and it has expanded disclosures. We adopted FIN 48 on January 1, 2008, and we do not expect adoption to have a material impact on our financial statements.
 
In September 2006, the FASB issued SFAS No. 157, Fair Value Measurements (“SFAS No. 157”) which provides enhanced guidance for using fair value to measure assets and liabilities. SFAS No. 157 establishes a common definition of fair value, provides a framework for measuring fair value under GAAP and expands disclosure requirements about fair value measurements. SFAS No. 157 is effective for financial statements issued in fiscal years beginning after November 15, 2007, and interim periods within those fiscal years. We do not believe that the adoption of SFAS No. 157 will have a material impact on our financial position or results of operations.
 
In February 2007, the FASB issued SFAS No. 159, The Fair Value Option for Financial Assets and Financial Liabilities Including an Amendment of FASB Statement No. 115 (“SFAS No. 159”). This standard permits entities to choose to measure financial instruments and certain other items at fair value and is effective for the first fiscal year beginning after November 15, 2007. SFAS No. 159 must be applied prospectively, and the effect of the first re-measurement to fair value, if any, should be reported as a cumulative - effect adjustment to the opening balance of retained earnings. The adoption of SFAS No. 159 is not expected to have a material impact on our financial position or results of operations.


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BUSINESS
 
Overview
 
We are a leading, regionally accredited provider of online postsecondary education services focused on offering graduate and undergraduate degree programs in our core disciplines of education, business, and healthcare. In addition to our online programs, we offer ground programs at our traditional campus in Phoenix, Arizona and onsite at the facilities of employers. We are committed to providing an academically rigorous educational experience with a focus on career-oriented programs that meet the objectives of working adults. We utilize an integrated, innovative approach to marketing, recruiting, and retaining students, which has enabled us to increase enrollment from approximately 3,000 students at the end of 2003 to approximately 14,750 students at the end of 2007, representing a compound annual growth rate of approximately 49%. At the end of 2007, 85% of our students were enrolled in our online programs and 62% of our students were pursuing master’s degrees.
 
Our three core disciplines of education, business, and healthcare represent large markets with attractive employment opportunities. According to the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, or NCES, these disciplines ranked as three of the four most popular fields of postsecondary education, based on degrees conferred in the 2005-06 school year. The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, has estimated that these fields comprised over 40 million jobs in 2006, many of which require postsecondary education credentials. Furthermore, the BLS has projected that the education, business, and healthcare fields will generate approximately six million new jobs between 2006 and 2016.
 
We primarily focus on recruiting and educating working adults, whom we define as students age 25 or older who are pursuing a degree while employed. As of December 31, 2007, approximately 93% of our online students were age 25 or older. We believe that working adults are attracted to the convenience and flexibility of our online programs because they can study and interact with faculty and classmates during times that suit their schedules. We also believe that working adults represent an attractive student population because they are better able to finance their education, more readily recognize the benefits of a postsecondary degree, and have higher persistence and completion rates than students generally.
 
We have experienced significant growth in enrollment, net revenue, and operating income over the last several years. Our enrollment at the end of 2007 was approximately 14,750, representing a 38.4% increase over the prior year. Our net revenue and operating income for the year ended December 31, 2007 were $99.3 million and $6.8 million, respectively, representing increases of 37.7% and 41.3%, respectively, over the prior year. We believe our growth is the result of a combination of factors, including our:
 
  •  focus on our core disciplines of education, business, and healthcare;
 
  •  convenient and flexible online delivery platform targeted at working adults;
 
  •  innovative marketing, recruitment, and retention approach; and
 
  •  expanding portfolio of academically rigorous, career-oriented program offerings.
 
We seek to achieve continued growth in a manner that reinforces our reputation for providing academically rigorous, career-oriented educational programs that advance the careers of our students. As part of our efforts to ensure that our students graduate with the knowledge, competencies, and skills that will enable them to succeed following graduation, we have established an Office of Assessment and Institutional Research to monitor student and faculty performance and improve student satisfaction.
 
We have been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and its predecessor since 1968, and we were reaccredited in 2007 for the maximum term of ten years. We are regulated by the Department of Education as a result of our participation in the federal student financial aid programs authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act, and, at the state level, we are licensed to operate and offer our programs by the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education. In addition, we have specialized accreditations for certain programs from the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, and the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education. We


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believe that our institution-wide state authorization and regional accreditation, together with these specialized accreditations, reflect the quality of our programs, enhance their marketability, and improve the employability of our graduates.
 
History
 
Grand Canyon College was founded in Prescott, Arizona in 1949 as a traditional, private, non-profit college and moved to its existing campus in Phoenix, Arizona in 1951. Established as a Baptist-affiliated institution with a strong emphasis on religious studies, the school initially focused on offering bachelor’s degree programs in education. Over the years, the school expanded its curricula to include programs in the sciences, nursing, business, music, and arts. The college obtained regional accreditation in 1968 from the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the predecessor to the Higher Learning Commission, and began offering nursing programs in the 1970s and master’s degree programs in education and business in the 1980s. In 1989, it achieved university status and became Grand Canyon University. The university introduced its first distance learning programs in 1997, and launched its first online programs in 2003 in business and education. In early 2000, it discontinued its Baptist affiliation and became a non-denominational Christian university.
 
In late 2003, the school’s Board of Trustees initiated a process to evaluate alternatives as a result of the school’s poor financial condition and, in February 2004, several of our current stockholders acquired the assets of the school and converted its operations to a for-profit institution. In May 2005, following this change in control, the Department of Education recertified us to continue participating in the Title IV programs on a provisional basis, subject to certain restrictions and requirements. In its review, the Department of Education concluded that we did not satisfy its standards of financial responsibility and identified other concerns about our administrative capability. As a result, the Department of Education required us to post a letter of credit, accept restrictions on the growth of our program offerings and enrollment, and receive Title IV funds under the heightened cash monitoring system. At this time, our lead institutional investor, Endeavour Capital, invested in us and provided the capital to support the letter of credit requirement as well as other working capital needs. In October 2006, based on our significantly improved financial condition and performance, the Department of Education eliminated the letter of credit requirement and allowed the growth restrictions to expire. In 2007, the Department of Education eliminated the heightened cash monitoring restrictions and returned us to the advance payment method.
 
Since February 2004, we have enhanced our senior management team, expanded our online platform, increased our program offerings, and initiated a marketing and branding effort to further differentiate us in the markets in which we operate. We have also made investments to enhance our student and technology support services. We believe these investments, combined with our management expertise, provide a platform that will support continued enrollment and revenue growth. Many of our ground programs continue to include Christian study requirements. While our online programs do not have such requirements, many include ethics requirements and offer religious courses as electives.
 
Industry
 
Postsecondary education.  The United States market for postsecondary education represents a large and growing opportunity. According to the NCES, total revenue for all degree-granting postsecondary institutions was over $385 billion for the 2004-05 school year. In addition, the number of students enrolled in postsecondary institutions was projected to be approximately 18.0 million in 2007 and the number was projected to grow to 18.8 million by 2010. We believe that future growth in this market will be driven, in part, by an increasing number of job openings in occupations that require bachelor’s or master’s degrees. The BLS has projected the number of such jobs to grow approximately 17% and 19%, respectively, between 2006 and 2016, or nearly double the growth rate the BLS projects for occupations that do not require postsecondary degrees. Moreover, individuals with a postsecondary degree are able to obtain a significant wage premium relative to individuals without a degree. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2006, the median income for individuals age 25 years or older with a bachelor’s or master’s degree was approximately 70% or 103% higher, respectively, than for a high school graduate of the same age with no college education.


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According to the NCES, as of 2007 71% of adults age 25 years or older did not possess a bachelor’s or higher degree. The NCES estimates that, as of 2005, adults age 25 years or older represented 39% of total U.S. postsecondary enrollments, or approximately 6.8 million students. We believe many of these students are pursuing a postsecondary degree while employed in order to increase their compensation or enhance their opportunities for career advancement, often with their current employer. We further believe that working adult students represent an attractive student population because they are better able to finance their education, more readily recognize the benefits of a postsecondary degree, and have higher persistence and completion rates than students generally. We expect that adults age 25 years or older will continue to represent a large and growing segment of the postsecondary education market.
 
Online postsecondary education.  The market for online postsecondary education is growing more rapidly than the overall postsecondary market. A 2007 study by Eduventures, LLC., an education consulting and research firm, projected that from 2002 to 2007 enrollment in online postsecondary programs increased from approximately 0.5 million to approximately 1.8 million, representing a compound annual growth rate of approximately 30.4%. In comparison, the NCES projected a compound annual growth rate of 1.6% in enrollment in postsecondary programs overall during the same period. We believe this growth has been driven by a number of factors, including the greater convenience and flexibility of online programs as compared to ground-based programs and the increased acceptance of online programs among academics and employers. According to a 2006 survey by the Sloan Consortium, a trade group focused on online education, 79.1% of chief academic officers surveyed at institutions with 15,000 or more students, most of which offer online programs, and 61.9% of all chief academic officers surveyed, believe that online learning outcomes are equal or superior to traditional face-to-face instruction.
 
Education, business, and healthcare.  The education, business, and healthcare sectors represent a large and growing market for postsecondary education. According to the NCES, these fields ranked as three of the four most popular fields of postsecondary education, based on degrees conferred in the 2005-06 school year. We believe the popularity of these fields is driven by the number and growth of employment opportunities. According to the BLS, in 2006 these three fields employed more than 40 million people in jobs that often require a postsecondary degree. Furthermore, the BLS has projected that these sectors will generate approximately six million incremental jobs between 2006 and 2016, not including job openings resulting from natural attrition. We believe there is a significant opportunity for education providers that focus on offering students a career-focused education in sectors of the workforce with strong job prospects, particularly where demand for employees is growing but supply is limited. In a 2007 report, the BLS stated that:
 
  •  Education services was the second largest industry in the United States and accounted for approximately 13 million jobs. Nearly half of these jobs were teaching positions that require at least a bachelor’s degree, and some required a master’s or doctoral degree. The BLS projected that job openings in the education services sector will grow by 1.4 million between 2006 and 2016 as a result of overall population growth and a nationwide focus on improving education and access to education.
 
  •  Management, business, and financial occupations comprised 15 million jobs across all industries. The BLS projected that job opportunities in this field will grow 10% between 2006 and 2016, adding a total of 1.6 million jobs during that period.
 
  •  Healthcare was the largest industry in the United States, accounting for approximately 14 million jobs and encompassing seven of the 20 fastest growing occupations. The BLS projected that employment growth in the healthcare sector will increase by 3.0 million jobs between 2006 and 2016 principally due to increased demand for healthcare services as a result of growth in the population in older age groups, rising life expectancy, and advances in medical technology.


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Competitive Strengths
 
We believe the following competitive strengths differentiate us from our competitors:
 
Established presence in targeted, high demand disciplines.  We have an established presence within our three core disciplines of education, business, and healthcare, which, according to the NCES, ranked as three of the four most popular fields of postsecondary education, based on degrees conferred in the 2005-06 school year. We offer our students career-oriented, academically rigorous educational programs, supported by specialized courses within their select disciplines, which enable them to advance their career prospects in these sectors. We seek to leverage our historical presence in these disciplines with key branding relationships, such as our relationship with business author and industry leader Ken Blanchard, to differentiate our reputation in the market place. We believe our focused approach enables us to develop our academic reputation and brand identity within our core disciplines, recruit and retain quality faculty and staff members, and meet the educational and career objectives of our students.
 
Focus on graduate degrees for working adults.  We have designed our program offerings and our online delivery platform to meet the needs of working adults, particularly those seeking graduate degrees to obtain pay increases or job promotions that are directly tied to higher educational attainment. We believe that working adults are attracted to the convenience and flexibility of our online delivery platform because they can study and interact with faculty and classmates during times that suit their schedules. We also believe that working adults represent an attractive student population because they are better able to finance their education, more readily recognize the benefits of a postsecondary degree, and have higher persistence and completion rates than students generally. At December 31, 2007, approximately 69% of our online students were enrolled in graduate degree programs.
 
Innovative marketing, recruiting, and retention strategy.  We have developed an integrated, innovative approach to student marketing, recruitment, and retention to reach our targeted students. We utilize Internet marketing, seminar and event-based marketing, referrals, and employer relationships to reach our targeted students. We provide our enrollment counselors, who serve as our primary contact with prospective students during the recruitment process, with career advancement opportunities that promote longevity and an entrepreneurial drive. We believe that our enrollment counselors help project a consistent message regarding our programs and increase the success rate of converting leads to new enrollments. Finally, we have implemented a detailed process for recruiting, enrolling, and retaining new students through which we proactively provide support to students at key points during their consideration of, and enrollment at, Grand Canyon University to enhance the probability of student enrollment and retention.
 
Commitment to offering academically rigorous, career-oriented programs.  We are committed to offering academically rigorous educational programs that are designed to help our students achieve their career objectives. Our programs are taught by qualified faculty, substantially all of whom hold at least a master’s degree and often have practical experience in their respective fields. We continually review and assess our programs and faculty to ensure that our programs provide the knowledge and skills that lead to successful student outcomes. We provide extensive student support services, including administrative, library, career, and technology support services, to help maximize the success of our students. Our Office of Assessment and Institutional Research manages our efforts to track student and faculty performance by monitoring student outcomes and developing transparent, measurable outcomes-based education programs.
 
Complementary online capabilities and campus-based tradition.  We believe that our online capabilities, combined with our nearly 60-year heritage as a traditional campus-based university, differentiate us in the for-profit postsecondary market and enhance the reputation of our degree programs among students and employers. Our online students benefit from our flexible, interactive online platform, which we believe offers a highly effective delivery medium for our programs, yet are enrolled in a university with a traditional campus, faculty, facilities, and athletic programs. We require our online faculty to undergo training in the delivery of online programs before teaching their initial course, while our full-time ground faculty help maintain the consistency and quality of our online programs by supervising and conducting peer reviews of our online faculty, and participating as subject matter experts in the development of our online curricula. Our campus also offers our ground students, faculty, and staff an opportunity to participate in a traditional college experience.


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Experienced management team with strong operating track-record.  Our management team possesses extensive experience in educational services businesses, specifically in the areas of marketing to, recruiting, and retaining students pursuing online and other distance education degree offerings. Our chief executive officer, Brent Richardson, and our chief operating officer, John Crowley, have each worked in the education services sector for more than 20 years and have extensive experience in content development and prospective student identification and recruitment. Dr. Kathy Player, our provost and chief academic officer, has been with Grand Canyon University for 10 years, has played a key role in developing our reputation for academic rigor and quality, and has been instrumental in developing our Office of Assessment and Institutional Research.
 
Growth Strategies
 
We intend to pursue the following growth strategies:
 
Increase enrollment in existing programs.  We continue to increase enrollment in our three core disciplines by identifying, enrolling, and retaining students seeking careers in the education, business, and healthcare fields. We believe, due to the depth of the market in our core disciplines, that our existing programs, some of which were only recently launched, provide ample opportunity for growth. Our three core disciplines serve markets that currently comprise over 40 million jobs, many of which require postsecondary education, and the BLS has projected that these sectors will continue to grow. In 2007, we increased the number of our enrollment counselors by 217 to increase our efforts to enroll prospective students in these fields. We intend to continue to increase the number of our enrollment counselors and our marketing personnel, and to provide these individuals with the training and resources necessary to effectively and efficiently drive enrollment growth and student retention.
 
Expand online program and degree offerings.  We develop and offer new programs that we believe have attractive demand characteristics. We launched 17 new online program offerings in 2007, including the Ken Blanchard Executive MBA program, and intend to launch a total of 12 new online programs in 2008. We recently received approval to launch our first doctoral degree program, a Doctorate of Education in Organizational Leadership. Our new program offerings typically build on existing programs and incorporate additional specialized courses, which offers our students the opportunity to pursue programs that address their specific educational objectives while allowing us to expand our program offerings with only modest incremental investment. We also seek to add new programs in additional targeted disciplines, such as our recently launched programs in psychology and digital media.
 
Further enhance our brand recognition.  We continue to enhance our brand recognition by pursuing online and offline marketing campaigns, establishing strategic branding relationships with recognized industry leaders, and developing complementary resources in our core disciplines that increase the overall awareness of our offerings. In our marketing efforts, we emphasize the academic rigor and career orientation of our programs. We seek to promote our brand by establishing relationships with industry leaders, such as Ken Blanchard, who have recognizable identities with potential students and further validate the quality and relevance of our program offerings.
 
Expand relationships with private sector and government employers.  We seek additional relationships with health care systems, school districts, emergency services providers, and other employers through which we can market our offerings to their employees. As evidence of our success in these initiatives to date, in 2007, we taught courses at 29 hospitals and had direct billing arrangements with 23 employers covering programs being pursued by over 1,000 of their employees. We recently established a national account sales team, consisting of professionals with significant sales and marketing experience, that seeks to develop strategic relationships on a regional, national, and international basis across a wide range of employers. These relationships provide leads for our programs, build our recognition among employers in our core disciplines, and enable us to identify new programs and degrees that are in demand by students and employers.
 
Leverage infrastructure and drive earnings growth.  We have made significant investments in our people, processes, and technology infrastructure since 2004. We believe these investments have prepared us to deliver our academic programs to a much larger student population with only modest incremental investment.


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Our current infrastructure is capable of supporting a significantly larger number of enrollment counselors, and we intend to expand this group in order to continue to drive enrollment growth. We implemented a new learning management system in 2007 to better serve the demands of our growing student population and have expanded our student and technology support capabilities to support a larger student base. We have also invested in administrative and management personnel and systems to prepare for our anticipated growth. We intend to leverage our historical investments as we increase our enrollment, which we believe will allow us to increase our operating margins over time.
 
Our Approach to Academic Quality
 
Some of the key elements that we focus on to promote a high level of academic quality include:
 
  •  Academically rigorous, career oriented curricula.  We create academically rigorous curricula that are designed to enable all students to gain the foundational knowledge, professional competencies, and demonstrable skills required to be successful in their chosen fields. Our curriculum is designed and delivered by faculty that are committed to delivering a high quality, rigorous education. We design our curricula to address specific career-oriented objectives that we believe working adult students in the disciplines we serve are seeking. Through this combination, we believe that we produce graduates that can compete and become leaders in their chosen fields.
 
  •  Qualified faculty.  We demonstrate our commitment to high quality education by hiring and contracting qualified faculty with relevant practical experience. Substantially all of our current faculty members hold at least a master’s degree in their respective field and approximately 30% of our faculty members hold a doctoral degree. Many of our faculty members are able to integrate relevant, practical experiences from their professional careers into the courses they teach. We invest in the professional development of our faculty members by providing training in ground and online teaching techniques, hosting events and discussion forums that foster sharing of best practices, and continually assessing teaching effectiveness through peer reviews and student evaluations.
 
