424B1 1 p75463b1e424b1.htm 424(B)(1) e424b1
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Filed Pursuant to Rule 424(b)(1)
Registration No. 333-150876
 
10,500,000 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 10,500,000 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 $12.00 per share. We have received approval to list our common stock on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol “LOPE.”
 
Seventy-five percent (75%) 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 stockholders as a special distribution.
 
Investing in our common stock involves risks. See “Risk Factors” beginning on page 11.
 
 
                 
    Per Share   Total
 
Public offering price
  $ 12.00     $ 126,000,000  
Underwriting discounts
  $ 0.84     $ 8,820,000  
Proceeds, before expenses, to us
  $ 11.16     $ 117,180,000  
 
We have granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to 1,575,000 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 November 25, 2008.
 
 
 
 
Joint Book-Running Managers
 
Credit Suisse Merrill Lynch & Co.
          
 
 
BMO Capital Markets William Blair & Company Piper Jaffray
 
 
 
The date of this prospectus is November 19, 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 December 14, 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 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 22,000 students at September 30, 2008, representing a compound annual growth rate of approximately 52%. At December 31, 2007, our enrollment was approximately 14,800, 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 a March 2008 report from 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, estimated in its 2008-09 Career Guide 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 September 30, 2008, approximately 92% 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 December 31, 2007 was approximately 14,800, representing an increase of approximately 38% over our enrollment at December 31, 2006. Our net revenue and operating income for the year ended December 31, 2007 were $99.3 million and $4.3 million, respectively, representing increases of 37.7% and 42.8%, respectively, over the year ended December 31, 2006. Our enrollment at September 30, 2008 was approximately 22,000, representing an increase of approximately 63% over our enrollment at September 30, 2007. Our net revenue and operating income for the nine months ended September 30, 2008 were $109.6 million, and $9.0 million, respectively, representing increases of 60.1% and 305.5%, respectively, over the nine months ended September 30, 2007. 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


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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 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 March 2008 NCES report, total revenue for all degree-granting postsecondary institutions was over $385 billion for the 2004-05 school year. In addition, according to a September 2008 NCES report, approximately 18.0 million students were projected to be enrolled in postsecondary institutions in 2007 and the number was projected to grow to 18.6 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 a November 2007 report based on BLS data 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, in September 2008 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 we have the following competitive strengths:
 
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.


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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-profit postsecondary market and enhance the reputation of our degree programs among prospective students and employers.
 
Experienced executive management team with strong operating track-record.  Our executive management team possesses extensive experience in the management and operation of publicly-traded for-profit, postsecondary education companies, as well as other educational services businesses, including 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 and student services 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 have launched twelve in the first nine months of 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;


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  •  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; investigation, including the investigation of Grand Canyon University currently being conducted by the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Education; or litigation, including the pending qui tam action regarding the manner in which we have compensated our enrollment personnel; or as a result of negative publicity affecting us or other companies in the for-profit postsecondary education sector;
 
  •  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. 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 10,500,000 shares
 
Common stock outstanding after this offering 43,731,509 shares
 
Use of proceeds The net proceeds to us from this offering will be approximately $111.1 million, or approximately $128.7 million if the underwriters exercise their over-allotment option in full after deducting the underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.
 
As described in “Use of Proceeds” and “Special Distribution,” we will use the proceeds of this offering to pay a special distribution to our stockholders of record as of November 18, 2008, in the amount of 75% of the gross proceeds received by us from the sale of stock in this offering, including any proceeds we receive from the underwriters’ exercise of their over-allotment option, before underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses. We intend to use the remaining proceeds 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 aggregate amount of the special distribution of $94.5 million (exclusive of any amounts that may be received from the underwriters’ exercise of the over-allotment option), $50.2 million will be paid in respect of shares of our capital stock over which our directors and executive officers 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  
    (In thousands)  
 
Directors
       
Chad N. Heath(1)
  $ 28,471  
D. Mark Dorman(1)
  $ 28,471  
Executive Officers
       
Brent D. Richardson
  $ 10,371  
John E. Crowley
  $ 1,005  
Christopher C. Richardson
  $ 10,378  
All directors and executive officers as a group
  $ 50,225  
 
 
  (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 “Special Distribution” and “Certain Relationships and Related Transactions — Special Distribution” for additional information regarding the amount and the beneficiaries of the special distribution.


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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.
 
Nasdaq Global Market symbol LOPE
 
The number of shares of our common stock to be outstanding following this offering is based on the number of shares of our common stock outstanding as of September 30, 2008, and excludes 5,249,921 shares of common stock reserved for future issuance under our stock-based compensation plans. The 5,249,921 shares reserved for future issuance includes 109,329 fully vested restricted shares to be granted to Brian E. Mueller, our Chief Executive Officer, and 733,990 fully vested and 2,595,983 unvested stock options to be granted to employees and a director immediately following the effectiveness of the offering at the initial public offering price.
 