  •  Standardized course design.  We employ a standardized curriculum development process to ensure a consistent learning experience with frequent faculty-student interaction in our courses. We thereafter continuously review our programs in an effort to ensure that they remain consistent, up-to-date, and effective in producing the desired learning outcomes. We also regularly review student surveys to identify opportunities for course modifications and upgrades.
 
  •  Effective student services.  We establish teams comprised of academic and administrative personnel that act as the primary support contact point for each of our students, beginning at the application stage and continuing through graduation. In recent years, we have also concentrated on improving the technology used to support student learning, including enhancing our online learning platform and further improving student services through the implementation of online interfaces. As a result, many of our support services, including academic, administrative, library, and career services, are accessible online, generally allowing users to access these services at a time and in a manner that is generally convenient to them.
 
  •  Continual academic oversight.  We have centralized the academic oversight and assessment functions for all of our programs through our Office of Assessment and Institutional Research, which continuously evaluates the academic content, delivery method, faculty performance, and desired learning outcomes for each of our programs. We continuously assess outcomes data to determine whether our students graduate with the knowledge, competencies, and skills that are necessary to succeed in the workplace. The Office and Assessment and Institutional Research also initiates and manages periodic examinations of our curricula by internal and external reviewers to evaluate and verify program quality and workplace applicability. Based on these processes and student feedback, we determine whether to modify or discontinue programs that do not meet our standards or market needs, or to create new programs. The Office and Assessment and Institutional Research also oversees regular reviews of our programs conducted by accrediting commissions.


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We also offer, for both our online and ground programs, the following features in an effort to enrich the academic experience of current and prospective students:
 
  •  Flexibility in program delivery.  We also seek to meet market demands by providing students with the flexibility to take courses exclusively online or to combine online coursework with various campus and onsite options. For example, based on market demand, particularly in connection with our nursing programs, we have established satellite locations at multiple hospitals that allow nursing students to take clinical courses onsite while completing other course work online. We have established similar onsite arrangements with other major employers, including schools and school districts through which students can pursue student teaching opportunities. This flexibility raises our profile among employers, encourages students to take and complete courses and eliminates inconveniences that tend to lessen student persistence.
 
  •  Small class size.  Over 90% of our online and ground classes had 25 or fewer students, with no classes exceeding 40 students. These class sizes provide each student with the opportunity to interact directly with course faculty and to receive individualized feedback and attention while also affording our faculty with the opportunity to engage proactively with a manageable number of students. We believe this interaction enhances the academic quality of our programs by promoting opportunities for students to participate actively and thus build the requisite knowledge, competencies, and skills.
 
Accreditation and Program Approvals
 
We believe that the quality of our academic programs is evidenced by the college- and program-specific accreditations and approvals that we have pursued and obtained. Grand Canyon University has been continually accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and its predecessor since 1968, obtaining its most recent ten-year reaccreditation in 2007. We are licensed in Arizona by the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education. In addition, we have obtained the following specialized accreditations and approvals for our core program offerings:
 
         
College
  Specialized Accreditations and Program Approvals  
Current Period
 
College of Education
 
•   The Arizona State Board of Education approves our College of Education to offer Institutional Recommendations for the certification of elementary, secondary, and special education teachers and school administrators.
  2006 - 2008*
Ken Blanchard College of Business
 
•   The Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs accredits our Master of Business Administration degree program and our Bachelor of Science degree programs in Accounting, Business Administration, and Marketing.
  2007 - 2017
College of Nursing and Health Sciences
 
•   The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education accredits our Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Nursing and Master of Science (M.S.) — Nursing degree programs.
  2006 - 2016 (B.S.)
2006 - 2011 (M.S.)
   
•   The Arizona State Board of Nursing approves our Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Nursing and Master of Science (M.S.) — Nursing degree programs.
  2006 - 2016 (B.S.)
2006 - 2011 (M.S.)
   
•   The Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education accredits our Athletic Training Program.
  2002 - 2008*
 
 
* We have had our site visits related to the renewal of this specialized accreditation or program approval and are not aware of any factors that could cause this specialized accreditation or program approval not to be renewed in the ordinary course.


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Our regional accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission, and our specialized accreditations and approvals for our core programs, reflect the quality of, and standards we set for, our programs, enhance their marketability, and improve the employability of our graduates.
 
Curricula
 
We offer the degrees of Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Education, Master of Business Administration, Master of Science, Bachelor of Arts, and Bachelor of Science and a variety of programs leading to each of these degrees. Many of our degree programs also offer the opportunity to obtain one or more emphases. We require students to take a minimum of three designated courses to achieve a given emphasis. We also offer certificate programs, which consist of a series of courses focused on a particular area of study, for students who seek to enhance their skills and knowledge. In addition, we recently were approved to offer our first doctoral program in education, which will begin in 2008.
 
We offer our academic programs through our four distinct colleges:
 
  •  the College of Education, which has a nearly 60-year history as one of Arizona’s leading teacher’s colleges and consistently graduates teachers who meet or exceed state averages on the Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessment exams;
 
  •  the Ken Blanchard College of Business, which has a well-known brand among our target student population, an advisory board that includes nationally recognized business leaders, and a reputation for offering career-oriented degree programs, including an Executive MBA and programs in leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurship;
 
  •  the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, which has a strong reputation within the Arizona healthcare community and is the second largest nursing program in Arizona; and
 
  •  the College of Liberal Arts, which develops and provides many of the general education course requirements in our other colleges and also serves as one of the vehicles through which we offer programs in additional targeted disciplines.


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Under the overall leadership of our provost and chief academic officer, our senior academic affairs personnel, and the deans of the individual colleges, each of the colleges organizes its academic programs through various departments and schools. At December 31, 2007, we offered 82 academic degree programs and emphases, as follows:
 
             
College of Education   Ken Blanchard College of Business
Degree Program   Emphasis   Degree Program   Emphasis
 
Master of Arts in Teaching
      Ken Blanchard Executive MBA    
             
Master of Education




















Bachelor of Science
 
•   Education Administration —
  Institutional Recommendation (“IR”)
•   Education Administration —
    Organizational     Leadership
•   Education Administration —
     School Leadership
•   Elementary Education — IR
•   Elementary Education —Non-IR
•   Curriculum and Instruction: Reading
•   Curriculum and Instruction: Technology
•   Secondary Education — IR
•   Secondary Education — Non-IR
•   Special Education for Certified Special Educators
•   Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
•   Special Education — IR
•   Special Education — Non-IR
•   School Counseling — K-12*

•   Elementary/Special Education*
•   Elementary Education — Early Childhood Education
•   Elementary Education —  English
•   Elementary Education —  Math
•   Elementary Education —  Science
•   Secondary Education —  Biology*
•   Secondary Education —  Business Education and  Technology
•   Secondary Education —  Chemistry*
•   Secondary Education — Mathematics
•   Secondary Education —  Social Studies
•   Secondary Education —  Physical Education
  Master of Business Administration





Master of Science




Bachelor of Science
 
•   General Management
•   Health Systems Management
•   Leadership
•   Management of Information Systems
•   Marketing
•   Six Sigma

•   Leadership
•   Leadership — Disaster Preparedness Crisis Management
•   Executive Fire Leadership

•   Accounting
•   Business Administration
•   Business Administration — Healthcare Management
•   Business Administration Management of— Information Systems Marketing
•   Applied Management•   Accounting
•   Finance
•   Entrepreneurial Studies
•   Public Safety Administration
             
Bachelor of Arts
 
•   English for Secondary Teachers*
       
 
 
* Indicates program was offered on ground only.


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College of Nursing and Health Sciences   College of Liberal Arts
Degree Program   Emphasis   Degree Program   Emphasis
 
Master of Science — Nursing







Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Bachelor of Science
 
•   Family Nurse Practitioner*
•   Nursing Leadership in Healthcare Systems
•   Clinical Nurse Specialist*
•   Clinical Nurse Specialist (Education Focus)*
•   Nursing Education



•   Biology — Basic Science*
•   Biology — Pre-Medicine*
•   Biology — Pre-Pharmacy*
•   Biology — Pre-Physician Assistant*
•   Biology — Pre-Physical Therapy*
•   Biology — Pre-Occupational Therapy*
•   Biology — Pre-Veterinary*
•   Health Science: Professional Development and Advanced Patient Care
•   Medical Imaging Sciences
•   Athletic Training*
•   Corporate Fitness and Wellness*
  Bachelor of Arts in History*

Bachelor of Science



Bachelor of Arts
 

•   Justice Studies*
•   Psychology
•   Sociology*

•   Communications — Digital Media*
•   Communications — Graphic Design*
•   Communications — Public Relations*
•   English Literature*
•   Interdisciplinary Studies — Communication
•   Christian Leadership
•   Intercultural Studies
•   Christian Studies — Biblical/Theological Studies
•   Christian Studies — Pastoral Ministry
•   Christian Studies — Worship Ministry
•   Christian Studies — Youth Ministry
•   Christian Leadership
   
•   Physical Education*
       
   
•   Recreation*
       
        Undergraduate Minors    
       
•   Athletic Coaching*
•   Behavioral Sciences*
•   Business
•   Critical Thinking and
Expression*
•   Exercise Science*
•   Family Studies
•   Health Education*
•   History*
  •   Justice Studies*
•   Physical Education*
•   Political Science*
•   Psychology*
•   Recreation*
•   Social Sciences*
•   Sociology*
•   Spanish*
 
 
* Indicates program was offered on ground only.
 
We have established relationships with health care systems, school districts, emergency services providers, and other employers through which we offer programs onsite to provide flexibility and convenience to students and their employers. For example, for our nursing programs, we offer clinical courses onsite at hospitals and other healthcare centers with which we have relationships, and also arrange to allow these students to complete their clinical work onsite. We refer to students attending a program with us through such relationships as professional studies ground students.
 
We offer our programs through three 16-week semesters in a calender year, with two starts available per semester for our online students and our professional studies ground students and one start available per semester for our traditional ground students. During each semester, classes may last for five, eight, or 16 weeks. Depending on the program, students generally enroll in one to three courses per semester. We require online students to complete two courses of three credits hours each during a 16-week semester, with each student concentrating on one course during each eight-week period. While there is no explicit requirement, we communicate to our online students our expectation that they access their online student classroom at least four times each week in order to maintain an active dialogue with their professors and classmates. Our online programs provide a digital record of student interactions for the course instructor to assess students’ levels of engagement and demonstration of required competencies.
 
New Program Development
 
We typically identify a potential new degree program or emphasis area through market demand or from proposals developed by faculty, staff, students, alumni, or partners, and then perform an analysis of the development cost and the long-term demand for the program. If, following this analysis, we decide to proceed


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with the program, our Curriculum Design and Development Team designates a subject matter expert who works with other faculty and our curriculum development personnel to design a program that is consistent with our academically rigorous, career-oriented program standards. The program is then reviewed by the dean of the applicable college, the Academic Affairs Committee, and our provost and chief academic officer and, finally, presented for approval to our Program Standards and Evaluation Committee. Upon approval, the subject matter expert develops a course syllabus and our Marketing Department creates a marketing plan to publicize the new program. Our average program development process is six months from proposal to course introduction. The development process is typically longer if we are expanding into a new field or offering a new type of degree.
 
Assessment
 
In 2007, we established our Office of Assessment and Institutional Research to serve as our central resource for assessing and continually improving our curricula, student satisfaction and learning outcomes, and overall institutional effectiveness. Among other things, the assessment team reviews student course satisfaction surveys, analyzes archived student assignments to assess whether a given program is developing students’ foundational knowledge, professional competencies, and skills to achieve the expected learning outcomes, supervises and analyzes faculty peer reviews, and monitors program enrollment and retention data. Based on this data and the conclusions of the assessment team, we modify programs as necessary to meet our student satisfaction and educational development standards and make recommendations as to adding or modifying programs.
 
Faculty
 
Our faculty includes full-time, ground-based faculty who teach under a nine-month or twelve-month teaching contract, as well as adjunct ground-based faculty and online faculty who we contract to teach on a course-by-course basis for a specified fee. As of December 31, 2007, we employed 370 ground-based faculty members, of which 54 were full-time and 316 were part-time adjuncts, and maintained a pool of over 1,000 online faculty members, all of whom had completed our required training and 735 of which taught at least one course during 2007. Substantially all of our current faculty members hold at least a master’s degree in their respective field and approximately 30% of our faculty members hold a doctoral degree. On occasion, we engage a limited number of faculty members who may not hold a graduate degree, but who evidence significant professional experience and achievement in their respective subject areas.
 
We establish full-time, adjunct and online positions based on program and course enrollment. As enrollment increases, we expect to continue to increase our online faculty pool. We manage faculty workload by limiting our faculty to a maximum of four courses per semester and by restricting the number of students per class.
 
We attract faculty through referrals by current faculty members and advertisements in education and trade association journals, as well as from direct inquiries through our website. We require each new online faculty member to complete an online orientation and training program that leads to certification and assignment. We believe that potential faculty members are attracted to us because of the opportunity to teach academically rigorous, career-oriented material to motivated working adult students.
 
We believe that the quality of our faculty is critical to our success, particularly because faculty members have more interaction with our students than any other university employee. Accordingly, we regularly review the performance of our faculty, including by engaging our full-time ground faculty and other specialists to conduct peer reviews of our online faculty, monitoring the amount of contact that faculty have with students in our online programs, reviewing student feedback, and evaluating the learning outcomes achieved by students. If we determine that a faculty member is not performing at the level that we require, we work with the faculty member to improve performance, including by assigning him or her a mentor or through other means. If the faculty member’s performance does not improve, we terminate the faculty member’s contract or employment.
 
Student Support Services
 
Encouraging students that enter Grand Canyon University to complete their degree programs is critical to the success of our business. We focus on developing and providing resources that support the student educational experience, simplify the student enrollment process, acclimate students to our programs and our


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online environment, and track student performance toward degree completion. Many of our support services, including academic, administrative, and library services, are accessible online and are available to our online and ground students, allowing users to access these services at a time and in a manner that is generally convenient to them. The student support services we provide include:
 
Academic services.  We provide students with a variety of services designed to support their academic studies. Our Center for Academic and Professional Success offers new student orientation, academic advising, technical support, research services, writing services, and other tutoring to all our online and campus students.
 
Administrative services.  We provide students with the ability to access a variety of administrative services both telephonically and via the Internet. For example, students can register for classes, apply for financial aid, pay their tuition and access their transcripts online. We believe this online accessibility provides the convenience and self-service capabilities that our students value. Our financial aid counselors provide personalized online and telephonic support to our students.
 
Library services.  We provide a mix of online and ground resources, services, and instruction to support the educational and research endeavors of all students, faculty, and staff, including ground and online libraries and a qualified library staff that is available to help faculty and students with research, teaching, and library resource instruction. Collectively, our library services satisfy the criteria established by the Higher Learning Commission and other accrediting and approving bodies for us to offer undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs.
 
Career services.  For those students seeking to change careers or explore new career opportunities, we offer career services support, including resume review and evaluation, career planning workshops, and access to career services specialists for advice and support. Other resources that we offer include a Job Readiness Program, which advises students on matters such as people skills, resumes and cover letters, mock interviews, and business etiquette; a job board, which advertises employment postings and career exploration opportunities; career counseling appointments and consultations; and career fairs.
 
Technology support services.  We provide online technical support 16 hours per day during the week and 14 hours per day on weekends to help our students remedy technology-related issues. We also provide online tutorials and “Frequently Asked Questions” for students who are new to online coursework.
 
Marketing, Recruitment, and Retention
 
Marketing.  We engage in a range of marketing activities designed to position us as a provider of academically rigorous, career-oriented educational programs, build strong brand recognition in our core disciplines, differentiate us from other educational providers, raise awareness among prospective students, generate enrollment inquiries, and stimulate student and alumni referrals. Our online target market includes working adults focused on program quality, convenience, and career advancement goals. Our ground target market includes traditional college students, working adults seeking a high quality education in a traditional college setting, and working adults seeking to take classes with a cohort onsite at their employer’s facility. In marketing our programs to prospective students, we emphasize the value of the educational experience and the academic rigor and career orientation of the programs, rather than the cost or speed to graduation. We believe this approach reinforces the qualities that we want associated with our brand and also attracts students who tend to be more persistent in starting and finishing their programs.
 
We have established dedicated teams, consisting of both marketing and enrollment personnel, at each of our colleges to lead our efforts to attract new students. We believe that these blended groups, organized around each core discipline, promote more effective internal communication within our sales and marketing functions, allow deeper penetration within our target markets due to each team’s singular focus on a core discipline, and enable us to gain a better understanding of the attributes of our students who ultimately enroll and graduate so that we can target our marketing and enrollment processes accordingly.


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To generate student leads, our marketing and enrollment personnel employ an integrated marketing approach that utilizes a variety of lead sources to identify prospective students. These lead generation sources include:
 
  •  Internet and affiliate advertising, which generates the majority of our leads and which includes purchasing leads from aggregators and also engaging in targeted, direct email advertising campaigns, and coordinated campaigns with various affiliates;
 
  •  search engine optimization techniques, through which we seek to obtain high placement in search engine results in response to key topic and word searches and drive traffic to our website;
 
  •  seminar and event marketing, in which our marketing and enrollment personnel host group events at various venues, including community colleges, corporations, and hospitals;
 
  •  referrals from existing students, alumni, and employees;
 
  •  a national accounts program that seeks to develop relationships with employers in our core disciplines, including healthcare providers, school districts, emergency services providers, and large corporations, that may be interested in providing dedicated and customized online and onsite educational opportunities to their employees, and to encourage senior executives to participate in executive training programs; and
 
  •  print and direct mail advertising campaigns, and other public relations and communications efforts, including promoting our athletic programs and student and alumni events.
 
Recruitment.  Once a prospective student has indicated an interest in enrolling in one of our programs, our lead management system identifies and directs an enrollment counselor to initiate immediate communication. The enrollment counselor serves as the primary, direct contact for the prospective student and the counselor’s goal is to help that individual gain sufficient knowledge and understanding of our programs so that he or she can assess whether there is a good match between our offerings and the prospective student’s goals. Upon the prospective student’s submission of an application, the enrollment counselor, together with our student services personnel, works with the applicant to gain acceptance, arrange financial aid, if needed, register for courses, and prepare for matriculation.
 