Unless otherwise indicated, this prospectus reflects and assumes the following:
 
  •  no exercise by the underwriters of their option to purchase up to 1,575,000 additional shares from us;
 
  •  a 1,826-for-one split of our outstanding common stock effected on September 29, 2008;
 
  •  the automatic conversion of all outstanding shares of Series A convertible preferred stock into 10,870,178 shares of common stock upon the closing of the offering;
 
  •  the automatic conversion of all outstanding shares of Series C preferred stock into 2,233,333 shares of common stock upon the closing of the offering;
 
  •  the exercise of a warrant to purchase 909,348 shares of our common stock for $0.58 per share, which warrant was exercised in November 2008;
 
  •  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 other 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, have been derived from our audited financial statements, which are included elsewhere in this prospectus. The statement of operations and other data, excluding period end enrollment, for each of the nine month periods ended September 30, 2007 and 2008, and the balance sheet data as of September 30, 2008, have been derived from our unaudited financial statements, which are presented elsewhere in this prospectus and include, in the opinion of management, all adjustments, consisting of normal, recurring adjustments, necessary for a fair presentation of such data. Our historical results are not necessarily indicative of our results for any future period.
 
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,     Nine Months Ended September 30,  
    2005     2006     2007     2007     2008  
    (Restated)(1)     (Unaudited)  
    (In thousands, except enrollment
 
    and per share data)  
 
Statement of Operations Data:
                                       
Net revenue
  $ 51,793     $ 72,111     $ 99,326     $ 68,472     $ 109,626  
Costs and expenses:
                                       
Instructional costs and services
    28,063       31,287       39,050       27,531       36,995  
Selling and promotional
    14,047       20,093       35,148       24,291       46,035  
General and administrative
    12,968       15,011       17,001       11,848       15,992  
Royalty to former owner
    1,619       2,678       3,782       2,585       1,612  
                                         
Total costs and expenses
    56,697       69,069       94,981       66,255       100,634  
                                         
Operating income (loss)
    (4,904 )     3,042       4,345       2,217       8,992  
Interest expense
    (3,098 )     (2,827 )     (2,975 )     (2,236 )     (2,156 )
Interest income
    276       912       1,172       887       508  
                                         
Income (loss) before income taxes
    (7,726 )     1,127       2,542       868       7,344  
Income tax expense (benefit)(2)
    (3,440 )     529       1,016       347       2,868  
                                         
Net income (loss)
    (4,286 )     598       1,526       521       4,476  
Preferred dividends
          (527 )     (349 )     (251 )     (791 )
                                         
Net income available (loss attributable) to common stockholders
  $ (4,286 )   $ 71     $ 1,177     $ 270     $ 3,685  
                                         
Earnings (loss) per common share
                                       
Basic
  $ (0.23 )   $ 0.00     $ 0.06     $ 0.01     $ 0.19  
Diluted
  $ (0.23 )   $ 0.00     $ 0.03     $ 0.01     $ 0.11  
Shares used in computing earnings (loss) per common share
                                       
Basic
    18,470       18,853       18,923       18,885       19,133  
Diluted
    18,470       36,858       35,143       35,189       32,097  
Pro forma earnings per common share (Unaudited)(3)
                                       
Basic
                  $ 0.03             $ 0.09  
                                         
Diluted
                  $ 0.03             $ 0.09  
                                         
Shares used in computing pro forma earnings per common share (Unaudited)(3)
                                       
Basic
                    40,460               40,594  
                                         
Diluted
                    45,154               41,861  
                                         


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    Year Ended December 31,     Nine Months Ended September 30,  
    2005     2006     2007     2007     2008  
    (Restated)(1)     (Unaudited)  
    (In thousands, except enrollment
 
    and per share data)  
 
Other Data:
                                       
Capital expenditures
  $ 817     $ 2,387     $ 7,406     $ 5,136     $ 6,015  
Depreciation and amortization
  $ 1,879     $ 2,396     $ 3,300     $ 2,319     $ 3,676  
Adjusted EBITDA(4)
  $ (895 )   $ 9,074     $ 11,723     $ 7,309     $ 14,568  
Period end enrollment:
                                       
Online
    6,212       8,406       12,497       11,306       19,287  
Ground
    2,210       2,256       2,257       2,193       2,670  
 
                         
    As of September 30, 2008  
                Pro Forma,
 
                as
 
    Actual     Pro Forma(3)     Adjusted(5)  
    (Unaudited)  
    (In thousands)  
 
Balance Sheet Data:
                       
Cash and cash equivalents
  $ 22,227     $ 22,753     $ 42,014  
Total assets
    105,618       106,144       121,037  
Capital lease obligations (including short-term)
    30,775       30,775       30,775  
Other indebtedness (including short-term indebtedness)
    1,814       1,814       1,814  
Preferred stock
    32,739              
Total stockholders’ equity (deficit)(2)(3)
    (7,457 )     (68,692 )     42,388  
 
 
(1) Our financial statements at December 31, 2006 and 2007 and for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2007 have been restated. See Note 3, “Restatement of Financial Statements,” in our financial statements that are included elsewhere in this prospectus.
 
(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) As described in “Use of Proceeds” and “Special Distribution,” we will use the proceeds of this offering to pay a special distribution to our stockholders of record as of November 18, 2008, in the amount of 75% of the gross proceeds received by us from the sale of stock in this offering, including any proceeds we receive from the underwriters’ exercise of their over-allotment option, before underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses. Since the special distribution represents distributions to existing stockholders to be made from the proceeds of an initial public offering, the pro forma balance sheet as of September 30, 2008 reflecting the distribution, but not giving effect to the offering proceeds, is presented. In addition, since the amount of the special distribution exceeds net income for the twelve-month period ended September 30, 2008, pro forma earnings per common share, basic and diluted, are presented for the year ended December 31, 2007 and for the nine-month period ended September 30, 2008, which amounts give effect to the number of shares that would be required to be issued at the initial public offering price of $12.00 per share to pay the amount of dividends that exceeds net income for the twelve-month period ended September 30, 2008. The pro forma balance sheet and earnings per common share data also reflect the exercise of the warrant to purchase 909,348 shares of our common stock for $0.58 per share and assume the conversion of all outstanding shares of Series A convertible preferred stock into 10,870,178 shares of common stock upon the closing of the offering and the conversion of all outstanding shares of Series C preferred stock into 2,233,333 shares of common stock upon the closing of the offering.
 
(4) 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

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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 that are included elsewhere in this prospectus, and (ii) management fees and expenses 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 expenses and royalty expenses paid to our former owner 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. 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, which is a non-GAAP measure, for the periods indicated:
 
                                         
    Year Ended December 31,   Nine Months Ended September 30,
    2005   2006   2007   2007   2008
    (Restated)(1)   (Unaudited)
    (In thousands)
 
Net income (loss)
  $ (4,286 )   $ 598     $ 1,526     $ 521     $ 4,476  
Plus: interest expense net of interest income
    2,822       1,915       1,803       1,349       1,648  
Plus: income tax expense (benefit)
    (3,440 )     529       1,016       347       2,868  
Plus: depreciation and amortization
    1,879       2,396       3,300       2,319       3,676  
                                         
EBITDA
    (3,025 )     5,438       7,645       4,536       12,668  
                                         
Plus: royalty to former owner(a)
    1,619       2,678       3,782       2,585       1,612  
Plus: management fees and expenses(b)
    511       958       296       188       288  
                                         
Adjusted EBITDA
  $ (895 )   $ 9,074     $ 11,723     $ 7,309     $ 14,568  
                                         
 
 
(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,


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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, which are included elsewhere in this prospectus.
 
(b) Reflects management fees and expenses of $0.1 million, $0.3 million, and $0.3 million for the years ended December 31, 2005, 2006, and 2007, respectively, and $0.2 million and $0.3 million for the nine month periods ended September 30, 2007 and 2008, 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.”
 
(5) 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.
 
For our fiscal years ended December 31, 2006 and 2007, we derived cash receipts equal to approximately 67.9% and 70.2%, respectively, of our net revenue 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. We submitted our application for recertification in March 2008 in anticipation of the expiration of our provisional certification on June 30, 2008. The Department of Education did not make a decision on our recertification application by June 30, 2008 and therefore our participation in the Title IV programs has been automatically extended on a month-to-month basis until the Department of Education makes its decision. See “Regulation — Regulation of Federal Student Financial Aid Programs — Eligibility and certification procedures.” There can be no assurance that the Department of Education will recertify us while the investigation by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Education is being conducted, while the qui tam lawsuit is pending, or at all, 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.
 
The Office of Inspector General of the Department of Education has commenced an investigation of Grand Canyon University, which is ongoing and which may result in fines, penalties, other sanctions, and damage to our reputation in the industry.
 
The Office of Inspector General of the Department of Education is responsible for, among other things, promoting the effectiveness and integrity of the Department of Education’s programs and operations, including compliance with applicable statutes and regulations. The Office of Inspector General performs investigations of alleged violations of law, including cases of alleged fraud and abuse, or other identified vulnerabilities, in programs administered or financed by the Department of Education. On August 14, 2008, the Office of Inspector General served an administrative subpoena on Grand Canyon University requiring us to provide certain records and information related to performance reviews and salary adjustments for all of our enrollment counselors and managers from January 1, 2004 to the present. Based on the records and information requested in the subpoena, we believe the Office of Inspector General is conducting an investigation focused on whether we have compensated any of our enrollment counselors or managers in a manner that violated the Title IV statutory requirements or the related Department of Education regulations concerning the payment of incentive compensation based on success in securing enrollments or financial aid. See “Regulation — Regulation of Federal Student Financial Aid Programs — Incentive compensation rule.”
 
We are currently reviewing documents and emails that may be responsive to the Office of Inspector General’s subpoena. The outcome of the Office of Inspector General investigation may depend in part on information contained in these materials or any information or testimony that may be provided by former employees or other third parties.
 
The Department of Education may impose fines and other monetary penalties as a result of a violation of the incentive compensation law and such fines and other monetary penalties may be substantial. In addition, the Department of Education retains the authority to impose other sanctions on an institution for violations of the incentive compensation law. The possible effects of a determination of a regulatory violation are described more fully in “Regulation — Regulation of Federal Student Financial Aid Programs — Potential effect of regulatory violations.” Any such fine or other sanction could damage our reputation and impose significant costs on us, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition, and results of operations. We are cooperating with the Office of Inspector General to facilitate its investigation, but


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cannot presently predict the ultimate outcome of the investigation or any liability or other sanctions that might result.
 
We were recently notified that a qui tam lawsuit has been filed against us alleging, among other things, that we have improperly compensated certain of our enrollment counselors, and we may incur liability, be subject to sanctions, or experience damage to our reputation as a result of this lawsuit.
 