Our enrollment counselors typically have prior education industry or sales experience. Each counselor undergoes a standardized three-week training program that involves both classroom and supervisor-monitored fieldwork and provides the counselor with training in financial aid, regulatory requirements, general sales skills, and our history and heritage, mission, and academic programs. As of December 31, 2007, we employed over 300 enrollment counselors at facilities in Arizona and Utah and have capacity at our existing locations to support approximately 700 enrollment counselors, which we expect to be sufficient to handle our growth plans through 2009. We believe we can obtain additional capacity to accommodate our growth plans beyond 2009 on terms acceptable to us.
 
Retention.  We employ a retention team whose purpose is to support the student in advancing from matriculation through graduation. At the end of 2007, our retention team consisted of 15 “retention specialists,” whom, among other things, monitor “triggering events,” such as the failure to buy books for a registered course or to participate in online orientation exercises, which signal that a student may be at-risk for dropping out. Upon identifying an at-risk student, specialists proactively interact with the student to resolve any issues and encourage the student to continue with his or her program. In 2006, we developed and introduced our “concierge” system, which is a software program that monitors and manages the resolution of student issues, such as financial aid or technology problems, that, if left unresolved, may lead to dissatisfaction and lower student persistence. Under this system, each reported problem is issued a “ticket” that is accessible by all functional groups within Grand Canyon University and remains outstanding until the problem is resolved. The system directs the ticket to personnel best able to resolve the problem, and escalates the ticket to higher levels if not resolved within appropriate time periods. We have found that personally involving our employees in the student educational process, and proactively seeking to resolve issues before they become larger problems, can significantly increase retention rates among students. The concierge system also provides our marketing and enrollment personnel with greater insight into the qualities exhibited by successful students, which enables our enrollment team to recruit and enroll higher quality applicants.


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Admissions
 
Admission is available to qualified students who are at least 16 years of age. Applicants to our graduate programs must generally have an undergraduate degree from an accredited college, university, or program with a grade point average of 2.8 or greater, or a graduate degree from such a college, university, or program. Undergraduate applicants may qualify in various ways, including by having a high school diploma and an unweighted grade point average of 2.25 or greater or a composite score of 920 or greater on the Scholastic Aptitude Test, or a passing score of 520 or greater on the General Education Development (GED) tests. Some of our programs require a higher grade point average and/or other criteria to qualify for admission. In addition, some students who do not meet the qualifications for admission may be admitted at our discretion. A student being considered for admission with specification may be asked to submit additional information such as personal references and an essay addressing academic history. Students may also need to schedule an interview to help clarify academic goals and help us make an informed decision.
 
Enrollment
 
At the end of 2007, we had 14,754 students enrolled in our courses, of which 12,497, or 84.7%, were enrolled in our online programs, and 2,257, or 15.3%, were enrolled in our ground programs. Of our online students, which were geographically distributed throughout all 50 states of the United States, and Canada, 92.7% were age 25 or older. Of our ground students, which, although we draw students from throughout the United States, were predominantly comprised of students from Arizona, 63.2% were age 25 or older.
 
The following is a summary of our student enrollment at the end of 2007 (which included less than 100 students pursuing non-degree certificates) by degree type and by instructional delivery method:
 
                 
    # of Students     % of Total
 
Master’s
    9,156       62 .1
Bachelor’s
    5,598       37 .9
                 
Total
     14,754         100 .0 
                 
 
                 
    # of Students     % of Total
Online
    12,497       84 .7
Ground*
    2,257       15 .3
                 
Total
     14,754        100 .0 
                 
 
 
* Includes our traditional on-campus students, as well as our professional studies ground students.
 
Tuition and Fees
 
Our tuition rates vary by type and length of program and by degree level. For all graduate and undergraduate programs, tuition is determined by the number of courses taken by each student. For our 2008-09 academic year (the academic year that begins in May 2008), our prices per credit hour will be $395 for undergraduate online and professional studies courses, $420 for graduate online courses (other than graduate nursing), $510 for graduate online nursing courses, and $645 for undergraduate courses for ground students. The overall price of each course varies based upon the number of credit hours per course (with most courses representing three credit hours), the degree level of the program, and the discipline of the course. In addition, we charge a fixed $7,740 “block tuition” for undergraduate ground students taking between 12 and 18 credit hours per semester, with an additional $645 per credit hour for credits in excess of 18. A traditional undergraduate degree typically requires a minimum of 120 credit hours. The minimum number of credit hours required for a master’s degree and overall cost for such a degree varies by program although such programs typically require approximately 36 credit hours. We expect our new doctoral program in education, which is first being offered in the 2008-09 academic year, to cost $770 per credit hour and require approximately 60 credit hours.


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We offer tuition scholarships to select students, including online students, athletes, employees, and participants in programs we offer through relationships with employers. For the years ended December 31, 2006 and 2007, we offered tuition scholarships representing a total value of approximately $8.2 million and $10.3 million, respectively, over the same periods.
 
We have established a refund policy for tuition and fees based upon semester start dates. If a student drops or withdraws from a course during the first week of the semester, 100% of the charges for tuition and fees are refunded, while during the second and third weeks of a semester 75% and 50%, respectively, of the tuition charges are refunded but none of the fees. Following the third week of the semester, tuition and fees are not refunded. Fees charged by us include application and graduation fees of $100 and $150, respectively, as well as fees for dropping or withdrawing from courses after the beginning of the semester. This tuition and fees refund policy is different from, and applies in addition to, the return of Title IV funds policy we are required to use as a condition of our participation in the Title IV programs.
 
Sources of Student Financing
 
Our students finance their education through a combination of methods, as follows:
 
Title IV programs.  The federal government provides for grants and loans to students under the Title IV programs, and students can use those funds at any institution that has been certified as eligible by the Department of Education. Student financial aid under the Title IV programs is primarily awarded on the basis of a student’s financial need, which is generally defined as the difference between the cost of attending the institution and the amount the student and the student’s family can reasonably contribute to that cost. All students receiving Title IV program funds must maintain satisfactory academic progress toward completion of their program of study. In addition, each school must ensure that Title IV program funds are properly accounted for and disbursed in the correct amounts to eligible students.
 
During fiscal 2007, we derived approximately 74.0% of our revenue (calculated on a cash basis in accordance with Department of Education standards) from tuition financed under the Title IV programs. The primary Title IV programs that our students receive funding from are the Federal Family Education Loan, or FFEL, Program, and the Federal Pell Grant, or Pell, Program, which are described below:
 
  •  FFEL.  Under the FFEL Program, banks and other lending institutions make loans to students. The FFEL Program includes the Federal Stafford Loan Program, the Federal PLUS Program (which provides loans to graduate and professional studies students as well as parents of dependent undergraduate students), and the Federal Consolidation Loan Program. If a student defaults on an FFEL loan, payment to the lender is guaranteed by a federally recognized guaranty agency, which is then reimbursed by the Department of Education. Students who demonstrate financial need may qualify for a subsidized Stafford loan. With a subsidized Stafford loan, the federal government pays the interest on the loan while the student is in school and during grace periods and any approved periods of deferment, until the student’s obligation to repay the loan begins. Unsubsidized Stafford loans are not based on financial need, and are available to students who do not qualify for a subsidized Stafford loan or, in some cases, in addition to a subsidized Stafford loan. Loan funds are disbursed to us, and we in turn disburse the amounts in excess of tuition and fees to students.
 
     Effective July 1, 2007, under the Federal Stafford Loan Program, a dependent undergraduate student may borrow up to $3,500 for the first academic year, $4,500 for the second academic year, and $5,500 for each of the third and fourth academic years. Students who are classified as independent can obtain up to an additional $4,000 for each of the first and second academic years and an additional $5,000 for each of the third and fourth academic years. Students enrolled in graduate programs can borrow up to $20,500 per academic year. Students enrolled in certain graduate-level health programs can receive an additional $12,500 per academic year. Effective July 1, 2008, the annual loan limits for most undergraduate students were increased by $2,000.


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  •  Pell.  Under the Pell Program, the Department of Education makes grants to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. Effective July 1, 2007, the maximum annual grant a student can receive under the Pell Program is $4,310, and effective July 1, 2008 that maximum will increase to $4,731.
 
Our students also receive funding under other Title IV programs, including the Federal Perkins Loan Program, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program, the Federal Work-Study Program, the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant Program, and the Academic Competitiveness Grant Program.
 
Other financial aid programs.  In addition to the Title IV programs listed above, eligible students may participate in several other financial aid programs or receive support from other governmental sources. These include veterans educational benefits administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and state financial aid programs. During fiscal 2007, we derived an immaterial amount of our net revenue from tuition financed by such programs.
 
Private loans.  Some of our students also use private loan programs to help finance their education. Students can apply to a number of different lenders for private loans at current market interest rates. Private loans are intended to fund a portion of students’ cost of education not covered by the Title IV programs and other financial aid. During fiscal 2007, payments derived from private loans constituted approximately 5.0% of our cash revenue. Third-party lenders independently determine whether a loan to a student is classified as subprime, and, based on these determinations, payments to us derived from subprime loans constituted approximately 0.2% of our cash revenue.
 
Other sources.  We derived the remainder of our net revenue from tuition that is self-funded or attributable to employer tuition reimbursements.
 
Technology Systems and Management
 
We believe that we have established a secure, reliable, scalable technology system that provides a high quality online educational environmental and gives us the capability to substantially grow our online programs and enrollment.
 
Online course delivery and management.  In 2007, we implemented the ANGEL Learning Management Suite, which is a web-based system and collaboration portal that stores, manages, and delivers course content; provides interactive communication between students and faculty; enables assignment uploading; and supplies online evaluation tools. The system also provides centralized administration features that support the implementation of policies for content format and in-classroom learning tools. We continually seek to develop and implement features that enhance the online classroom experience, such as delivering course content through streaming video, which we expect to begin for selected courses in the fall of 2008.
 
Internal administration.  We utilize a commercial customer relations management package to distribute, manage, track, and report on all prospective student leads developed, both internally and externally. We also utilize a commercial software package to track Title IV funds, student records, grades, accounts receivable, and accounts payable. Each of these packages is scalable to capacity levels well in excess of current requirements.
 
Infrastructure.  We operate two data centers, one at our campus and one at a third party co-location facility. All of our servers are networked and we have redundant data backup. We manage our technology environment internally. Our wide area network uses multi-protocol label switching technology for maximum availability and flexibility. Student access is provided through redundant data carriers in both data centers and is load balanced for maximum performance. Real-time monitoring provides current system status across server, network, and storage components.


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Ground Campus
 
Our ground campus is located on approximately 90 acres in the center of the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area, near downtown Phoenix. Our campus facilities currently consist of 43 buildings with more than 500,000 square feet of space, which include 63 classrooms, three lecture halls, a 500-seat theater, three student computer labs with 150 computers that are available to students 18 hours per day, a 68,000-volume physical library, and a media arts complex that provides communications students with audio and video equipment. We house our ground students in on-campus student apartments and dormitories that can collectively hold up to 800 students.
 
We have 18 athletic teams that compete in Division II of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Our athletic facilities include two gymnasiums, which accommodate basketball, volleyball, and wrestling, as well as facilities for our baseball, softball, tennis, lacrosse, and swimming programs. Our baseball program has produced more than ten Major League Baseball players.
 
We believe our ground-based programs and traditional campus not only offers our ground students, faculty, and staff an opportunity to participate in a traditional college experience, but also provides our online students, faculty, and staff with a sense of connection to a traditional university. Additionally, our full-time ground faculty play an important role in integrating online faculty into our academic programs and ensuring the overall consistency and quality of the ground and online student experience. We believe our mix of a rapidly growing online program, anchored by a traditional ground-based program with a nearly 60-year history and heritage, differentiates us from most other for-profit postsecondary education providers.
 
Employees
 
In addition to our faculty, as of December 31, 2007, we employed 702 staff and administrative personnel in university services, academic advising and academic support, enrollment services, university administration, financial aid, information technology, human resources, corporate accounting, finance, and other administrative functions. None of our employees is a party to any collective bargaining or similar agreement with us. We consider our relationships with our employees to be good.
 
Competition
 
There are more than 4,000 U.S. colleges and universities serving traditional and adult students. Competition is highly fragmented and varies by geography, program offerings, modality, ownership, quality level, and selectivity of admissions. No one institution has a significant share of the total postsecondary market.
 
Our ground program competes with Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, and the University of Arizona, the in-state public universities, as well as two-year colleges within the state community college system. To a limited extent, our ground program also competes with geographically proximate universities with similar religious heritages, including Azusa Pacific University, Baylor University, and Seattle Pacific University. Our online programs compete with local, traditional universities geographically located near each of our prospective students, and with other for-profit postsecondary schools that offer online degrees, particularly those schools that offer online graduate programs within our core disciplines, including Capella University, University of Phoenix, and Walden University.
 
Non-profit institutions receive substantial government subsidies, and have access to government and foundation grants, tax-deductible contributions and other financial resources generally not available to for-profit schools. Accordingly, non-profit institutions may have instructional and support resources that are superior to those in the for-profit sector. In addition, some of our competitors, including both traditional colleges and universities and other for-profit schools, have substantially greater name recognition and financial and other resources than we have, which may enable them to compete more effectively for potential students. We also expect to face increased competition as a result of new entrants to the online education market, including established colleges and universities that had not previously offered online education programs.


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We believe that the competitive factors in the postsecondary education market include:
 
  •  availability of career-oriented and accredited program offerings;
 
  •  the types of degrees offered and marketability of those degrees;
 
  •  reputation, regulatory approvals, and compliance history of the school;
 
  •  convenient, flexible and dependable access to programs and classes;
 
  •  qualified and experienced faculty;
 
  •  level of student support services;
 
  •  cost of the program;
 
  •  marketing and selling effectiveness; and
 
  •  the time necessary to earn a degree.
 
Property
 
Our ground campus occupies approximately 90 acres in Phoenix, Arizona. We lease the campus under a lease that expires in 2024. Renewal terms under this lease allow for us to extend the current lease for up to four additional five-year terms. We also lease two additional enrollment facilities, one in Utah and one in Arizona. We believe our existing facilities are adequate for current requirements and that additional space can be obtained on commercially reasonable terms to meet future requirements.
 
Intellectual Property
 
We rely on a combination of copyrights, trademarks, service marks, trade secrets, domain names and agreements with third parties to protect our proprietary rights. In many instances, our course content is produced for us by faculty and other subject matter experts under work for hire agreements pursuant to which we own the course content in return for a fixed development fee. In certain limited cases, we license course content from a third party on a royalty fee basis.
 
We are parties to an exclusive license agreement with Blanchard Education, LLC pursuant to which we license the right to name our business school “The Ken Blanchard College of Business” and to use the name of Ken Blanchard to promote our business school and business degree programs. In return, we pay royalties to the licensor equal to a fixed percentage of our net tuition received in respect of our upper level business courses. The agreement expires in June 2011, and is automatically renewable for an additional five years unless terminated by either party within six months prior to such expiration date.
 
We rely on trademark and service mark protections in the United States for our name and distinctive logos, along with various other trademarks and service marks related to our specific offerings. We also own domain name rights to “www.gcu.edu,” as well as other words and phrases important to our business.
 
Legal Proceedings
 
On February 28, 2007, we filed a complaint against SunGard Higher Education Managed Services, Inc. in the Maricopa County Superior Court, Case No. CV2007-003492, for breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of warranty, breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interference with business expectancy, unjust enrichment, and consumer fraud related to a technology services agreement between the parties. In response, SunGard moved to stay the litigation and compel arbitration. The court granted the motion to stay, and compelled the parties to arbitrate. SunGard has also counterclaimed alleging breach of contract relating to the parties’ technology services agreement. Various other motions have been made and heard, discovery is ongoing, and arbitration is scheduled to commence in late May 2008. We are seeking approximately $1.4 million from SunGard, and SunGard has counterclaimed for approximately $1.7 million.
 
From time to time, we are a party to various other lawsuits, claims, and other legal proceedings that arise in the ordinary course of our business. We are not at this time a party, as plaintiff or defendant, to any legal proceedings which, individually or in the aggregate, would be expected to have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, or results of operation.


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REGULATION
 
We are subject to extensive regulation by state education agencies, accrediting commissions, and the federal government through the Department of Education under the Higher Education Act. The regulations, standards, and policies of these agencies cover the vast majority of our operations, including our educational programs, facilities, instructional and administrative staff, administrative procedures, marketing, recruiting, financial operations, and financial condition.
 
As an institution of higher education that grants degrees and certificates, we are required to be authorized by appropriate state education authorities. In addition, in order to participate in the federal programs of student financial assistance for our students, we must be accredited by an accrediting commission recognized by the Department of Education. Accreditation is a non-governmental process through which an institution submits to qualitative review by an organization of peer institutions, based on the standards of the accrediting commission and the stated aims and purposes of the institution. The Higher Education Act requires accrediting commissions recognized by the Department of Education to review and monitor many aspects of an institution’s operations and to take appropriate action if the institution fails to meet the accrediting commission’s standards.
 
Our operations are also subject to regulation by the Department of Education due to our participation in federal student financial aid programs under Title IV of the Higher Education Act, which we refer to in this prospectus as the Title IV programs. The Title IV programs include educational loans with below-market interest rates that are guaranteed by the federal government in the event of a student’s default on repaying the loan, and also grant programs for students with demonstrated financial need. To participate in the Title IV programs, a school must receive and maintain authorization by the appropriate state education agency or agencies, be accredited by an accrediting commission recognized by the Department of Education, and be certified as an eligible institution by the Department of Education.
 
Our business activities are planned and implemented to comply with the standards of these regulatory agencies. We employ a full-time director of compliance who is knowledgeable about regulatory matters relevant to student financial aid programs and our chief financial officer and general counsel also provide oversight designed to ensure that we meet the requirements of our regulated operating environment.
 
State Education Licensure and Regulation
 
We are authorized to offer our programs by the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education, the regulatory agency governing private postsecondary educational institutions in the state of Arizona, where we are located. We do not presently have campuses in any states other than Arizona. We are required by the Higher Education Act to maintain authorization from the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education in order to participate in the Title IV programs. This authorization is very important to us and our business. To maintain our state authorization, we must continuously meet standards relating to, among other things, educational programs, facilities, instructional and administrative staff, marketing and recruitment, financial operations, addition of new locations and educational programs, and various operational and administrative procedures. Failure to comply with the requirements of the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education could result in us losing our authorization to offer our educational programs, which would cause us to lose our eligibility to participate in the Title IV programs and which, in turn, could force us to cease operations. Alternatively, the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education could restrict our ability to offer certain degree programs.
 
Most other states impose regulatory requirements on out-of-state educational institutions operating within their boundaries, such as those having a physical facility or recruiting students within the state. State laws establish standards in areas such as instruction, qualifications of faculty, administrative procedures, marketing, recruiting, financial operations, and other operational matters, some of which are different than the standards prescribed by the Department of Education or the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education. Laws in some states limit schools’ ability to offer educational programs and award degrees to residents of those states. Some states also prescribe financial regulations that are different from those of the Department of Education, and many require the posting of surety bonds.


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In addition, several states have sought to assert jurisdiction over educational institutions offering online degree programs that have no physical location or other presence in the state but that have some activity in the state, such as enrolling or offering educational services to students who reside in the state, employing faculty who reside in the state, or advertising to or recruiting prospective students in the state. State regulatory requirements for online education vary among the states, are not well developed in many states, are imprecise or unclear in some states, and can change frequently. New laws, regulations, or interpretations related to doing business over the Internet could increase our cost of doing business and affect our ability to recruit students in particular states, which could, in turn, negatively affect enrollments and revenues and have a material adverse effect on our business.
 
In addition to Arizona, we have determined that our activities in certain states constitute a presence requiring licensure or authorization under the requirements of the state education agency in those states. In other states, we have obtained approvals as we have determined necessary in connection with our marketing and recruiting activities. We review the licensure requirements of other states when appropriate to determine whether our activities in those states constitute a presence or otherwise require licensure or authorization by the respective state education agencies. Because we enroll students from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, we expect we will have to seek licensure or authorization in additional states in the future. If we fail to comply with state licensing or authorization requirements for a state, or fail to obtain licenses or authorizations when required, we could lose our state licensure or authorization by that state or be subject to other sanctions, including restrictions on our activities in that state, fines, and penalties. The loss of licensure or authorization in a state other than Arizona could prohibit us from recruiting prospective students or offering services to current students in that state, which could significantly reduce our enrollments.
 
State Professional Licensure
 
Many states have specific requirements that an individual must satisfy in order to be licensed as a professional in specified fields, including fields such as education and healthcare. These requirements vary by state and by field. A student’s success in obtaining licensure following graduation typically depends on several factors, including the background and qualifications of the individual graduate, as well as the following factors, among others:
 
  •  whether the institution and the program were approved by the state in which the graduate seeks licensure, or by a professional association;
 
  •  whether the program from which the student graduated meets all requirements for professional licensure in that state;
 
  •  whether the institution and the program are accredited and, if so, by what accrediting commissions; and
 
  •  whether the institution’s degrees are recognized by other states in which a student may seek to work.
 
Many states also require that graduates pass a state test or examination as a prerequisite to becoming certified in certain fields, such as teaching and nursing. Many states will certify individuals if they have already been certified in another state.
 
Our College of Education is approved by the Arizona State Board of Education to offer Institutional Recommendations (credentials) for the certification of elementary, secondary, and special education teachers and school administrators. Our College of Nursing and Health Services is approved by the Arizona State Board of Nursing for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science — Nursing degrees. Due to varying requirements for professional licensure in each state, we inform students of the risks associated with obtaining professional licensure and that it is each student’s responsibility to determine what state, local, or professional licensure and certification requirements are necessary in his or her individual state.


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Accreditation
 
We have been institutionally accredited since 1968 by the Higher Learning Commission and its predecessor, each a regional accrediting commission recognized by the Department of Education. Our accreditation was reaffirmed in 2007 as part of a regularly scheduled reaffirmation process. Accreditation is a private, non-governmental process for evaluating the quality of educational institutions and their programs in areas including student performance, governance, integrity, educational quality, faculty, physical resources, administrative capability and resources, and financial stability. To be recognized by the Department of Education, accrediting commissions must adopt specific standards for their review of educational institutions, conduct peer-review evaluations of institutions, and publicly designate those institutions that meet their criteria. An accredited school is subject to periodic review by its accrediting commissions to determine whether it continues to meet the performance, integrity and quality required for accreditation.
 
There are six regional accrediting commissions recognized by the Department of Education, each with a specified geographic scope of coverage, which together cover the entire United States. Most traditional, public and private non-profit, degree-granting colleges and universities are accredited by one of these six regional accrediting commissions. The Higher Learning Commission, which accredits Grand Canyon University, is the same regional accrediting commission that accredits such universities as the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and other degree-granting public and private colleges and universities in the states of Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
 
Accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission is important to us for several reasons, including the fact that it enables our students to receive Title IV financial aid. Other colleges and universities depend, in part, on an institution’s accreditation in evaluating transfers of credit and applications to graduate schools. Employers rely on the accredited status of institutions when evaluating candidates’ credentials, and students and corporate and government sponsors under tuition reimbursement programs look to accreditation for assurance that an institution maintains quality educational standards. If we fail to satisfy the standards of the Higher Learning Commission, we could lose our accreditation by that agency, which would cause us to lose our eligibility to participate in the Title IV programs.
 
In addition to institution-wide accreditation, there are numerous specialized accrediting commissions that accredit specific programs or schools within their jurisdiction, many of which are in healthcare and professional fields. Accreditation of specific programs by one of these specialized accrediting commissions signifies that those programs have met the additional standards of those agencies. In addition to being accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, we also have the following specialized accreditations:
 
  •  The Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs accredits our Master of Business Administration degree program and our Bachelor of Science degree programs in Accounting, Business Administration, and Marketing;
 
  •  The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education accredits our Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science — Nursing degree programs; and
 
  •  The Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education accredits our Athletic Training Program.
 
If we fail to satisfy the standards of any of these specialized accrediting commissions, we could lose the specialized accreditation for the affected programs, which could result in materially reduced student enrollments in those programs.
 
Regulation of Federal Student Financial Aid Programs
 
To be eligible to participate in the Title IV programs, an institution must comply with specific requirements contained in the Higher Education Act and the regulations issued thereunder by the Department of Education. An institution must, among other things, be licensed or authorized to offer its educational programs by the state in which it is physically located (in our case, Arizona) and maintain institutional


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accreditation by an accrediting commission recognized by the Department of Education. We are currently certified to participate in the Title IV programs through June 30, 2008.
 
The substantial amount of federal funds disbursed to schools through the Title IV programs, the large number of students and institutions participating in these programs, and allegations of fraud and abuse by certain for-profit educational institutions have caused Congress to require the Department of Education to exercise considerable regulatory oversight over for-profit educational institutions. As a result, our institution is subject to extensive oversight and review. Because the Department of Education periodically revises its regulations and changes its interpretations of existing laws and regulations, we cannot predict with certainty how the Title IV program requirements will be applied in all circumstances.
 
Significant factors relating to the Title IV programs that could adversely affect us include the following:
 
Congressional action.  Congress must reauthorize the Higher Education Act on a periodic basis, usually every five to six years. Congress’ most recent comprehensive reauthorization of the Higher Education Act was in 1998, and it has been temporarily extended several times since then. Congress is currently considering a comprehensive reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and is expected to complete that process in 2008. In addition, in 2007 Congress enacted legislation that reduces interest rates on certain Title IV loans and government subsidies to lenders that participate in the Title IV programs. In May 2008, Congress enacted additional legislation to attempt to ensure that all eligible students will be able to obtain Title IV loans in the future, and that a sufficient number of lenders will continue to provide Title IV loans. Additional legislation is also pending in Congress. We are not in a position to predict with certainty whether any of the pending legislation will be enacted. The elimination of certain Title IV programs, material changes in the requirements for participation in such programs, or the substitution of materially different programs could increase our costs of compliance and could reduce the ability of some students to finance their education at our institution.
 
In addition, Congress must determine the funding levels for the Title IV programs on an annual basis through the budget and appropriations process. A reduction in federal funding levels for the Title IV programs could reduce the ability of some of our students to finance their education. The loss of or a significant reduction in Title IV program funds available to our students could reduce our enrollments and revenue.
 
Eligibility and certification procedures.  Each institution must apply periodically to the Department of Education for continued certification to participate in the Title IV programs. Such recertification generally is required every six years, but may be required earlier, including when an institution undergoes a change in control. An institution may also come under the Department of Education’s review when it expands its activities in certain ways, such as opening an additional location, adding a new educational program or modifying the academic credentials it offers. The Department of Education may place an institution on provisional certification status if it finds that the institution does not fully satisfy all of the eligibility and certification standards and in certain other circumstances, such as when an institution is certified for the first time or undergoes a change in control. During the period of provisional certification, the institution must comply with any additional conditions included in the school’s program participation agreement with the Department of Education. In addition, the Department of Education may more closely review an institution that is provisionally certified if it applies for recertification or approval to open a new location, add an educational program, acquire another school, or make any other significant change. If the Department of Education determines that a provisionally certified institution is unable to meet its responsibilities under its program participation agreement, it may seek to revoke the institution’s certification to participate in the Title IV programs without advance notice or opportunity for the institution to challenge the action. Students attending provisionally certified institutions remain eligible to receive Title IV program funds.
 
We are currently certified to participate in the Title IV programs through June 30, 2008, on a provisional basis. The Department of Education issued our current program participation agreement in May 2005, after an extended review following the change in control that occurred in February 2004. In the May 2005 recertification, the Department of Education imposed certain conditions on us, including a requirement that we post a letter of credit, accept restrictions on the growth of our program offerings and enrollment, and receive certain Title IV funds under the heightened cash monitoring system of payment (pursuant to which an institution is required to credit students with Title IV funds prior to obtaining those funds from the Department


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of Education) rather than by advance payment (pursuant to which an institution receives Title IV funds from the Department of Education in advance of disbursement to students). In October 2006, the Department of Education eliminated the letter of credit requirement and allowed the growth restrictions to expire, and in August 2007, it eliminated the heightened cash monitoring restrictions and returned us to the advance payment method. However, we remain certified on a provisional basis. Our current certification extends to June 30, 2008, and we submitted our application for recertification in March 2008, which remains pending. If the Department of Education does not make a decision on our recertification application on or before June 30, 2008, our provisional certification status will be extended on a month-to-month basis. There can be no assurance that the Department of Education will recertify us, or that it will not impose restrictions as a condition of approving our pending recertification application or with respect to any future recertification.
 
Administrative capability.  Department of Education regulations specify extensive criteria by which an institution must establish that it has the requisite “administrative capability” to participate in the Title IV programs. To meet the administrative capability standards, an institution must, among other things:
 
  •  comply with all applicable Title IV program requirements;
 
  •  have an adequate number of qualified personnel to administer the Title IV programs;
 
  •  have acceptable standards for measuring the satisfactory academic progress of its students;
 
  •  not have student loan cohort default rates above specified levels;
 
  •  have various procedures in place for awarding, disbursing and safeguarding Title IV funds and for maintaining required records;
 
  •  administer the Title IV programs with adequate checks and balances in its system of internal controls;
 
  •  not be, and not have any principal or affiliate who is, debarred or suspended from federal contracting or engaging in activity that is cause for debarment or suspension;
 
  •  provide financial aid counseling to its students;
 
  •  refer to the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General any credible information indicating that any student, parent, employee, third-party servicer or other agent of the institution has engaged in any fraud or other illegal conduct involving the Title IV programs;
 
  •  submit all required reports and financial statements in a timely manner; and
 
  •  not otherwise appear to lack administrative capability.
 
If an institution fails to satisfy any of these criteria, the Department of Education may:
 
  •  require the institution to repay Title IV funds its students previously received;
 
  •  transfer the institution from the advance method of payment of Title IV funds to heightened cash monitoring status or the reimbursement system of payment;
 
  •  place the institution on provisional certification status; or
 
  •  commence a proceeding to impose a fine or to limit, suspend or terminate the institution’s participation in the Title IV programs.
 
If we are found not to have satisfied the Department of Education’s administrative capability requirements, our students could lose, or be limited in their access to, Title IV program funding.
 
Financial responsibility.  The Higher Education Act and Department of Education regulations establish extensive standards of financial responsibility that institutions such as Grand Canyon University must satisfy in order to participate in the Title IV programs. The Department of Education evaluates institutions for compliance with these standards on an annual basis, based on the institution’s annual audited financial statements, as well as when the institution applies to the Department of Education to have its eligibility to


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participate in the Title IV programs recertified. The most significant financial responsibility standard is the institution’s composite score, which is derived from a formula established by the Department of Education based on three financial ratios:
 
  •  equity ratio, which measures the institution’s capital resources, financial viability and ability to borrow;
 
  •  primary reserve ratio, which measures the institution’s ability to support current operations from expendable resources; and
 
  •  net income ratio, which measures the institution’s ability to operate at a profit or within its means.
 
The Department of Education assigns a strength factor to the results of each of these ratios on a scale from negative 1.0 to positive 3.0, with negative 1.0 reflecting financial weakness and positive 3.0 reflecting financial strength. The Department of Education then assigns a weighting percentage to each ratio and adds the weighted scores for the three ratios together to produce a composite score for the institution. The composite score must be at least 1.5 for the institution to be deemed financially responsible without the need for further Department of Education oversight. In addition to having an acceptable composite score, an institution must, among other things, provide the administrative resources necessary to comply with Title IV program requirements, meet all of its financial obligations including required refunds to students and any Title IV liabilities and debts, be current in its debt payments, and not receive an adverse, qualified, or disclaimed opinion by its accountants in its audited financial statements.
 
When we were recertified by the Department of Education in 2005 to continue participating in the Title IV programs, the Department of Education advised us that we did not satisfy its standards of financial responsibility, based on our fiscal year 2004 financial statements, as submitted to the Department of Education. As a result of this and other concerns about our administrative capability, the Department of Education required us to post a letter of credit, accept restrictions on the growth of our program offerings and enrollment, and receive Title IV funds under the heightened cash monitoring system of payment rather than by advance payment. In October 2006, the Department of Education eliminated the letter of credit requirement and allowed the growth restrictions to expire, based upon its review of our fiscal year 2005 financial statements. We subsequently submitted our fiscal year 2006 financial statements to the Department of Education as required, and we calculated that our composite score for that year exceeded 1.5.
 
We have applied the Department of Education’s financial responsibility standards using the financial information included in our audited financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2007 included herein, and expect that our composite score for that year will also exceed 1.5. We therefore believe that we meet the Department of Education’s financial responsibility standards for our most recently completed fiscal year. If the Department of Education were to determine that we did not meet the financial responsibility standards due to a failure to meet the composite score or other factors, we would expect to be able to establish financial responsibility on an alternative basis permitted by the Department of Education, which could include, in the Department’s discretion, posting a letter of credit, accepting provisional certification, complying with additional Department of Education monitoring requirements, agreeing to receive Title IV program funds under an arrangement other than the Department of Education’s standard advance funding arrangement, such as the reimbursement system of payment or heightened cash monitoring, and/or complying with or accepting other limitations on our ability to increase the number of programs we offer or the number of students we enroll.
 
The requirement to post a letter of credit or other sanctions imposed by the Department of Education could increase our cost of regulatory compliance and adversely affect our cash flows. If we are unable to meet the minimum composite score or comply with the other standards of financial responsibility, and could not post a required letter of credit or comply with the alternative bases for establishing financial responsibility, our students could lose their access to Title IV program funding.
 
Return of Title IV funds for students who withdraw.  When a student who has received Title IV funds withdraws from school, the institution must determine the amount of Title IV program funds the student has “earned.” If the student withdraws during the first 60% of any period of enrollment or payment period, the


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amount of Title IV program funds that the student has earned is equal to a pro rata portion of the funds the student received or for which the student would otherwise be eligible. If the student withdraws after the 60% threshold, then the student is deemed to have earned 100% of the Title IV program funds he or she received. The institution must then return the unearned Title IV program funds to the appropriate lender or the Department of Education in a timely manner, which is generally no later than 45 days after the date the institution determined that the student withdrew. If such payments are not timely made, the institution will be required to submit a letter of credit to the Department of Education equal to 25% of the Title IV funds that the institution should have returned for withdrawn students in its most recently completed fiscal year. Under Department of Education regulations, late returns of Title IV program funds for 5% or more of the withdrawn students in the audit sample in the institution’s annual Title IV compliance audit for either of the institution’s two most recent fiscal years or in a Department of Education program review triggers this letter of credit requirement. We did not exceed this 5% threshold in our annual Title IV compliance audit for either of our two most recent fiscal years.
 
The “90/10 Rule.”  A requirement of the Higher Education Act commonly referred to as the “90/10 Rule” provides that an institution loses its eligibility to participate in the Title IV programs, if, under a complex regulatory formula that requires cash basis accounting and other adjustments to the calculation of revenue, the institution derives more than 90% of its revenues for any fiscal year from Title IV program funds. This rule applies only to for-profit postsecondary educational institutions, including us. Any institution that violates the rule becomes ineligible to participate in the Title IV programs as of the first day of the fiscal year following the fiscal year in which it exceeds the 90% threshold, and it is unable to apply to regain its eligibility until the next fiscal year. If an institution exceeds the 90% threshold for a fiscal year and it and its students have received Title IV funds for the next fiscal year, it will be required to return those funds to the applicable lender or the Department of Education. Using the Department of Education’s formula under the “90/10 Rule,” for our 2006 and 2007 fiscal years we derived approximately 71.5 % and 74.0%, respectively, of our revenues (calculated on a cash basis) from Title IV program funds. Recent changes in federal law that increased Title IV grant and loan limits, and possible additional increases in the future, may result in an increase in the revenues we receive from the Title IV programs, which could make it more difficult for us to satisfy the “90/10 Rule.”
 
Student loan defaults.  Under the Higher Education Act, an educational institution may lose its eligibility to participate in some or all of the Title IV programs if defaults by its students on the repayment of their FFEL student loans exceed certain levels. For each federal fiscal year, the Department of Education calculates a rate of student defaults for each institution (known as a “cohort default rate”). An institution’s FFEL cohort default rate for a federal fiscal year is calculated by determining the rate at which borrowers who became subject to their repayment obligation in that federal fiscal year defaulted by the end of the following federal fiscal year.
 
If the Department of Education notifies an institution that its FFEL cohort default rates for each of the three most recent federal fiscal years are 25% or greater, the institution’s participation in the FFEL program and Pell program ends 30 days after that notification, unless the institution appeals that determination in a timely manner on specified grounds and according to specified procedures. In addition, an institution’s participation in the FFEL program ends 30 days after notification by the Department of Education that its most recent FFEL cohort default rate is greater than 40%, unless the institution timely appeals that determination on specified grounds and according to specified procedures. An institution whose participation ends under either of these provisions may not participate in the relevant programs for the remainder of the fiscal year in which the institution receives the notification and for the next two fiscal years.
 