On September 11, 2008, we were served with a qui tam lawsuit that had been filed against us in August 2007, in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona by a then-current employee on behalf of the federal government. All proceedings in the lawsuit had been under seal until September 5, 2008, when the court unsealed the first amended complaint, which had been filed on August 11, 2008. The qui tam lawsuit alleges, among other things, that we violated the False Claims Act by knowingly making false statements, and submitting false records or statements, from at least 2001 to the present, to get false or fraudulent claims paid or approved, and asserts that we have improperly compensated certain of our enrollment counselors in violation of the Title IV law governing compensation of such employees, and as a result, improperly received Title IV program funds. See “Regulation — Regulation of Federal Student Financial Aid Programs — Incentive compensation rule.” The complaint specifically alleges that some of our compensation practices with respect to our enrollment personnel, including providing non-cash awards, have violated the Title IV law governing compensation. While we believe that our compensation policies and practices at issue in the complaint have not been based on success in enrolling students in violation of applicable law, the Department of Education’s regulations and interpretations of the incentive compensation law do not establish clear criteria for compliance in all circumstances and some of our practices, including in respect of non-cash awards, have not been within the scope of any specific “safe harbor” provided in the compensation regulations. The complaint seeks treble the amount of unspecified damages sustained by the federal government in connection with our receipt of Title IV funding, a civil penalty for each violation of the False Claims Act, attorneys’ fees, costs, and interest.
 
A qui tam case is a civil lawsuit brought by one or more individuals (a “relator”) on behalf of the federal government for an alleged submission to the government of a false claim for payment. The relator, often a current or former employee, is entitled to a share of the government’s recovery in the case. A qui tam action is always filed under seal and remains under seal until the government decides whether to intervene in the case. If the government intervenes, it takes over primary control of the litigation. If the government declines to intervene in the case, the relator may nonetheless elect to continue to pursue the litigation at his or her own expense on behalf of the government. In our case, the qui tam lawsuit was initially filed under seal in August 2007 and was unsealed and served on us following the government’s decision not to intervene at this time.
 
If it were determined that any of our compensation practices violated the incentive compensation law, we could experience an adverse outcome in the qui tam litigation and be subject to substantial monetary liabilities, fines, and other sanctions, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations and could adversely affect our stock price. We cannot presently predict the ultimate outcome of this qui tam case or any liability that might result.
 
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. The Higher Education Act, which is the federal law that governs the Title IV programs, must be periodically reauthorized by Congress, and was most recently reauthorized in August 2008. The new law contains numerous revisions to the requirements governing the Title IV programs. See “Regulation — Regulation of Federal Student Financial Aid Programs.” 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.


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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 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.


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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. We were reaccredited by the Higher Learning Commission in 2007 for the maximum term of 10 years. While the Higher Learning Commission concluded that we were in compliance with its accreditation standards, it did note certain deficiencies to be addressed by us. See “Regulation — Accreditation.” In February 2009, we must file a monitoring report with the Higher Learning Commission addressing our progress in resolving these deficiencies. If we fail to resolve the Higher Learning Commission’s concerns, the Higher Learning Commission could ask for another monitoring report, send a team to confirm progress in addressing the deficiencies, or determine that we are not making adequate progress in addressing the Higher Learning Commission’s concerns. If we fail to satisfy any of the Higher Learning Commission’s standards, or fail to address the deficiencies noted in our last review, 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 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, including the widespread disruption in the credit markets, 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 cost of Title IV loans increases or availability decreases, some students may not be able to take out loans and may 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


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  •  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.
 
For our fiscal years ended December 31, 2006 and 2007 we derived cash receipts equal to approximately 67.9% and 70.2%, respectively, of our net revenue 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. If our students’ employment circumstances are adversely affected by regional or national economic downturns, they may be more heavily dependent on student loans. 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 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


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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 requested extensive documentation and information from us and other institutions in Arizona concerning student loan practices, and we provided testimony in response to a subpoena from the Attorney General of the State of Arizona about such practices. We have agreed with the Attorney General of the State of Arizona to conclude this matter by executing a Letter of Assurance, whereby we will agree to conduct referrals of students to lenders in accordance with our existing policies or any new policies promulgated by the State of Arizona in the future, and by reimbursing the state for the costs of its investigation in the amount of approximately $20,000.
 
As a result of this scrutiny, Congress has passed new laws, the Department of Education has enacted stricter regulations, 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.


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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. In this regard, we are currently subject to an investigation by the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General, which we believe is focused on the manner in which we have compensated our enrollment counselors and managers, and a qui tam lawsuit brought by a former employee alleging violations in the same area. See “Risk Factors — The Office of Inspector General of the Department of Education has commenced an investigation of Grand Canyon University, which is ongoing and which may result in fines, penalties, other sanctions, and damage to our reputation in the industry,” “Risk Factors — We were recently notified that a qui tam lawsuit has been filed against us alleging, among other things, that we have improperly compensated certain of our enrollment counselors, and we may incur liability, be subject to sanctions, or experience damage to our reputation as a result of this lawsuit,” and “Regulation — Regulation of Federal Student Financial Aid Programs — Incentive compensation rule.” 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 a September 2008 report from the NCES, enrollment in degree-granting, postsecondary institutions is projected to grow 12.0% over the ten-year period ending fall 2016 to approximately 19.9 million. This growth is slower than the 23.6% increase reported in the prior ten-year period ended in fall 2006, when enrollment increased from 14.4 million in 1996 to 17.8 million in 2006. In addition, according to a March 2008 report from 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, as a result of any regional or national economic downturn or otherwise, 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 revenue.
 
During the fiscal year ended December 31, 2007, private loans to students at our school represented approximately 5.1% of our revenue (calculated on a cash basis) as compared to 2.5% of revenue in fiscal 2006 and 1.9% of revenue in fiscal 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


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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 have submitted a description of the offering to the Department of Education, including a description of a voting agreement that certain of our stockholders will enter into in connection with this offering. See “Certain Relationships and Related Transactions — Voting Agreement.” The Department of Education has informed us that the offering will not trigger a change in ownership resulting in a change in control under the Department of Education’s regulations.
 