If an institution’s FFEL cohort default rate equals or exceeds 25% in any single year, the institution may be placed on provisional certification status. Provisional certification does not limit an institution’s access to Title IV program funds, but an institution on provisional status is subject to closer review by the Department of Education if it applies for recertification or approval to open a new location, add an educational program, acquire another school, or make any other significant change, and the Department of Education may revoke such institution’s certification without advance notice if it determines that the institution is not fulfilling material Title IV program requirements. Our cohort default rates on FFEL program loans for the 2005, 2004


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and 2003 federal fiscal years, the three most recent years for which such rates have been calculated, were 1.8%, 1.4%, and 1.2%, respectively. The FFEL cohort default rates for federal fiscal year 2006 are expected to be released by the Department of Education in September 2008, but the Department of Education advised us in February 2008 that our draft FFEL cohort default rate for federal fiscal year 2006 was 1.6%. Congress is considering legislation that would extend the period for including student defaults in an institution’s default rate by one additional year, which if enacted is expected to increase the student loan default rates for most institutions.
 
Incentive compensation rule.  An institution that participates in the Title IV programs may not provide any commission, bonus, or other incentive payment based directly or indirectly on success in securing enrollments or financial aid to any person or entity engaged in any student recruitment, admissions, or financial aid awarding activity. The Department of Education’s regulations set forth 12 “safe harbors,” which describe payments and arrangements that do not violate the incentive compensation rule, but the law and regulations governing this requirement do not establish clear criteria for compliance in all circumstances. The restrictions of the incentive compensation rule also extend to any third-party companies that an educational institution contracts with for student recruitment, admissions, or financial aid awarding services. Since 2005, we have engaged Mind Streams, LLC to assist us with student recruitment activities.
 
In recent years, several for-profit education companies have been faced with whistleblower lawsuits, known as “qui tam” cases, brought by former employees alleging that their institution had made impermissible incentive payments. The employees bringing such lawsuits typically seek, for themselves and for the federal government, substantial financial penalties against the subject company. If we or any third parties we have engaged or engage in the future violate the incentive compensation rule, we could be fined or sanctioned by the Department of Education, or subjected to other monetary penalties that could be substantial. Although there can be no assurance that the Department of Education or a court would not find deficiencies in our present or former compensation practices for employees and third parties, we believe that our employee compensation and third-party contractual arrangements comply with the incentive compensation rule.
 
Compliance reviews.  We are subject to announced and unannounced compliance reviews and audits by various external agencies, including the Department of Education, its Office of Inspector General, state licensing agencies, agencies that guarantee FFEL loans, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and accrediting commissions. As part of the Department of Education’s ongoing monitoring of institutions’ administration of the Title IV programs, the Higher Education Act also requires institutions to annually submit to the Department of Education a Title IV compliance audit conducted by an independent certified public accountant in accordance with applicable federal and Department of Education audit standards. In addition, to enable the Department of Education to make a determination of an institution’s financial responsibility, each institution must annually submit audited financial statements prepared in accordance with Department of Education regulations.
 
Privacy of student records.  The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, or FERPA, and the Department of Education’s FERPA regulations require educational institutions to protect the privacy of students’ educational records by limiting an institution’s disclosure of a student’s personally identifiable information without the student’s prior written consent. FERPA also requires institutions to allow students to review and request changes to their educational records maintained by the institution, to notify students at least annually of this inspection right, and to maintain records in each student’s file listing requests for access to and disclosures of personally identifiable information and the interest of such party in that information. If an institution fails to comply with FERPA, the Department of Education may require corrective actions by the institution or may terminate an institution’s receipt of further federal funds. In addition, educational institutions are obligated to safeguard student information pursuant to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, or GLBA, a federal law designed to protect consumers’ personal financial information held by financial institutions and other entities that provide financial services to consumers. GLBA and the applicable GLBA regulations require an institution to, among other things, develop and maintain a comprehensive, written information security program designed to protect against the unauthorized disclosure of personally identifiable financial information of students, parents, or other individuals with whom such institution has a customer relationship. If an institution fails to comply with the applicable GLBA requirements, it may be required to take corrective


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actions, be subject to monitoring and oversight by the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, and be subject to fines or penalties imposed by the FTC. For-profit educational institutions are also subject to the general deceptive practices jurisdiction of the FTC with respect to their collection, use, and disclosure of student information.
 
Potential effect of regulatory violations.  If we fail to comply with the regulatory standards governing the Title IV programs, the Department of Education could impose one or more sanctions, including transferring us to the reimbursement or cash monitoring system of payment, requiring us to repay Title IV program funds, requiring us to post a letter of credit in favor of the Department of Education as a condition for continued Title IV certification, taking emergency action against us, initiating proceedings to impose a fine or to limit, suspend, or terminate our participation in the Title IV programs, or referring the matter for civil or criminal prosecution. In addition, the agencies that guarantee FFEL loans for our students could initiate proceedings to limit, suspend, or terminate our eligibility to provide FFEL loans in the event of certain regulatory violations. If such sanctions or proceedings were imposed against us and resulted in a substantial curtailment or termination of our participation in the Title IV programs, our enrollments, revenues, and results of operations would be materially and adversely affected.
 
If we lost our eligibility to participate in the Title IV programs, or if the amount of available Title IV program funds was reduced, we would seek to arrange or provide alternative sources of revenue or financial aid for students. We believe that one or more private organizations would be willing to provide financial assistance to our students, but there is no assurance that this would be the case. The interest rate and other terms of such financial aid would likely not be as favorable as those for Title IV program funds, and we might be required to guarantee all or part of such alternative assistance or might incur other additional costs in connection with securing such alternative assistance. It is unlikely that we would be able to arrange alternative funding on any terms to replace all the Title IV funding our students receive. Accordingly, our loss of eligibility to participate in the Title IV programs, or a reduction in the amount of available Title IV program funding for our students, would be expected to have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, even if we could arrange or provide alternative sources of revenue or student financial aid.
 
In addition to the actions that may be brought against us as a result of our participation in the Title IV programs, we are also subject to complaints and lawsuits relating to regulatory compliance brought not only by our regulatory agencies, but also by other government agencies and third parties, such as present or former students or employees and other members of the public.
 
Uncertainties, increased oversight, and changes in student loan environment.  During 2007 and 2008, student loan programs, including the Title IV programs, have come under increased scrutiny by the Department of Education, Congress, state attorneys general, and other parties. Issues that have received extensive attention include allegations of conflicts of interest between some institutions and lenders that provide Title IV loans, questionable incentives given by lenders to some schools and school employees, allegations of deceptive practices in the marketing of student loans, and schools leading students to use certain lenders. Several institutions and lenders have been cited for these problems and have paid several million dollars in the aggregate to settle those claims. The practices of numerous other schools and lenders are being examined by government agencies at the federal and state level. The Attorney General of the State of Arizona has previously requested extensive documentation and information from us and other institutions in Arizona concerning student loan practices, and we recently provided testimony in response to a subpoena from the Attorney General of the State of Arizona about such practices. While no penalties have been assessed against us, we do not know what the results of that investigation will be. As a result of this scrutiny, Congress has passed new laws, the Department of Education has enacted stricter regulations that take effect July 1, 2008, and several states have adopted codes of conduct or enacted state laws that further regulate the conduct of lenders, schools, and school personnel. These new laws and regulations, among other things, limit schools’ relationships with lenders, restrict the types of services that schools may receive from lenders, prohibit lenders from providing other types of funding to schools in exchange for Title IV loan volume, require schools to provide additional information to students concerning institutionally preferred lenders, and significantly reduce the amount of federal payments to lenders who participate in the Title IV loan programs. In addition, recent adverse market conditions for consumer loans in general have begun to affect the student lending marketplace.


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The cumulative impact of these developments and conditions has caused some lenders to cease providing Title IV loans to students, including some lenders that have previously provided Title IV loans to our students. Other lenders have reduced the benefits and increased the fees associated with the Title IV loans they do provide. We and other schools have had to modify student loan practices in ways that result in higher administrative costs. If the costs of their Title IV loans increase, some students may decide not to take out loans and not enroll in a postsecondary institution. In May 2008, new federal legislation was enacted to attempt to ensure that all eligible students will be able to obtain Title IV loans in the future and that a sufficient number of lenders will continue to provide Title IV loans. Among other things, the new legislation:
 
  •  authorizes the Department of Education to purchase Title IV loans from lenders, thereby providing capital to the lenders to enable them to continue making Title IV loans to students; and
 
  •  permits the Department of Education to designate institutions eligible to participate in a “lender of last resort” program, under which federally recognized student loan guaranty agencies will be required to make Title IV loans to all otherwise eligible students at those institutions.
 
We cannot predict whether this legislation will be effective in ensuring students’ access to Title IV loan funding. The environment surrounding access to and cost of student loans remains in a state of flux, with reviews of many institutions and lenders still pending and with additional legislative and regulatory changes being actively considered at the federal and state levels. The uncertainty surrounding these issues, and any resolution of these issues that increases loan costs or reduces students’ access to Title IV loans, may adversely affect our student enrollments.
 
Regulatory Standards that May Restrict Institutional Expansion or Other Changes
 
Many actions that we may wish to take in connection with expanding our operations or other changes are subject to review or approval by the applicable regulatory agencies.
 
Adding teaching locations, implementing new educational programs, and increasing enrollment.  The requirements and standards of state education agencies, accrediting commissions, and the Department of Education limit our ability in certain instances to establish additional teaching locations, implement new educational programs, or increase enrollment in certain programs. Many states require review and approval before institutions can add new locations or programs, and Arizona also limits the number of undergraduate nursing students we may enroll (which represents a small portion of our overall nursing program). The Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education, the Higher Learning Commission, and other state education agencies and specialized accrediting commissions that authorize or accredit us and our programs generally require institutions to notify them in advance of adding new locations or implementing new programs, and upon notification may undertake a review of the quality of the facility or the program and the financial, academic, and other qualifications of the institution. For instance, following applications we filed in December 2006, we received approval from the Higher Learning Commission and the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education in March 2008 to add our first doctoral level program.
 
With respect to the Department of Education, if an institution participating in the Title IV programs plans to add a new location or educational program, the institution must generally apply to the Department of Education to have the additional location or educational program designated as within the scope of the institution’s Title IV eligibility. However, a degree-granting institution such as us is not required to obtain the Department of Education’s approval of additional programs that lead to an associate, bachelor’s, professional, or graduate degree at the same degree level as programs previously approved by the Department of Education. Similarly, an institution is not required to obtain advance approval for new programs that prepare students for gainful employment in the same or a related recognized occupation as an educational program that has previously been designated by the Department of Education as an eligible program at that institution if it meets certain minimum-length requirements. However, as a condition for an institution to participate in the Title IV programs on a provisional basis, the Department of Education can require prior approval of such programs or otherwise restrict the number of programs an institution may add or the extent to which an institution can modify existing educational programs. If an institution that is required to obtain the Department of Education’s advance approval for the addition of a new program or new location fails to do so, the


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institution may be liable for repayment of the Title IV program funds received by the institution or students in connection with that program or enrolled at that location.
 
Acquiring other schools.  While we have not acquired any other schools in the past, we may seek to do so in the future. The Department of Education and virtually all state education agencies and accrediting commissions require a company to seek their approval if it wishes to acquire another school. In our case, we would need to obtain the approval of the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education or other state education agency that licenses the school being acquired, the Higher Learning Commission, any other accrediting commission that accredits the school being acquired, and the Department of Education. The level of review varies by individual state and accrediting commission, with some requiring approval of such an acquisition before it occurs while others only consider approval after the acquisition has occurred. The approval of the applicable state education agencies and accrediting commissions is a necessary prerequisite to the Department of Education certifying the acquired school to participate in the Title IV programs under our ownership. The restrictions imposed by any of the applicable regulatory agencies could delay or prevent our acquisition of other schools in some circumstances.
 
Provisional certification.  Each institution must apply to the Department of Education for continued certification to participate in the Title IV programs at least every six years, or when it undergoes a change in control, and an institution may come under the Department of Education’s review when it expands its activities in certain ways, such as opening an additional location, adding an educational program, or modifying the academic credentials that it offers.
 
The Department of Education may place an institution on provisional certification status if it finds that the institution does not fully satisfy all of the eligibility and certification standards. In addition, if a company acquires a school from another entity, the acquired school will automatically be placed on provisional certification when the Department of Education approves the transaction. During the period of provisional certification, the institution must comply with any additional conditions or restrictions included in its program participation agreement with the Department of Education. Students attending provisionally certified institutions remain eligible to receive Title IV program funds, but if the Department of Education finds that a provisionally certified institution is unable to meet its responsibilities under its program participation agreement, it may seek to revoke the institution’s certification to participate in the Title IV programs without advance notice or opportunity for the institution to challenge that action. In addition, the Department of Education may more closely review an institution that is provisionally certified if it applies for recertification or approval to open a new location, add an educational program, acquire another school, or make any other significant change.
 
We are currently certified to participate in the Title IV programs through June 30, 2008, on a provisional basis. The Department of Education issued our current program participation agreement in May 2005, after an extended review following the change in control that occurred in February 2004. The Department of Education’s 2005 recertification imposed certain conditions on us, including a requirement that we post a letter of credit, accept restrictions on the growth of our program offerings and enrollment, and receive Title IV funds under the heightened cash monitoring system of payment rather than by advance payment. In October 2006, the Department of Education eliminated the letter of credit requirement and allowed the growth restrictions to expire, and in August 2007, it eliminated the heightened cash monitoring restrictions and returned us to the advance payment method. However, we remain certified on a provisional basis, which means that the Department of Education may more closely review our applications for recertification, new locations, new educational programs, acquisitions of other schools, or other significant changes, and it may revoke its certification of us without advance notice if it determines we are not fulfilling material Title IV requirements. Our current certification extends to June 30, 2008, and we submitted our application for recertification in March 2008, which remains pending. If the Department of Education does not make a decision on our recertification application on or before June 30, 2008, our provisional certification status will be extended on a month-to-month basis. There can be no assurance that the Department of Education will recertify us, or that it will not impose restrictions as a condition of approving our pending recertification application or with respect to any future recertification.
 
Change in ownership resulting in a change in control.  Many states and accrediting commissions require institutions of higher education to report or obtain approval of certain changes in control and changes in other


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aspects of institutional organization or control. The types of and thresholds for such reporting and approval vary among the states and accrediting commissions. The Higher Learning Commission provides that an institution must obtain its approval in advance of a change in ownership in order for the institution to retain its accredited status, but the Higher Learning Commission does not set specific standards for determining when a transaction constitutes a change in ownership. In addition, in the event of a change in ownership, the Higher Learning Commission requires an onsite evaluation within six months in order to continue the institution’s accreditation. Our other specialized accrediting commissions also require an institution to obtain similar approval before or after the event that constitutes the change in control under their standards.
 
Many states include the sale of a controlling interest of common stock in the definition of a change in control requiring approval, but their thresholds for determining a change in control vary widely. The standards of the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education provide that an institution undergoes a change in control if there is a transfer of 50% or more of its voting stock over a five-year period. In our case, we believe the five-year period to apply this standard would begin after our prior change in control in February 2004. A change in control under the definition of one of the other state agencies that regulate us might require us to obtain approval of the change in control in order to maintain our authorization to operate in that state, and in some cases such states could require us to obtain advance approval of the change in control.
 
Under Department of Education regulations, an institution that undergoes a change in control loses its eligibility to participate in the Title IV programs and must apply to the Department of Education in order to reestablish such eligibility. If an institution files the required application and follows other procedures, the Department of Education may temporarily certify the institution on a provisional basis following the change in control, so that the institution’s students retain access to Title IV program funds until the Department of Education completes its full review. In addition, the Department of Education will extend such temporary provisional certification if the institution timely files other required materials, including the approval of the change in control by its state authorizing agency and accrediting commission and an audited balance sheet showing the financial condition of the institution or its parent corporation as of the date of the change in control. If the institution fails to meet any of these application and other deadlines, its certification will expire and its students will not be eligible to receive Title IV program funds until the Department of Education completes its full review, which commonly takes several months and may take longer. If the Department of Education approves the application after a change in control, it will certify the institution on a provisional basis for a period of up to approximately three years.
 
For corporations that are neither publicly traded nor closely held, such as us prior to this offering, Department of Education regulations describe some transactions that constitute a change in control, including the transfer of a controlling interest in the voting stock of the corporation or its parent corporation. For such a corporation, the Department of Education will generally find that a transaction results in a change in control if a person acquires ownership or control of 25% or more of the outstanding voting stock and control of the corporation, or a person who owns or controls 25% or more of the outstanding voting stock and controls the corporation ceases to own or control at least 25% of the outstanding voting stock or ceases to control the corporation. With respect to this offering, the Richardson family will continue to own or control more than 25% of the outstanding voting stock of the corporation following the offering.
 
We will notify or seek confirmation from the Department of Education, the Higher Learning Commission, the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education, and other state education agencies and accrediting commissions, as we believe necessary, that this offering will not constitute a change in control under their respective standards. We do not expect that this offering will result in a change in control for any of those agencies, or that any of those agencies will require us to obtain their approval in connection with this offering. If any of those agencies deemed this offering to be a change in control, we would have to apply for and obtain approval from that agency, in some cases in advance of this offering, according to its procedures. In addition, if the Department of Education deemed this offering to be a change in control, the Department of Education would apply a different set of financial tests to determine our financial responsibility in conjunction with its review and approval of the change in control. We would be required to submit a same-day audited balance sheet reflecting our financial condition immediately following the offering. Our same-day balance sheet would have to demonstrate an “acid test” ratio of at least 1:1, calculated by adding cash and cash


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equivalents to current accounts receivable and dividing the sum by total current liabilities (and excluding all unsecured or uncollateralized related party receivables). The same-day balance sheet would also have to demonstrate at least one dollar of positive tangible net worth. If we did not satisfy either of these requirements, the Department of Education could condition our continued certification for participation in the Title IV programs on our agreement to post a letter of credit in favor of the Department of Education and our acceptance of additional monitoring requirements.
 
A change in control also could occur as a result of future transactions in which we are involved following the consummation of this offering. Some corporate reorganizations and some changes in the board of directors are examples of such transactions. In addition, Department of Education regulations provide that a change in control occurs for a publicly traded corporation, which we will be after this offering, if either: (i) there is an event that would obligate the corporation to file a Current Report on Form 8-K with the SEC disclosing a change in control, or (ii) the corporation has a stockholder that owns at least 25% of the total outstanding voting stock of the corporation and is the largest stockholder of the corporation, and that stockholder ceases to own at least 25% of such stock or ceases to be the largest stockholder. These standards are subject to interpretation by the Department of Education. A significant purchase or disposition of our voting stock in the future, including a disposition of voting stock by the Richardson family, could be determined by the Department of Education to be a change in control under this standard. The potential adverse effects of a change in control could influence future decisions by us and our stockholders regarding the sale, purchase, transfer, issuance or redemption of our stock. In addition, the adverse regulatory effect of a change in control also could discourage bids for shares of our common stock and could have an adverse effect on the market price of our common stock.
 