The Higher Learning Commission has informed us that it will consider the offering to be a change in control under its policies, and we have obtained the Higher Learning Commission’s approval to consummate the offering. As a result of its determination that the offering will be a change in control, the Higher Learning Commission has informed us that it will conduct a site visit within six months of consummation of the offering to confirm the appropriateness of the approval and to evaluate whether we continue to meet the Higher Learning Commission’s eligibility criteria. In addition, based on our communications with the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education, we believe the offering will be a change in control under Arizona law. Accordingly, following the consummation of the offering, we will be required to file an application with the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education in order to obtain such approval. We cannot predict whether the Higher Learning Commission or the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education will impose any limitations or conditions on us, or identify any compliance issues related to us in the context of the change in control process, that could result in our loss of accreditation or authorization by such agency, as applicable. Any such loss of accreditation or authorization would result in our loss of eligibility to participate in the Title IV programs and cause a significant decline in our student enrollments.
 
We also notified other accrediting commissions and state agencies, as we believed necessary, of this offering and the reasons why we believe this offering will not constitute a change in control under their


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respective standards, or to determine what is required if any such commission or agency does consider the offering to constitute a change in control.
 
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 Department of Education’s regulations set forth 12 “safe harbors” which describe payments and arrangements that do not violate the incentive compensation rule. The Department of Education’s regulations make clear that the safe harbors are not a complete list of permissible practices under this law. One of these safe harbors permits adjustments to fixed salary for enrollment personnel provided that such adjustments are not made more than twice during any twelve month period, and that any adjustment is not based solely on the number of students recruited, admitted, enrolled, or awarded financial aid. While we believe that our compensation policies and practices have not been based on success in enrolling students in violation of applicable law, the Department of Education’s regulations and interpretations of the incentive compensation law do not establish clear criteria for compliance in all circumstances and, in a limited number of instances, our actions have not been within the scope of any specific safe harbor provided in the compensation regulations. In addition, such safe harbors do not address non-cash awards to enrollment personnel.
 
As described in “Risk Factors — The Office of Inspector General of the Department of Education has commenced an investigation of Grand Canyon University, which is ongoing and which may result in fines, penalties, other sanctions, and damage to our reputation in the industry,” and in “Regulation — Regulation of Federal Student Financial Aid Programs — Incentive compensation rule,” we are currently subject to an investigation by the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General, which we believe is focused on the manner in which we have compensated our enrollment counselors and managers. In addition, in recent years several for-profit education companies, including us, have been faced with whistleblower lawsuits, known as “qui tam” cases, by current or former employees alleging violations of this prohibition. See “Risk Factors — We were recently notified that a qui tam lawsuit has been filed against us alleging, among other things, that we have improperly compensated certain of our enrollment counselors, and we may incur liability, be subject to sanctions, or experience damage to our reputation as a result of this lawsuit.” If the Department of Education determines as a result of the pending investigation that we have violated this law, if we are found to be liable in the pending qui tam action, or if we or any third parties we have engaged otherwise violate this law, we could be fined or sanctioned by the Department of Education, or subjected to other monetary liability or 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.
 
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.


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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 revenue from the Title IV programs. The August 2008 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act makes significant changes to this revenue requirement, effective upon the date of the law’s enactment. Under the new law, an institution will be subject to loss of eligibility to participate in the Title IV programs only if it exceeds the 90% threshold for two consecutive years, the period of ineligibility is extended to at least two years, and an institution whose rate exceeds 90% for any single year will be placed on provisional certification. 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. Economic downturns that adversely affect our students’ employment circumstances could also increase their reliance on Title IV programs. These developments 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 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. The August 2008 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act extends by one year the period for which students’ defaults on their loans will be included in the calculation of an institution’s default rate, a change that is expected to increase most institutions’ default rates. The new law also increases the threshold for an institution to lose its eligibility to participate in the relevant Title IV programs from 25% to 30%. These changes to the law take effect for institutions’ cohort default rates for federal fiscal year 2009, which are expected to be calculated and issued by the Department of Education in 2012. Although our cohort default rates have historically been significantly below these levels, we cannot assure you that this will continue to be the case. Any increase in interest rates or declines in income or job losses for our students could 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 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.


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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;
 
  •  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.


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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, and for the six month period ended June 30, 2008, 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 periods covered by such statements. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Internal Control Over Financial Reporting.” We have restated our financial statements as of December 31, 2006 and 2007 and for the years ended December 31, 2005, 2006, and 2007. See Note 3, “Restatement of Financial Statements,” to our financial statements.
 
We are currently 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 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


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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 further restatements 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, system disruptions, or security breaches in 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, 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 September 30, 2008, we offered 79 fully online programs, 17 of which we introduced in 2007, 12 of which we introduced in the first nine months of 2008, 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


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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 as a result of economic conditions affecting employers or otherwise, 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.
 
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.


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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, because we operate in a highly competitive industry, our hiring of qualified executives or other personnel may cause us or such persons to be subject to lawsuits alleging misappropriation of trade secrets, improper solicitation of employees, or other claims. Other than non-compete agreements of limited duration that we have with certain executive officers, we have not historically sought 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 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.


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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.
 
At present we derive a significant portion of our revenues and operating income from our graduate programs.
 
As of September 30, 2008, approximately 56% 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.


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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 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.


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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 September 30, 2008 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 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


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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.
 
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


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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, including the investigation of Grand Canyon University currently being conducted by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Education, and the pending qui tam action regarding the manner in which we have compensated our enrollment personnel; 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 31,472,839 shares, or 71.8%, of our common stock upon the completion of this offering. Our directors and executive officers will beneficially own in the aggregate approximately 29,637,709 shares, or 67.6%, of our common stock after the offering. In addition, pursuant to a voting agreement entered into among Brent Richardson, Chris Richardson, and certain of our existing stockholders, the Richardsons will have voting control over approximately 44.5% or our common stock effective upon completion of the offering. See “Certain Relationships and Related Transactions — Voting Agreement.” Accordingly, the Richardsons could significantly influence the outcome of any actions requiring the vote or consent of stockholders, including elections of directors, amendments to our certificate of incorporation and bylaws, mergers, going private transactions, and other extraordinary transactions, and any decisions concerning the terms of any of these


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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 33,231,509 additional shares of common stock may be eligible for sale in the public market without restriction, and up to approximately 27,529,065 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 10,500,000 shares of our common stock by us in this offering at the initial public offering price of $12.00 per share, you will incur immediate dilution of $11.10 in the net tangible book value per share. 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.”
 
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


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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 will 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 will use the remainder 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 results of the ongoing investigation by the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General and the pending qui tam action regarding the manner in which we have compensated our enrollment personnel, and possible remedial actions or other liability resulting therefrom;
 
  •  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, including competition for qualified executives and other personnel;
 
  •  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 10,500,000 shares of our common stock offered by us in this offering will be approximately $111.1 million (or approximately $128.7 million if the underwriters exercise their over-allotment option in full), based on the initial public offering price of $12.00 per share and after deducting the underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.
 
We will pay a special distribution of 75% of the gross proceeds of this offering, including any proceeds we receive from the underwriters’ exercise of their over-allotment option, that will be payable promptly upon the completion of this offering (and following the exercise of the over-allotment option, if applicable) to our stockholders of record as of November 18, 2008. We will make this distribution upon completion of the offering. See “Special Distribution” for further information.
 
We will use the remaining proceeds that we receive from this offering and from the underwriters’ exercise of their over-allotment option to pay the expenses of this offering and for general corporate purposes.


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SPECIAL DISTRIBUTION
 
We will pay a special distribution of 75% of the gross proceeds of this offering, including any proceeds we receive from the underwriters’ exercise of their over-allotment option, that will be paid promptly upon the completion of this offering (and following the exercise of the over-allotment option, if applicable) to our stockholders of record as of November 18, 2008. Of the aggregate amount of the special distribution of $94.5 million (exclusive of any amounts that may be received from the underwriters’ exercise of the over-allotment option), based on the initial public offering price of $12.00 per share, $50.2 million will be paid in respect of shares of our capital stock over which our directors and executive officers are deemed to exercise sole or shared voting or investment power. These proceeds will be allocated among our directors and executive officers, as well as persons known to us to own beneficially 5% or more of our outstanding common stock, as set forth in the following table.
 
                     
    Date of Acquisition
  Original Acquisition
       
    of Shares to Which
  Cost of Shares to Which
    Amount of
 
    Special Distribution
  Special Distribution
    Special
 
Name of Beneficial Owner
  Relates   Relates(1)     Distribution(2)  
        (In thousands)  
 
5% Stockholders
                   
Endeavour Capital Fund IV, L.P. and affiliates(3)
                   
Series A convertible preferred stock
  August 24, 2005   $ 16,000     $ 25,693  
Series C preferred stock
  December 18, 2007     5,863       2,779  
                     
Total
        21,863       28,471  
220 GCU, L.P. and affiliates(4)
                   
Common stock
  February 2, 2004     3,042       13,337  
Series A convertible preferred stock
  August 24, 2005     3,250       5,219  
Series C preferred stock
  December 18, 2007     3,271       1,550  
                     
Total
        9,563       20,106  
Staci L. Buse(5)
                   
Common stock
  February 2, 2004     1,443       9,928  
Series C preferred stock
  December 18, 2007     934       443  
                     
Total
        2,377       10,371  
Significant Ventures, LLC
                   
Common stock
  February 2, 2004     36       7,075  
Series C preferred stock
  December 18, 2007     1,223       580  
                     
Total
        1,259       7,655  
Directors
                   
Chad N. Heath(3)
                   
Series A convertible preferred stock
  August 24, 2005     16,000       25,693  
Series C preferred stock
  December 18, 2007     5,863       2,779  
                     
Total
        21,863       28,471  
D. Mark Dorman(3)
                   
Series A convertible preferred stock
  August 24, 2005     16,000       25,693  
Series C preferred stock
  December 18, 2007     5,863       2,779  
                     
Total
        21,863       28,471  
Executive Officers
                   
Brent D. Richardson(5)
                   
Common stock
  February 2, 2004     1,443       9,928  
Series C preferred stock
  December 18, 2007     934       443  
                     
Total
        2,377       10,371  
John E. Crowley(6)
                   
Common stock
  February 2, 2004     164       950  
Series C preferred stock
  December 18, 2007     117       55  
                     
Total
        281       1,005  
Christopher C. Richardson(5)
                   
Common stock
  February 2, 2004     1,443       9,935  
Series C preferred stock
  December 18, 2007     934       443  
                     
Total
        2,377       10,378  
All directors and executive officers as a group
      $ 26,898     $ 50,225  


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(1) On August 24, 2005, we converted from a limited liability company to a taxable corporation. The reported acquisition cost of shares of common stock represents the value of the capital contributions originally made to acquire the limited liability company interests that were converted into common stock upon such conversion plus capital contributions for which no additional interests were issued, less capital distributions.
 