Additional state regulation.  Most state education agencies impose regulatory requirements on educational institutions operating within their boundaries. Some states have sought to assert jurisdiction over out-of-state educational institutions offering online degree programs that have no physical location or other presence in the state but that have some activity in the state, such as enrolling or offering educational services to students who reside in the state, employing faculty who reside in the state, or advertising to or recruiting prospective students in the state. State regulatory requirements for online education vary among the states, are not well developed in many states, are imprecise or unclear in some states, and can change frequently. In addition to Arizona, we have determined that our activities in certain states constitute a presence requiring licensure or authorization under the requirements of the state education agency in those states, and in other states we have obtained approvals as we have determined necessary in connection with our marketing and recruiting activities. We review the licensure requirements of other states when appropriate to determine whether our activities in those states constitute a presence or otherwise require licensure or authorization by the respective state education agencies. Because we enroll students from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, we expect we will have to seek licensure or authorization in additional states in the future. If we fail to comply with state licensing or authorization requirements for any state, we may be subject to the loss of state licensure or authorization by that state, or be subject to other sanctions, including restrictions on our activities in that state, fines, and penalties. The loss of licensure or authorization in a state other than Arizona could prohibit us from recruiting prospective students or offering services to current students in that state, which could significantly reduce our enrollments.


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MANAGEMENT
 
Executive Officers and Directors
 
The following table sets forth information regarding our executive officers, directors, and director-nominees.
 
             
Name
 
Age
 
Position
 
Brent D. Richardson
    46     Chief Executive Officer and Director
John E. Crowley
    52     Chief Operating Officer
Christopher C. Richardson
    35     General Counsel and Director
Timothy R. Fischer
    59     Chief Financial Officer
Michael S. Lacrosse
    53     Chief Information Officer
Dr. Kathy Player
    45     Provost and Chief Academic Officer
Chad N. Heath
    33     Director
D. Mark Dorman
    47     Director
David J. Johnson
    60     Director-Nominee
Jack A. Henry
    64     Director-Nominee
 
Brent D. Richardson has been serving as our Chief Executive Officer and director since 2004. From 2000 to 2004, Mr. Richardson served as Chief Executive Officer of Masters Online, LLC, a company that provided online educational programs and marketing services to several regionally and nationally accredited universities. Prior to 2000, Mr. Richardson served as Director of Sales and Marketing and later General Manager of the Educational Division of Private Networks, a company that produced customized distance learning curricula for the healthcare and automotive industries. Mr. Richardson has over 20 years of experience in the education industry. Mr. Richardson earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from Eastern Illinois University. Brent Richardson and Chris Richardson are brothers.
 
John E. Crowley has been serving as our Chief Operating Officer since 2004. Prior to 2004, Mr. Crowley served as the President of Educational Resources, a national distributor of educational software, technology solutions, and related services, and as President of Youth In Motion, Inc., a distributor of educational materials. Mr. Crowley earned his Bachelor of Finance degree and Master of Business Administration degree from Western New England College.
 
Christopher C. Richardson has been serving as our General Counsel since 2007 and as a director since 2004. From 2004 to 2007, Mr. Richardson served as legal counsel in our Office of General Counsel. Prior to 2004, Mr. Richardson served as the Chief Operating Officer for Masters Online, LLC, a company that provided online educational programs and marketing services to several regionally and nationally accredited universities. Mr. Richardson earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Brigham Young University, and Juris Doctor from the University of Arizona College of Law, where he graduated summa cum laude. Brent Richardson and Chris Richardson are brothers.
 
Timothy R. Fischer has been serving as our Chief Financial Officer since 2005. Prior to 2005, Mr. Fischer served as an independent management and financial consultant to both public and private companies in the Phoenix, Arizona area. Mr. Fischer is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and is licensed as a certified public accountant by the New Mexico State Board of Public Accountancy. Mr. Fischer earned his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Eastern New Mexico University.
 
Michael S. Lacrosse has been serving as our Chief Information Officer since August 2006. From February 2001 to August 2006, Mr. Lacrosse served as Chief Information Officer of Trax Technology, a global transportation management firm, and 21st Century Learning, an educational technology company which provides supplemental curriculum to K-12 students, professional development opportunities for teachers and administrators, as well as programs for parents.


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Dr. Kathy Player has been serving as our Provost and Chief Academic Officer since 2007. From 1998 to 2007, Dr. Player served in several other leadership roles at Grand Canyon University, including most recently as Dean of the Ken Blanchard College of Business. Dr. Player earned her Doctorate of Education degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Sarasota, a Master of Business Administration degree and a Master of Science degree in Nursing Leadership from Grand Canyon University, a Master of Science degree in Counseling from Nova Southeastern University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from St. Joseph’s College.
 
Chad N. Heath has been serving as a director of Grand Canyon University since 2005. Mr. Heath is a managing director of Endeavour Capital, a private equity firm based in Portland, Oregon that currently manages over $925 million in equity capital. Prior to joining Endeavour Capital, Mr. Heath served as a principal at Charterhouse Group International, a New York-based private equity firm focused on middle-market transactions. Prior to Charterhouse, Mr. Heath worked in the investment banking division of Merrill Lynch. Mr. Heath currently sits on the board of directors of Barrett-Jackson Holdings, LLC (dba: Barrett-Jackson Auction Company) and Skagit Northwest Holdings, Inc. (dba: Dri-Eaz Products). Mr. Heath received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree, magna cum laude, from Georgetown University.
 
D. Mark Dorman has been serving as a director of Grand Canyon University since 2005. Mr. Dorman is a managing director of Endeavour Capital. Prior to joining Endeavour Capital, Mr. Dorman served as an investment banker at Green Manning & Bunch, a Denver-based investment banking firm focused on merger and acquisition transactions and advisory work for middle-market clients across the West. He also served in the investment banking groups of Boettcher & Company and Morgan Stanley. Mr. Dorman currently sits on the boards of directors of PSI Services Holding Inc. (dba: Policy Studies); SpeeCo, Inc.; Skagit Northwest Holdings, Inc. (dba: Dri-Eaz Products); and Barrett-Jackson Holdings, LLC (dba: Barrett-Jackson Auction Company). Mr. Dorman received a Bachelor of Science degree from Lewis & Clark College and a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School.
 
David J. Johnson has been nominated and has agreed to serve as a member of our board of directors effective upon the closing of the offering. From 1997 to 2006, Mr. Johnson served as Chief Executive Officer and chairman of the board of KinderCare Learning Centers, Inc., a for-profit provider of early childhood education and care services, and from 1991 to 1996, he served as President, Chief Executive Officer, and chairman of the board of Red Lion Hotels, Inc., a hotel company, each of which were portfolio companies of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. Prior to that time, Mr. Johnson served as a general partner of Hellman & Friedman, a private equity investment firm, from 1989 to 1991, as President, Chief Operating Officer and director of Dillingham Holdings, a diversified company, from 1986 to 1988, and as President and Chief Executive Officer of Cal Gas Corporation, a principal subsidiary of Dillingham Holdings, which was also a portfolio company of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., from 1984 to 1987.
 
Jack A. Henry has been nominated and has agreed to serve as a member of our board of directors effective upon the closing of the offering. Mr. Henry began his career with Arthur Andersen in 1966, and in 2000 retired as the managing partner of the Phoenix office. In 2000, Mr. Henry formed Sierra Blanca Ventures LLC, a private investment and advisory firm. He currently serves on the boards of directors of White Electronics Design Corporation and Point Blank Solutions, both of which are public reporting companies, and several other private companies. Mr. Henry previously served on the boards of directors of Simula, Inc., SOS Staffing Services, Inc., Vodavi Technology, Inc., Tickets.com, and VistaCare, Inc., all public reporting companies. Mr. Henry currently serves as President of the Arizona Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors. Mr. Henry holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan.
 
Other than Brent Richardson and Chris Richardson, who are brothers, there are no family relationships among any of our directors or executive officers.
 
Board Composition
 
Our board of directors currently consists of four persons, including two independent directors, Messrs. Heath and Dorman. Effective upon consummation of this offering, our board will consist of at least


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six directors, our four current directors and our two director-nominees, four of whom will be independent. At each annual meeting, our stockholders elect our full board of directors. Directors may be removed at any time for cause by the affirmative vote of the holders of a majority of the voting power then entitled to vote.
 
Board Committees
 
Our board of directors directs the management of our business and affairs, as provided by Delaware law, and conducts its business through meetings of the board of directors. Effective upon the closing of this offering, our board of directors will establish three standing committees: an audit committee; a compensation committee; and a nominating and governance committee. In addition, from time to time, special committees may be established under the direction of the board of directors when necessary to address specific issues. The composition of the board committees will comply, when required, with the applicable rules of Nasdaq and applicable law. Our board of directors will adopt a written charter for each of the standing committees. These charters will be available on our website following the completion of the offering.
 
Audit Committee.  Our audit committee will be comprised solely of “independent” directors as defined under and required by the rules of Nasdaq and the federal securities laws. Our audit committee will be directly responsible for, among other things, the appointment, compensation, retention, and oversight of our independent registered public accounting firm. The oversight includes reviewing the plans and results of the audit engagement with the firm, approving any additional professional services provided by the firm and reviewing the independence of the firm. Commencing with our first report on internal controls over financial reporting, the committee will be responsible for discussing the effectiveness of the internal controls over financial reporting with the firm and relevant financial management.
 
Compensation Committee.  Our compensation committee will consist solely of “independent” directors as defined under and required by the rules of Nasdaq, “non-employee directors” under Section 16 of the Exchange Act, and “outside directors” for purposes of Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the Code. The compensation committee will be responsible for, among other things, supervising and reviewing our affairs as they relate to the compensation and benefits of our executive officers. In carrying out these responsibilities, the compensation committee will review all components of executive compensation for consistency with our compensation philosophy and with the interests of our stockholders.
 
Nominating and Governance Committee.  Our nominating and governance committee will consist solely of “independent” directors as defined under and required by the rules of Nasdaq. The nominating and governance committee will be responsible for, among other things, identifying individuals qualified to become board members; selecting, or recommending to the board, director nominees for each election of directors; developing and recommending to the board criteria for selecting qualified director candidates; considering committee member qualifications, appointment and removal; recommending corporate governance principles, codes of conduct and compliance mechanisms; and providing oversight in the evaluation of the board and each committee.
 
Compensation Committee Interlocks and Insider Participation
 
There are no interlocking relationships requiring disclosure under the applicable rules promulgated under the U.S. federal securities laws.
 
Limitation of Liability and Indemnification
 
For information concerning limitation of liability and indemnification applicable to our directors, executive officers and, in certain cases, employees, please see “Description of Capital Stock” located elsewhere in this prospectus.


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COMPENSATION DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS
 
The following discussion and analysis should be read in conjunction with “Compensation of Named Executive Officers” and the related tables that are presented immediately below.
 
Overview
 
The purpose of this compensation discussion and analysis is to provide information about each material element of compensation that we pay or award to, or that is earned by, our named executive officers, who consist of our principal executive officer, principal financial officer, and our three other most highly compensated executive officers. For our 2007 fiscal year, our named executive officers were:
 
  •  Brent D. Richardson, our Chief Executive Officer;
 
  •  John E. Crowley, our Chief Operating Officer;
 
  •  Christopher C. Richardson, our General Counsel;
 
  •  Timothy R. Fischer, our Chief Financial Officer; and
 
  •  Michael S. Lacrosse, our Chief Information Officer.
 
This compensation discussion and analysis addresses and explains the compensation practices we followed in 2007, the numerical and related information contained in the summary compensation and related tables presented below, and actions we have taken regarding executive compensation since the end of our 2007 fiscal year.
 
Compensation Determinations
 
Prior to this offering, we have been a private company with a relatively small number of stockholders, including our lead outside investor, Endeavour Capital, and we have not been subject to exchange listing requirements requiring us to have a majority independent board or to exchange or SEC rules relating to the formation and functioning of board committees, including audit, nominating, and compensation committees. As such, most, if not all, of our compensation policies, and determinations applicable to our named executive officers, have been the product of negotiation between our named executive officers and Endeavour Capital. For additional information regarding the compensation committee of our board of directors that will oversee our compensation program following the completion of this offering, please see “Board Committees” above.
 
Objectives of Compensation Programs
 
We pay our executive officers based on business performance and individual performance, and, in setting compensation levels, we take into consideration the marketplace for the individuals that we wish to attract, retain, and motivate, our past practices and our current and anticipated future needs, and the relative skills and experience of each individual executive. To date, we have not utilized the services of a compensation consultant and have not engaged in any formal benchmarking when making policy-level or individual compensation determinations. Rather, compensation decisions have been made based on the knowledge of the market possessed by our board of directors, as supplemented by market knowledge of Endeavour Capital and our human resources department, and as negotiated with our named executive officers.
 
Compensation philosophy.  Under our compensation philosophy, a named executive officer’s total compensation will vary based on our overall performance and with the particular named executive officer’s personal performance and contribution to overall results. This philosophy generally applies to all of our employees, with a more significant level of variability and compensation at risk depending upon an employee’s function and level of responsibility. Our overall goals in implementing this philosophy are to attract, motivate, and retain highly qualified individuals responsible for guiding us and creating value for our investors.


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Compensation objectives.  We believe that the compensation program we follow helps us achieve the following objectives:
 
  •  Compensation should be related to performance.  We believe that the performance-based portion of an individual’s total compensation should increase as the individual’s business responsibilities increase. Thus, a material portion of executive compensation should be linked to our and the individual’s performance, which also serves to align the named executive officers’ interests with those of our investors.
 
  •  Compensation should be competitive and cost effective. We believe that our compensation programs should foster an innovative, high integrity, and performance-oriented culture that serves to attract, motivate, and retain executives and other key employees with the appropriate skill sets to lead us through expected future growth in a dynamic and competitive environment. Accordingly, we should provide compensation in amounts necessary to achieve these goals and which is of fair value relative to other positions in Grand Canyon University.
 
Company compensation policies.  A named executive officer’s total in-service compensation consists of base salary, a cash bonus, and limited perquisites. With regard to these components, we have in the past adhered to the following compensation policies:
 
  •  Founders with significant equity stakes require limited incentives. As founders of our company, Brent Richardson and Chris Richardson have significant equity ownership in Grand Canyon University. We believe that the Richardons’ ownership stake provides a level of motivation that would not be appreciably enhanced through material cash bonus opportunities or the grant of further equity incentives. Accordingly, in 2007, the Richardsons were compensated solely through base salary and limited perquisites.
 
  •  Base salaries should be the largest component of compensation. Our compensation programs should reflect base salaries as being compensation for the named executive officers to perform the essential elements of their respective jobs, and cash bonuses as a reward for superior company and individual performance. In this regard, base salary should be the largest component of cash compensation, with cash bonuses being significantly less than base salaries.
 
  •  Compensation should be paid in cash.  As a private company whose equity securities were not publicly traded prior to completion of this offering, we believed that the true compensatory value to be accorded to equity-based incentives would be difficult for both us and a recipient to determine. Accordingly, we have not in the past utilized equity-based incentives and have instead focused entirely on providing the opportunity for our named executive officers to earn total cash compensation at levels that enable us to achieve the motivation and retention goals described above.
 
We believe our policies have helped us achieve our compensation objectives of motivation and retention, as evidenced by the limited turnover in our executive officer ranks over the past several years.
 
Compensation Programs Design and Elements of Compensation
 
We choose to pay each element of compensation to further the objectives of our compensation program, which, as noted, includes the need to attract, retain, and reward key leaders critical to our success by providing competitive total compensation.
 
Elements of In-Service Compensation.  For our 2007 fiscal year, our executive compensation mix included base salary, discretionary cash bonuses, and other benefits generally available to all employees. Perquisites were not a significant component of executive compensation. We generally determine the nature and amount of each element of compensation as follows:
 
  •  Base salary.  We typically agree upon a base salary with a named executive officer at the time of initial employment, which may or may not be reflected in an employment agreement. The amount of base salary agreed upon, which is not at risk, reflects our views as to the individual executive’s


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  past experience, future potential, knowledge, scope of anticipated responsibilities, skills, expertise, and potential to add value through performance, as well as competitive industry salary practices. Although minimum base salaries for Brent Richardson, John Crowley, and Chris Richardson are set by their respective employment agreements, as described below, we review executive salaries annually and may adjust them based on an evaluation of the company’s performance for the year and the performance of the functional area(s) under an executive’s scope of responsibility. We also consider general market knowledge, as supplemented by the general market knowledge of our investors and human resources department, in making any adjustments. In some cases, competitive market information may be difficult to obtain due to the unique duties and responsibilities of a particular position. In those instances, we consider qualitative criteria, such as education and experience requirements, complexity, and scope or impact of the position compared to other executive positions internally.
 
  •  Bonuses.  We provide cash bonuses, which are at-risk, to recognize and reward our named executive officers with cash payments above base salary based on our success in a given year. In the past, we have awarded bonus on a discretionary basis, and we have not implemented or followed a formal bonus plan tied to specific financial and non-financial objectives.
 
  •  Perquisites.  We seek to compensate our named executive officers at levels that eliminate the need for perquisites and enable each individual officer to provide for his or her own needs. Accordingly, in 2007, the only perquisite we provided to any of our named executive officers was allowing Brent Richardson to utilize a car leased by Grand Canyon University.
 
  •  Other.  We offer other employee benefits to key executives for the purpose of meeting current and future health and security needs for the executives and their families. These benefits, which we generally offer to all eligible employees, include medical, dental, and life insurance benefits; short-term disability pay; long-term disability insurance; flexible spending accounts for medical expense reimbursements; and a 401(k) retirement savings plan. The 401(k) retirement savings plan is a defined contribution plan under Section 401(a) of the Code. Employees may make pre-tax contributions into the plan, expressed as a percentage of compensation, up to prescribed IRS annual limits.
 