(2) The special distribution is being paid in respect of our common stock, Series A convertible preferred stock, and Series C preferred stock, in each case on an as-converted basis. Upon the closing of this offering, the outstanding shares of the Series A convertible preferred stock will convert into 10,870,178 shares of common stock and the outstanding shares of the Series C preferred stock will convert into 2,233,333 shares of common stock.
 
(3) Represents shares held of record by Endeavour Capital Fund IV, L.P., Endeavour Associates Fund IV, L.P., and Endeavour Capital Parallel Fund IV, L.P., which we refer to as the Endeavour Entities. Messrs. Chad N. Heath and D. Mark Dorman, each of whom is a managing director of Endeavour Capital IV, LLC, the general partner for each of the Endeavour Entities, are members of our board of directors.
 
(4) Represents shares held of record by 220 GCU, L.P., 220 Education, L.P., 220-SigEd, L.P., and SV One, L.P.
 
(5) Represents shares held of record by Rich Crow Enterprises, LLC and Masters Online, LLC, of which Brent Richardson, Chris Richardson, and Staci Buse are members and, in each case, which are attributable to, and beneficially owned by, Brent Richardson, Chris Richardson, or Staci Buse, as applicable.
 
(6) Represents shares held of record by Rich Crow Enterprises, LLC, of which John Crowley is a member, which are attributable to, and beneficially owned by, John Crowley.
 
See “Certain Relationships and Related Transactions — Special Distribution” and “Beneficial Ownership of Common Stock” for additional information regarding the beneficiaries of the special distribution and share ownership.
 
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 September 30, 2008:
 
  •  on an actual basis;
 
  •  on a pro forma basis, giving effect to:
 
  (i)   the automatic conversion of all outstanding shares of Series A convertible preferred stock into 10,870,178 shares of common stock upon the closing of the offering; and
 
  (ii)   the automatic conversion of all outstanding shares of Series C preferred stock into 2,233,333 shares of common stock upon the closing of the offering; and
 
  (iii)  the exercise in November 2008 of the warrant to purchase 909,348 shares of our common stock for $0.58 per share; and
 
  •  on a pro forma, as adjusted basis, giving effect to the pro forma adjustments above, as well as:
 
  (i)  our sale of 10,500,000 shares of our common stock in this offering at the initial public offering price of $12.00 per share and after deducting the underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us; and
 
  (ii)  the payment of a special distribution to our existing stockholders of 75% of the gross proceeds from the sale of common stock by us in this offering, including any proceeds we receive from the underwriters’ exercise of their over-allotment option, which will occur promptly upon the consummation of this offering (and the closing of the exercise of the over-allotment option, if applicable).


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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 September 30, 2008  
                Pro Forma,
 
    Actual     Pro Forma     as Adjusted  
    (In thousands, except share data)  
 
Cash and cash equivalents
  $ 22,227     $ 22,753     $ 42,014  
                         
Capital lease obligations
    30,775     $ 30,775     $ 30,775  
Other indebtedness
    1,814     $ 1,814     $ 1,814  
Series A convertible 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 convertible 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
    14,129              
Stockholders’ equity:
                       
Undesignated preferred stock: $0.01 par value; no shares authorized, issued and outstanding, actual and pro forma; 10,000,000 shares authorized, no shares issued and outstanding, pro forma, as adjusted
                 
Common stock: $0.01 par value; 100,000,000 shares authorized, 19,218,650 shares issued and outstanding, actual; 100,000,000 shares authorized, 33,231,509 shares issued and outstanding, pro forma; 100,000,000 shares authorized, 43,731,509 shares issued and outstanding pro forma, as adjusted
    192       332       437  
Additional paid-in capital(1)
    6,238       39,363       55,838  
Accumulated other comprehensive income
    11       11       11  
Accumulated deficit
    (13,898 )     (13,898 )     (13,898 )
                         
Total stockholders’ equity (deficit)
    (7,457 )     25,808       42,388  
                         
Total capitalization
  $ 57,871     $ 58,397     $ 74,977  
                         
 
 


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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 September 30, 2008, our pro forma net tangible book value would have been $22.9 million or, $0.69 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 conversion of all outstanding classes of preferred stock into common stock, and the exercise in November 2008 of the warrant to purchase 909,348 shares of our 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 conversion of all outstanding classes of preferred stock into common stock, the exercise in November 2008 of the warrant to purchase 909,348 shares of our common stock, the payment of the estimated amount of the special distribution to certain of our existing stockholders and the sale of 10,500,000 shares of common stock in the offering at the initial public offering price of $12.00 per share. Our pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value as of September 30, 2008 would have been $39.4 million, or $0.90 per share. This represents an immediate increase in net tangible book value of $0.21 per share to existing stockholders and an immediate dilution of $11.10 per share to new investors purchasing shares in the offering. The following table illustrates this per share dilution:
 
                 
Initial public offering price per share of common stock
          $ 12.00  
                 
Pro forma net tangible book value per share of common stock as of
September 30, 2008
  $ 0.69          
Increase per share of common stock attributable to new investors
    2.71          
Decrease per share of common stock after payment of underwriting discounts and commission and estimated offering expenses by us
    (0.34 )        
Decrease per share of common stock after payment of the special distribution to certain of our existing stockholders
    (2.16 )        
                 
Pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share of common stock after this offering
            0.90  
                 
Dilution per share of common stock to new investors
          $ 11.10  
                 
 
Our pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value will be $42.8 million, or $0.95 per share, and the dilution per share of common stock to new investors will be $11.05, if the underwriters’ over-allotment option is exercised in full.
 