Elements of Post-Termination Compensation and Benefits.  We are a party to written agreements that provide certain of our named executive officers with post-termination salary and benefit continuation while the officer searches for new employment. We believe that the amounts of these payments and benefits and the periods of time during which they would be provided are fair and reasonable, and we have not historically taken into account any amounts that may be received by a named executive officer following termination when establishing current compensation levels. The elements of post-termination compensation that we provide consist of the following:
 
  •  Salary continuation.  Each of Brent Richardson, John Crowley, and Chris Richardson has a written employment agreement under which he will receive continuing salary payments for a stated period of time following termination of employment, unless such termination constitutes termination for cause. Under these agreements, Brent Richardson would continue to receive his then-current base salary for a period of 12 months following termination of employment, while John Crowley and Chris Richardson would receive such salary continuation for a period of six months following termination of employment, subject to an option by us to extend the period to 12 months if we seek to extend their post-termination non-compete and related covenants.
 
  •  Benefits continuation.  Under their agreements, Brent Richardson, John Crowley, and Chris Richardson would also receive continuation of benefits during the applicable salary continuation period.


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Impact of Performance on Compensation
 
In the past, we have reviewed overall company and individual performance in connection with our review of named executive officer compensation.
 
Company performance.  In reviewing our performance, we focus principally on the achievement of net revenue and Adjusted EBITDA levels, and on maintaining regulatory compliance. Adjusted EBITDA is defined as net income (loss) plus interest expense net of interest income, income tax expense (benefit), and depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), as adjusted for (i) royalty payments incurred pursuant to an agreement with our former owner that has been terminated as of April 15, 2008, as discussed herein and in Note 2 to our financial statements included with this prospectus and (ii) management fees that are no longer paid or that will no longer be payable following completion of this offering. We focus on Adjusted EBITDA in connection with our compensation decisions because we believe that it provides useful information regarding our operating performance and executive performance as it does not give effect to items that management does not consider to be reflective of our core operating performance. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis — Non-GAAP Discussion.” As such, we believe it is fair and reasonable to our executives to assess their individual performance on the same basis as our performance is assessed by our board of directors and investors.
 
Individual performance.  In reviewing individual performance, we also look at an executive’s achievement of non-financial objectives that, with respect to a given named executive officer, may include achieving objectives related to some or all of the following:
 
  •  enrollment growth;
 
  •  program development and expansion; and
 
  •  regulatory compliance.
 
Conclusion
 
We believe that the compensation amounts paid to our named executive officers for their service in 2007 were reasonable and appropriate and in our best interests.
 
Actions Taken in Current Fiscal Year
 
As discussed above, we have historically relied upon base salaries and cash bonuses to attract, motivate and retain our named executive officers. Effective upon the completion of this offering, we intend to adopt a 2008 Equity Incentive Plan, or our Incentive Plan, and a 2008 Employee Stock Purchase Plan, or our ESPP, to provide our directors, executive officers, and other employees with additional incentives by allowing them to acquire an ownership interest in our business and, as a result, encouraging them to contribute to our success. These plans, the intended terms of which are described below, will be effective upon the approval of our stockholders, which will occur immediately prior to the closing of the offering.
 
Incentive Plan.  We will initially authorize and reserve a total of          shares of our common stock for issuance under the Incentive Plan. This reserve will automatically increase on a cumulative basis on January 1, 2009 and each subsequent anniversary through 2017, by an amount equal to the smaller of (a)     % of the number of shares of common stock issued and outstanding on the immediately preceding December 31, or (b) a lesser amount determined by our board of directors. We will make appropriate adjustments in the number of authorized shares and other numerical limits in the Incentive Plan and in outstanding awards to prevent dilution or enlargement of participants’ rights in the event of a stock split or other change in our capital structure. Shares subject to awards that expire or are cancelled or forfeited will again become available for issuance under the Incentive Plan. The shares available will not be reduced by awards settled in cash or by shares withheld to satisfy tax withholding obligations. Only the net number of shares issued upon the exercise of stock appreciation rights or options exercised by means of a net exercise or by tender of previously owned shares will be deducted from the shares available under the Incentive Plan.


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We may grant awards under the Incentive Plan to our employees, officers, directors, or consultants, or those of any future parent or subsidiary corporation or other affiliated entity. While we may grant incentive stock options only to employees, we may grant nonstatutory stock options, stock appreciation rights, restricted stock purchase rights or bonuses, restricted stock units, performance shares, performance units, and cash-based awards or other stock-based awards to any eligible participant.
 
Only members of the board of directors who are not employees at the time of grant will be eligible to participate in the non-employee director awards component of the Incentive Plan. The board of directors or the compensation committee will set the amount and type of non-employee director awards to be awarded on a periodic, non-discriminatory basis. Non-employee director awards may be granted in the form of nonstatutory stock options, stock appreciation rights, restricted stock awards and restricted stock unit awards.
 
In the event of a change in control, as described in the Incentive Plan, the acquiring or successor entity may assume or continue all or any awards outstanding under the Incentive Plan or substitute substantially equivalent awards. Any awards that are not assumed or continued in connection with a change in control or are not exercised or settled prior to the change in control will terminate effective as of the time of the change in control. The compensation committee may provide for the acceleration of vesting of any or all outstanding awards upon such terms and to such extent as it determines, except that the vesting of all non-employee director awards will automatically be accelerated in full. The Incentive Plan also authorizes the compensation committee, in its discretion and without the consent of any participant, to cancel each or any outstanding award denominated in shares upon a change in control in exchange for a payment to the participant with respect to each share subject to the cancelled award of an amount equal to the excess of the consideration to be paid per share of common stock in the change in control transaction over the exercise price per share, if any, under the award.
 
In conjunction with adoption of the Incentive Plan, our board of directors will approve a comprehensive policy relating to the granting of stock options and other equity-based awards. Under this policy:
 
  •  all stock option grants, restricted stock awards, and other equity based awards, which we collectively refer to as stock-based grants, must be approved by the compensation committee;
 
  •  all stock-based grants will be approved at formal meetings (including telephonic) of the compensation committee;
 
  •  the date for determining the strike price and similar measurements will be the date of the meeting (or a date shortly after the meeting) or, in the case of an employee, director, or consultant not yet hired, appointed, or retained, respectively, the subsequent date of hire, appointment, or retention, as the case may be;
 
  •  if our board of directors implements an annual stock-based grant, the grant will be approved at a regularly scheduled meeting of the compensation committee during the first part of the year, but after the annual earnings release, if any. We believe that coordinating any annual award grant after our annual earnings release, if any, will generally result in this grant being made at a time when the public is in possession of all material information about us;
 
  •  the annual grant to executive officers and directors, if any, will occur at the same time as the annual grant to other employees;
 
  •  we will not intentionally grant stock-based awards before the anticipated announcement of materially favorable news or intentionally delay the grant of stock-based awards until after the announcement of materially unfavorable news; and
 
  •  the compensation committee will approve stock-based grants only for persons specifically identified at the meeting by management.
 
ESPP.  We will initially authorize and reserve a total of          shares of our common stock for sale under the ESPP. In addition, the ESPP will provide for an automatic annual increase in the number of shares available for issuance under the plan on January 1 of each year beginning in 2009 and continuing through and including January 1, 2017 equal to the lesser of (a)     % of our then issued and outstanding shares of


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common stock on the immediately preceding December 31, (b) shares or (c) a number of shares as our board of directors may determine. We will make appropriate adjustments in the number of authorized shares and in outstanding purchase rights to prevent dilution or enlargement of participants’ rights in the event of a stock split or other change in our capital structure. Shares subject to purchase rights which expire or are canceled will again become available for issuance under the ESPP.
 
Our employees, and the employees of any future parent or subsidiary corporation or other affiliated entity, will be eligible to participate in the ESPP if they are customarily employed by us, or such other entity, if applicable, for more than 20 hours per week and more than five months in any calendar year. However, an employee may not be granted a right to purchase stock under the ESPP if: (a) the employee immediately after such grant would own stock possessing 5% or more of the total combined voting power or value of all classes of our capital stock, or (b) the employee’s rights to purchase stock under the ESPP and Incentive Plan would accrue at a rate that exceeds $25,000 in value for each calendar year of participation in such plans.
 
The ESPP will be implemented through a series of sequential offering periods, generally three months in duration beginning on the first trading days of February, May, August, and November each year. However, the administrator may establish an offering period to commence on the effective date of the ESPP that will end on September 30, 2008. The administrator is authorized to establish additional or alternative sequential or overlapping offering periods and offering periods having a different duration or different starting or ending dates, provided that no offering period may have a duration exceeding 27 months.
 
Amounts accumulated for each participant, generally through payroll deductions, will be credited toward the purchase of shares of our common stock at the end of each offering period at a price generally equal to 95% of the fair market value of our common stock on the purchase date. Prior to commencement of an offering period, the administrator will be authorized to change the purchase price discount for that offering period, but the purchase price may not be less than 85% of the lower of the fair market value of our common stock at the beginning of the offering period or at the end of the offering period.
 
The maximum number of shares a participant may purchase in any three-month offering period will be the lesser of (a) that number of shares determined by multiplying (i)           shares by (ii) the number of months (rounded to the nearest whole month) in the offering period and rounding to the nearest whole share, or (b) that number of whole shares determined by dividing (i) the product of $      and the number of months (rounded to the nearest whole month) in the offering period and rounding to the nearest whole dollar by (ii) the fair market value of a share of our common stock at the beginning of the offering period. Prior to the beginning of any offering period, the administrator may alter the maximum number of shares that may be purchased by any participant during the offering period or specify a maximum aggregate number of shares that may be purchased by all participants in the offering period. If insufficient shares remain available under the plan to permit all participants to purchase the number of shares to which they would otherwise be entitled, the administrator will make a pro rata allocation of the available shares. Any amounts withheld from participants’ compensation in excess of the amounts used to purchase shares will be refunded.
 
In the event of a change in control, an acquiring or successor corporation may assume our rights and obligations under the ESPP. If the acquiring or successor corporation does not assume such rights and obligations, then the purchase date of the offering periods then in progress will be accelerated to a date prior to the change in control, and the number of shares of stock subject to outstanding purchase rights will not be adjusted.


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Compensation of Named Executive Officers
 
The following table sets forth the total compensation earned for services rendered during fiscal year 2007 by our named executive officers.
 
2007 SUMMARY COMPENSATION TABLE
 
                                         
                      All Other
       
Name and Position
  Year     Salary(1)     Bonus(2)     Compensation     Total  
 
Brent D. Richardson
    2007     $ 292,019     $     $ 15,312 (3)   $ 307,331  
Chief Executive Officer
                                       
John E. Crowley
    2007       292,019       14,000             306,019  
Chief Operating Officer
                                       
Christopher C. Richardson
    2007       292,019                   292,019  
General Counsel
                                       
Timothy R. Fischer
    2007       194,500       25,000             219,500  
Chief Financial Officer
                                       
Michael S. Lacrosse
    2007       160,385       25,000             185,385  
Chief Information Officer
                                       
 
 
(1) For Brent Richardson, John Crowley, and Chris Richardson, represents the minimum base salary payable under their respective employment agreements of $250,000, as adjusted for fiscal year 2007 by the board of directors.
 
(2) Represents cash bonuses awarded to the recipients by the board of directors on a discretionary basis.
 
(3) Represents the value of lease payments made by Grand Canyon University on a vehicle utilized by Mr. Richardson.
 
Employment Agreements
 
We have entered into an employment agreement with each of Brent D. Richardson, John E. Crowley, and Christopher C. Richardson. Our board of directors approved the terms of each agreement. The material terms of the agreements are summarized below.
 
Agreement with Brent D. Richardson.  Effective August 24, 2005, we and Brent Richardson entered into an employment agreement. The agreement remains in effect until Mr. Richardson’s death, disability, separation from Grand Canyon as a result of a determination of the board of directors that separation is in our best interests, or a voluntary resignation by Mr. Richardson. The agreement provides for a minimum base salary of $250,000 per year, which may be increased in the discretion of the board of directors. Mr. Richardson may also receive a discretionary performance bonus, which may be awarded by the board of directors based upon the achievement of performance, budgetary, or other objectives that may, from time to time, be set by the board of directors. Mr. Richardson is also entitled to insurance, vacation, holidays, and other benefits that are consistent with those that we provide to our practices for our employees generally.
 
The agreement provides for certain benefits upon separation, as further described in the “Severance and Change of Control Payments” section below. The agreement also contains customary covenants requiring Mr. Richardson to maintain the confidentiality of information obtained in his capacity as an owner and member of our senior management team and prohibiting Mr. Richardson from, for a period of 24 months following any separation event, (i) competing with us, (ii) soliciting funds on behalf of or for the benefit of another regionally accredited higher education institution, (iii) soliciting current or prospective students, (iv) inducing or attempting to induce our employees to leave employment with us, and (v) interfering with our business relationships generally. Mr. Richardson is also prohibited from making any disparaging remarks about us.
 
Agreement with John E. Crowley.  Effective August 24, 2005, we and John Crowley entered into an employment agreement. The agreement remains in effect until Mr. Crowley’s death, disability, separation from us as a result of a determination of the board of directors that separation is in our best interests, or a voluntary


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resignation by Mr. Crowley. The agreement provides for a minimum base salary of $250,000 per year, which may be increased in the discretion of the board of directors. Mr. Crowley may also receive a discretionary performance bonus, which may be awarded by the board of directors based upon the achievement of performance, budgetary, or other objectives that may, from time to time, be set by the board of directors. Mr. Crowley is also entitled to insurance, vacation, holidays, and other benefits that are consistent with those that we provide to our practices for our employees generally. The agreement provides for certain benefits upon separation, as further described in the “Severance and Change of Control Payments” section below. The agreement also contains substantially similar covenants as those in the agreements with Brent Richardson, as described above.
 
Agreement with Christopher C. Richardson.  Effective August 24, 2005, we and Chris Richardson entered into an employment agreement. The agreement with Chris Richardson contains substantially the same terms as the agreement with John Crowley. The agreement also provides for certain benefits upon separation as further described in the “Severance and Change of Control Payments” section below.


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Severance and Change of Control Payments.  The employment agreements with Brent Richardson, John Crowley, and Chris Richardson entitle them to certain severance payments and other benefits in the event of certain types of terminations, which are summarized below. The table below reflects the amount of compensation to be paid to each of them in the event of termination of such executive’s employment. The amounts shown assume that such termination was effective as of December 31, 2007, and thus includes amounts earned through such time and are estimates of the amounts that would be paid out to the executives upon their termination. The actual amounts to be paid out can only be determined at the time of such executive’s separation from the company.
 
                     
Named Executive
                 
Officer   Triggering Event(1)(2)   Payment/Benefit   Material Conditions  
Potential Value(3)
 
 
Brent Richardson
  Separation by Mr. Richardson for “Good Reason” or termination by us without “Cause”   Continued payment of base salary and provision of benefits for 12 months following separation   Mr. Richardson must abide by the confidentiality, non-competition, non-solicitation and non-disparagement covenants discussed above for 24 months   $ 300,373  
                     
    Termination by us for “Cause,” death or disability of Mr. Richardson, separation by Mr. Richardson without “Good Reason,” or sale of Grand Canyon University   No severance payments, but Mr. Richardson will receive benefits as determined in accordance with the plans or programs providing for such benefits   See above     8,354  
                     
John Crowley
  Separation by Mr. Crowley for “Good Reason” or termination by us without “Cause”   Continued payment of base salary and provision of benefits for six months following separation, with the option by us to extend such payments (and related benefits) for up to 12 months following separation   Mr. Crowley must abide by the confidentiality, non-competition, non-solicitation and non-disparagement covenants discussed above for 12 months (subject to extension to 24 months)     295,004  
                     
    Termination by us for “Cause,” death or disability of Mr. Crowley, separation by Mr. Crowley without “Good Reason,” or sale of Grand Canyon University   No severance payments, but Mr. Crowley will receive benefits as determined in accordance with the plans or programs providing for such benefits   See above     2,985  
                     
Chris Richardson
  Separation by Mr. Richardson for “Good Reason” or termination by us without “Cause”   Continued payment of base salary and provision of benefits for six months following separation, with the option by us to extend such payments (and related benefits) for up to 12 months following separation   Mr. Richardson must abide by the confidentiality, non-competition, non-solicitation and non-disparagement covenants discussed above for 12 months (subject to extension to 24 months)     300,373  
                     
    Termination by us for “Cause,” death or disability of Mr. Richardson, separation by Mr. Richardson without “Good Reason,” or sale of Grand Canyon University   No severance payments, but Mr. Richardson will receive benefits as determined in accordance with the plans or programs providing for such benefits   See above     8,354  


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(1) “Good Reason” is generally defined in the employment agreements to include a resignation within 30 days after the occurrence of any one of the following: (a) the failure by us to pay amounts owed to the executive following 15 days prior written notice of such failure; (b) the assignment to the executive of duties materially inconsistent with the executive’s title or the failure to elect or reelect the executive to his position; or (c) a requirement by us that the executive perform services at a location that is more than 50 miles from our main campus.
 
(2) “Cause” is generally defined in the employment agreements to include: (a) the executive’s commission of a felony or crime involving moral turpitude, any other willful act or omission involving dishonesty or fraud with respect to us or our customers or suppliers, misappropriation of our funds or assets for personal use or engaging in conduct bringing substantial public disgrace or disrepute to us; (b) the executive’s neglect of duties following notice, gross misconduct in performance of duties or material and repeated failure to perform duties; (c) the executive’s engaging in conduct that constitutes cause for separation under applicable law, and (d) the executive’s breaching the confidentiality, non-competition, non-solicitation, and non-disparagement covenants applicable to him.
 
(3) Assumes that, in the case of Chris Richardson and John Crowley, we exercise our option to extend severance payments beyond the required six month period, as described in the table above. Also assumes health insurance premiums of $696.20 per month, $248.74 per month, and $696.20 per month for Brent Richardson, John Crowley, and Chris Richardson, respectively, over the periods indicated.
 
Compensation of Directors
 
To date, we have not paid our directors any compensation for their services in that capacity. We do reimburse our non-employee directors for all reasonable expenses incurred by them to attend board and committee meetings.
 
After the completion of this offering, we intend to pay our non-employee directors an annual cash retainer for their board and board committee service and a per meeting fee for each meeting of the board attended. We also intend to pay the members of our audit, compensation, and nominating and corporate governance committees an additional annual cash retainer, and the chairs of such committees an additional annual cash retainer. In addition, non-employee directors will be eligible to receive awards under our Incentive Plan. We will reimburse all directors for reasonable expenses incurred to attend our board and board committee meetings.
 
We also anticipate appointing Mr. David J. Johnson, one of our director-nominees, as our lead independent director and to provide him an annual cash retainer and equity award in addition to those received by board members generally.


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CERTAIN RELATIONSHIPS AND RELATED TRANSACTIONS
 
Policies and Procedures for Related Person Transactions
 
In connection with this offering, we intend to adopt a written code of business conduct and ethics, or code of conduct, effective as of the date of and applicable to transactions on or after the offering, pursuant to which our executive officers, directors, and principal stockholders, including their immediate family members and affiliates, will not be permitted to enter into a related person transaction with us without the prior consent of our audit committee, or other independent committee of our board of directors in the event it is inappropriate for our audit committee to review such transaction due to a conflict of interest. Any request for us to enter into a transaction with an executive officer, director, principal stockholder or any of such persons’ immediate family members or affiliates, in which the amount involved exceeds $120,000, will first be presented to our audit committee for review, consideration, and approval. All of our directors, executive officers, and employees will be required to report to our audit committee any such related person transaction. In approving or rejecting the proposed agreement, our audit committee shall consider the facts and circumstances available and deemed relevant to the audit committee, including, but not limited to, the risks, costs and benefits to us, the terms of the transaction, the availability of other sources for comparable services or products, and, if applicable, the impact on a director’s independence. Our audit committee shall approve only those agreements that, in light of known circumstances, are in, or are not inconsistent with, our best interests, as our audit committee determines in the good faith exercise of its discretion. Under the policy, if we should discover related person transactions that have not been approved, the audit committee will be notified and will determine the appropriate action, including ratification, rescission, or amendment of the transaction. This policy has not been and will not be applied to the transactions described below.
 
Stockholders Agreement
 
In connection with our conversion from a limited liability company to a corporation and the related investment in us by Endeavour Capital Fund IV, L.P. and certain of its affiliates, which we refer to as the Endeavour Entities, 220 GCU, L.P. and certain of its affiliates, and certain other investors on August 24, 2005, we entered into a stockholders agreement with the Endeavour Entities and certain other parties. The stockholders agreement, as amended, contains agreements among the parties with respect to the election of our directors and restrictions on the issuance or transfer of shares, including special corporate governance provisions. Each of our current directors was appointed pursuant to the terms of the stockholders agreement. Upon the completion of this offering, the stockholders agreement will terminate in accordance with its terms.
 
Investor Rights Agreement
 
In connection with the August 24, 2005 transaction referred to above, we also entered into an investor rights agreement with the Endeavour Entities, 220 GCU, L.P. and certain of its affiliates, and certain other named parties. The investor rights agreement, as amended, contains agreements among the parties with respect to registration rights, information rights and certain operating covenants that we must comply with during the term of the agreement. Upon the completion of this offering, the investor rights agreement will terminate with respect to the information rights and other covenants, but will remain in effect with respect to the registration rights provisions. See “Description of Capital Stock — Registration Rights” for a description of the registration rights that will remain in effect following the closing of this offering.
 
Voting Agreement
 
As discussed in “Regulation — Regulatory Standards that May Restrict Institutional Expansion or Other Changes — Change in Ownership Resulting in a Change in Control,” many states and accrediting commissions require institutions of higher education to report or obtain approval of certain changes in control and changes in other aspects of institutional organization or control. In connection with this offering, certain of our stockholders intend to enter into a proxy and voting agreement whereby such persons will grant to Brent D. Richardson, our chief executive officer and director, and Christopher C. Richardson, our general counsel and director, a five-year irrevocable proxy to exercise all voting authority with respect to all shares of our common


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stock held by such persons. As a result of the proxy and voting agreement, prior to this offering the Richardsons will have voting authority with respect to approximately 64.8% of our outstanding shares of capital stock. See “Beneficial Ownership of Common Stock.”
 
Endeavour Professional Services Agreement
 
In connection with the August 24, 2005 transaction referred to above, we entered into a professional services agreement with Endeavour Capital IV, LLC. Under the agreement, we engaged Endeavour Capital IV, LLC as a consultant to our board of directors on business and financial matters, including, without limitation, corporate strategy, budgeting, acquisition and divestiture strategies, and debt and equity financings. Under the agreement, we paid Endeavour Capital IV, LLC a one time fee of $340,667 upon execution of the agreement and agreed to pay Endeavour Capital IV, LLC a consulting fee of $250,000 per year thereafter, subject to annual increases as determined by the board of directors (not including those directors appointed by Endeavour) based on performance. In addition, we agreed to reimburse Endeavour Capital IV, LLC for reasonable legal, due diligence, travel and other out-of-pocket expenses, and to indemnify Endeavour Capital IV, LLC and its affiliates for any action or inaction related to the agreement, except as a result of their gross negligence or intentional misconduct. The fees paid by us to Endeavour Capital IV, LLC in 2005, 2006, and 2007 constituted less than 5% of Endeavour Capital IV, LLC’s consolidated gross revenues for each such year. The professional services agreement will terminate by its terms upon the closing of this offering.
 
Financing Transactions
 
The following summarizes sales by us of our capital stock to certain of our directors, executive officers, holders of more than 5% of our voting securities, and their affiliates and immediate family members in private placement financing transactions since 2005.
 
Series A Convertible Preferred Stock Issuance.  On March 31, 2005, we sold $14.0 million aggregate principal amount of notes to the Endeavour Entities. On August 24, 2005, we sold 5,953 shares of our newly designated Series A preferred stock at a purchase price of $3,233.67 per share, or $19.3 million in total gross proceeds, of which 4,948 shares were sold to the Endeavour Entities and 1,005 shares were sold to 220 GCU, L.P. A substantial portion of the purchase price paid by the Endeavour Entities was paid through the contributions to us of the notes that were previously issued to the Endeavour Entities. The general partner of the Endeavour Entities is Endeavour Capital IV, LLC, of which Mr. D. Mark Dorman and Mr. Chad N. Heath, two of our directors, are managing directors. Mr. Charles M. Preston III, one of our former directors, is an affiliate of 220 Management, LLC, which is the general partner of 220 GCU GP, LP, the general partner of 220 GCU, L.P.
 
Series B Convertible Preferred Stock Issuance.  On December 31, 2005, we issued 2,163 shares of our newly designated Series B preferred stock and received gross proceeds of approximately $7.0 million, or $3,236.25 per share, in the form of a stock subscription receivable. The receivable was subsequently paid in April 2006. Of these shares, 1,298 were sold to the Endeavour Entities and 865 were sold to Rich Crow Enterprises, LLC. Rich Crow Enterprises, LLC is a limited liability company whose members include Brent Richardson, our chief executive officer and a director, John Crowley, our chief operating officer, and Chris Richardson, our general counsel and a director. Later in 2006, the shares of Series B preferred stock sold to the Endeavour Entities were redeemed for cash at their stated repurchase price.
 
Series C Preferred Stock Issuance.  On December 18, 2007 and January 11, 2008, we sold an aggregate of 3,829 shares of our newly designated Series C preferred stock at a purchase price of $3,500.00 per share, or approximately $13.4 million in total gross proceeds, of which 1,675 shares were sold to the Endeavour Entities, 834 shares were sold to Rich Crow Enterprises, LLC, and 935 shares were sold to 220 GCU, LP and certain of its affiliates. The purchase price payable by Rich Crow Enterprises for its shares of Series C preferred stock was paid through the contribution to us of the 865 outstanding shares of Series B preferred stock it purchased in 2006.


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Special Distribution
 
We intend to declare a special distribution that will be paid promptly upon the completion of this offering to our stockholders of record as of          , 2008. The payment of the special distribution with the gross proceeds of this offering permits a return of capital to all of our stockholders of record as of the record date, and does so without significantly decreasing our capital resources or requiring these stockholders to sell their shares. The aggregate amount of the special distribution will be equal to     % of the gross proceeds received by us from the sale of stock in this offering. Assuming an initial public offering price of $      per share, which is the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, we estimate that the amount of the special distribution will be $      million, or $      per common share on an as-if converted basis.
 
Each $1.00 increase or decrease in the assumed public offering price of $      per share would increase or decrease, as applicable, the aggregate amount of the special distribution by $      million and the per share amount of the special distribution by $     , assuming the number of shares offered by us, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, remains the same. Similarly, any increase or decrease in the number of shares that we sell in the offering will increase or decrease the special distribution and our net proceeds in proportion to such increase or decrease, as applicable, multiplied by the offering price per share, with respect to our net proceeds, less underwriting discounts and commissions and offering expenses.
 
Of the estimated aggregate amount of the special distribution, $      million will be paid in respect of shares of our capital stock over which our directors and executive officers as a group are deemed to exercise sole or shared voting or investment power. These proceeds will be allocated among such group as set forth in the following table.
 
         
    Special Distribution  
 
Directors
       
Chad N. Heath(1)
  $    
D. Mark Dorman(1)
  $    
Executive Officers
       
Brent D. Richardson
  $    
John E. Crowley
  $    
Christopher C. Richardson
  $    
All directors and executive officers as a group
  $  
 
 
(1) Represents shares owned by Endeavour Capital Fund IV, L.P. and certain affiliated funds. D. Mark Dorman and Chad N. Heath, two of our directors, are managing directors of Endeavour Capital IV, LLC, the general partner of such funds.
 
Arrangement with Mind Streams
 
We are a party to an agreement with Mind Streams, LLC, which is owned and operated, in part, by Gail Richardson, father to Brent Richardson, our chief executive officer and a director, and Chris Richardson, our general counsel and a director. Pursuant to this agreement, Mind Streams identifies qualified applicants for admission to Grand Canyon University in return for which it is a paid a stated percentage of the net revenue (calculated as tuition actually received, less scholarships, refunds, and allowances) derived by us from those identified applicants that matriculate at Grand Canyon University. The term of the agreement runs through December 31, 2010, and can be terminated by either party upon 45 days’ prior written notice. We previously were previously a party to an agreement with 21st Century Learning, which was owned by Gail Richardson, Brent Richardson, and Chris Richardson, providing for a similar revenue sharing arrangement. This agreement was terminated in 2005 when we entered into the agreement with Mind Streams. For the years ended December 31, 2005, 2006 and 2007, we paid $2.8 million, $3.7 million and $4.3 million, respectively, to these parties pursuant to this arrangement for students enrolled and expenses reimbursed.


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Arrowhead Management
 
We previously had a non-cancelable operating lease agreement for administrative facilities with Arrowhead Holdings Management Co., LLC, which is owned by, among others, irrevocable trusts for the benefit of Brent Richardson and Chris Richardson. We paid approximately $0.2 million to Arrowhead for services and reimbursements during the year ended December 31, 2005.
 
Center for Educational Excellence
 
The Center for Educational Excellence, LLC was created to explore opportunities to promote and enhance the academic experience we offer. John Crowley, our chief operating officer, is a member of The Center for Educational Excellence, LLC. For the year ended December 31, 2007, we paid approximately $0.6 million of expenses incurred by The Center for Educational Excellence, LLC, of which $0.3 million was reimbursed to us.
 
Arrangement with Vergo Marketing
 
From time to time we obtain marketing services from Vergo Marketing, Inc., of which the sister-in-law of Brent Richardson, our chief executive officer, is a significant stockholder and chief executive officer. For the year ended December 31, 2007, we paid Vergo Marketing, Inc. $0.5 million for such services.
 
Youth in Motion Consulting Arrangement
 
Youth in Motion, Inc. is owned by John Crowley, our chief operating officer. For the years ended December 31, 2005, 2006, and 2007, we paid to Youth in Motion, Inc. $0.2 million, $0.1 million, and $0, respectively, for consulting services rendered.
 
Significant Ventures Consulting Agreement
 
Significant Ventures, LLC held approximately 9.3% of our common stock immediately prior to this offering. On January 8, 2004, we entered into a consulting agreement with Significant Ventures, Inc., predecessor to Significant Ventures, LLC. This consulting agreement terminated by its terms on December 31, 2006. For the years ended December 31, 2005, 2006, and 2007, we paid $0.1 million, $0.4 million, and $0, respectively, to Significant Ventures for services rendered and expenses reimbursed pursuant to this arrangement.
 
220 Consulting Agreement
 
On January 8, 2004, we entered into a consulting agreement with 220 Partners, LLC, which is affiliated with Charles M. Preston III, one of our former directors who is an affiliate of certain of our significant stockholders. This consulting agreement terminated by its terms on December 31, 2006. For the years ended December 31, 2005, 2006, and 2007, we paid $0.3 million, $0.3 million, and $0, respectively, to 220 Partners, LLC for services rendered and expenses reimbursed pursuant to this arrangement.


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BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP OF COMMON STOCK
 
The following table sets forth information regarding the beneficial ownership of our common stock as of April 30, 2008, and as adjusted to reflect the sale of common stock being offered in this offering, for:
 
  •  each person, or group of affiliated persons, known to us to own beneficially 5% or more of our outstanding common stock;
 
  •  each of our directors and director-nominees;
 
  •  each of our named executive officers; and
 
  •  all of our directors and named executive officers as a group.
 
The information in the following table has been presented in accordance with the rules of the SEC. Under SEC rules, beneficial ownership of a class of capital stock includes any shares of such class as to which a person, directly or indirectly, has or shares voting power or investment power and also any shares as to which a person has the right to acquire such voting or investment power within 60 days through the exercise of any stock option, warrant or other right. If two or more persons share voting power or investment power with respect to specific securities, each such person is deemed to be the beneficial owner of such securities. Except as we otherwise indicate below and under applicable community property laws, we believe that the beneficial owners of the common stock listed below, based on information they have furnished to us, have sole voting and investment power with respect to the shares shown. Unless otherwise noted below, the address for each holder listed below is 3300 W. Camelback Road, Phoenix, Arizona 85017.
 
For purposes of calculating beneficial ownership, we have assumed that, as of April 30, 2008:
 
  •  The outstanding shares of our Series A preferred stock are converted into an equal number of shares of common stock;
 
  •  The outstanding shares of our Series C preferred stock, which will convert into common stock upon the closing of the offering based on a conversion price equal to the initial public offering price per share, are converted into an equal number of shares of common stock; and
 
  •  We will issue           shares of common stock in the offering.
 
                                                 
    Beneficially
    Beneficially
    Beneficially
 
    Owned Prior to the
    Owned After
    Owned After
 
    Offering(1)     Offering     Over-Allotment(2)  
    Shares     Percent     Shares     Percent     Shares     Percent  
 
Principal Stockholders:
                                               
Endeavour Capital Fund IV, L.P. and affiliates(3)
    6,623       32.6 %                                
220 GCU, LP and affiliates(4)
    4,754       23.4 %                                
Significant Ventures, LLC(5)
    1,865       9.2 %                                
Directors and Named Executive Officers:
                                               
Brent D. Richardson(6)
    13,159       64.8 %                                
John E. Crowley(7)
    243       1.2 %                                
Christopher C. Richardson(6)
    13,159       64.8 %                                
Timothy N. Fischer
                                           
Michael S. Lacrosse
                                           
Chad N. Heath(8)
    6,623       32.6 %                                
D. Mark Dorman(8)
    6,623       32.6 %                                
David J. Johnson
                                           
Jack A. Henry
                                           
All directors, director-nominees, and executive officers as a group (9 persons)
    19,782       97.4 %                                


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Represents beneficial ownership of less than 1%
 
(1) The percentage of beneficial ownership as to any person as of a particular date is calculated by dividing the number of shares beneficially owned by such person, which includes the number of shares as to which such person has the right to acquire voting or investment power within 60 days after such date, by the sum of the number of shares outstanding as of such date plus the number of shares as to which such person has the right to acquire voting or investment power within 60 days after such date. Consequently, the denominator for calculating beneficial ownership percentages may be different for each beneficial owner.
 
(2) Amounts presented assume that the over-allotment option is exercised in full.
 
(3) Consists of:
 
  •  4,213 shares of common stock issuable upon the conversion of shares of Series A preferred stock and approximately 1,426 shares of common stock issuable upon the conversion of shares of Series C preferred stock, in each case held of record by Endeavour Capital Fund IV, L.P.;
 
  •  258 shares of common stock issuable upon the conversion of shares of Series A preferred stock and approximately 87 shares of common stock issuable upon the conversion of shares of Series C preferred stock, in each case held of record by Endeavour Associates Fund IV, L.P.; and
 
  •  477 shares of common stock issuable upon the conversion of shares of Series A preferred stock and approximately 161 shares of common stock issuable upon the conversion of shares of Series C preferred stock, in each case held of record by Endeavour Capital Parallel Fund IV, L.P.
 
    Endeavour Capital IV, LLC is the general partner of the Endeavour Entities, and has voting and dispositive power with respect to the shares held by the Endeavour Entities. Messrs. Chad N. Heath and D. Mark Dorman, each of whom is a managing director of Endeavour Capital IV, LLC and serves on our board of directors, disclaim beneficial ownership of these shares except to the extent of his respective pecuniary interest. The address for these entities is 920 SW Sixth Avenue, Suite 1400, Portland, Oregon 97204.
 
(4) Consists of
 
  •  1,005 shares of common stock issuable upon the conversion of shares of Series A preferred stock and approximately 340 shares of common stock issuable upon the conversion of shares of Series C preferred stock, in each case held of record by 220 GCU, LP;
 
  •  710 shares of common stock and approximately 162 shares of common stock issuable upon the conversion of shares of Series C preferred stock, in each case held of record by 220 Education, LP;
 
  •  568 shares of common stock and approximately 130 shares of common stock issuable upon the conversion of shares of Series C preferred stock, in each case held of record by 220-SigEd, LP; and
 
  •  1,326 shares of common stock and approximately 303 shares of common stock issuable upon the conversion of shares of Series C preferred stock, in each case held of record by SV One, LP.
 
    220 Management, LLC is the general partner of 220 GCU GP, LP and SV One GP, LP, which are the general partners of 220 GCU, LP and SV One LP, respectively. 220 Management, LLC is also the general partner of 220 Education, LP, which is the general partner of 220 SigEd, LP. 220 Management, LLC has dispositive power with respect to the shares held by 220 GCU, LP, 220 Education, LP, 220 SigEd, LP, and SV One, LP, which we collectively refer to as the 220 Entities, and is affiliated with Charles M. Preston III, one of our former directors. The address for these entities is c/o 220 Partners, LLC, One American Center, 600 Congress Avenue, Suite 200, Austin, Texas 78701. Pursuant to a proxy and voting agreement expected to be entered into prior to the closing of this offering, Messrs. Brent Richardson and Chris Richardson have voting power over the shares beneficially owned by the 220 Entities. Each of Messrs. Brent Richardson and Chris Richardson disclaim beneficial ownership of such shares, except to the extent of such voting interest.


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(5) Consists of 1,516 shares of common stock and approximately 349 shares of common stock issuable upon the convers