The following table sets forth, as of September 30, 2008, on the pro forma as-adjusted basis described above, the differences between existing stockholders, including the effect of the exercise in November 2008 of the warrant to purchase 909,348 shares of our common stock, 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 the initial public offering price of $12.00 per share of common stock:
 
                                         
                            Average
 
    Shares Purchased     Total Consideration     Price Per
 
    Number     Percent     Amount     Percent     Share  
    (Dollars in thousands)  
 
Existing stockholders
    33,231,509       76.0 %   $ 40,827       24.5 %   $ 1.23  
New investors
    10,500,000       24.0 %     126,000       75.5 %   $ 12.00  
                                         
Total
    43,731,509       100.0 %   $ 166,827       100.0 %   $ 3.81  
                                         

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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 33,231,509, or 73.3%, and the number of shares held by new investors would increase to 12,075,000, or 26.7%, 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 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. The statement of operations and other data, excluding period end enrollment, for each of the nine month periods ended September 30, 2007 and 2008, and the balance sheet data as of September 30, 2008, have been derived from our unaudited financial statements, which are presented elsewhere in this prospectus and include, in the opinion of management, all adjustments, consisting of normal, recurring adjustments, necessary for a fair presentation of such data. 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
                      Nine Months Ended
 
    to December 31,
    Year Ended December 31,     September 30,  
    2004(2)     2005     2006     2007     2007     2008  
    (Unaudited)     (Restated)(1)     (Unaudited)  
    (In thousands, except enrollment and per share data)  
 
Statement of Operations Data:
                                               
Net revenue
  $ 25,629     $ 51,793     $ 72,111     $ 99,326     $ 68,472     $ 109,626  
Costs and expenses:
                                               
Instructional costs and services
    19,705       28,063       31,287       39,050       27,531       36,995  
Selling and promotional
    9,735       14,047       20,093       35,148       24,291       46,035  
General and administrative
    10,828       12,968       15,011       17,001       11,848       15,992  
Royalty to former owner
    448       1,619       2,678       3,782       2,585       1,612  
                                                 
Total costs and expenses
    40,716       56,697       69,069       94,981       66,255       100,634  
                                                 
Operating income (loss)
    (15,087 )     (4,904 )     3,042       4,345       2,217       8,992  
Interest expense
    (1,135 )     (3,098 )     (2,827 )     (2,975 )     (2,236 )     (2,156 )
Interest income
    10       276       912       1,172       887       508  
                                                 
Income (loss) before income taxes
    (16,212 )     (7,726 )     1,127       2,542       868       7,344  
Income tax expense (benefit)(3)
          (3,440 )     529       1,016       347       2,868  
                                                 
Net income (loss)
    (16,212 )     (4,286 )     598       1,526       521       4,476  
Preferred dividends
                (527 )     (349 )     (251 )     (791 )
                                                 
Net income available (loss attributable) to common stockholders
  $ (16,212 )   $ (4,286 )   $ 71     $ 1,177     $ 270     $ 3,685  
                                                 
Earnings (loss) per common share
                                               
Basic
    N/A     $ (0.23 )   $ 0.00     $ 0.06     $ 0.01     $ 0.19  
Diluted
    N/A     $ (0.23 )   $ 0.00     $ 0.03     $ 0.01     $ 0.11  
Shares used in computing earnings (loss) per common share
                                               
Basic
    N/A       18,470       18,853       18,923       18,885       19,133  
Diluted
    N/A       18,470       36,858       35,143       35,189       32,097  
Pro forma earnings per common share (Unaudited)(4)
                                               
Basic
                          $ 0.03             $ 0.09  
                                                 
Diluted
                          $ 0.03             $ 0.09  
                                                 
Shares used in computing pro forma earnings per common share (Unaudited)(4)
                                               
Basic
                            40,460               40,594  
                                                 
Diluted
                            45,154               41,861  
                                                 


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    February 2, 2004
                      Nine Months Ended
 
    to December 31,
    Year Ended December 31,     September 30,  
    2004(2)     2005     2006     2007     2007     2008  
    (Unaudited)     (Restated)(1)     (Unaudited)  
    (In thousands, except enrollment and per share data)  
 
Other Data:
                                               
Capital expenditures
  $ 24,376     $ 817     $ 2,387     $ 7,406     $ 5,136     $ 6,015  
Depreciation and amortization
  $ 1,136     $ 1,879     $ 2,396     $ 3,300     $ 2,319     $ 3,676  
Adjusted EBITDA(5)
  $ (13,503 )   $ (895 )   $ 9,074     $ 11,723     $ 7,309     $ 14,568  
Period end enrollment:
                                               
Online
    3,141       6,212       8,406       12,497       11,306       19,287  
Ground
    1,852       2,210       2,256       2,257       2,193       2,670  
 
                                                 
    As of December 31,     As of September 30, 2008  
    2004     2005     2006     2007     Actual     Pro Forma(4)  
    (Unaudited)     (Unaudited)     (Restated)(1)     (Unaudited)  
    (In thousands)  
 
Balance Sheet Data:
                                               
Cash and cash equivalents
  $ 3,476     $ 2,579     $ 14,361     $ 23,210     $ 22,227     $ 22,753  
Total assets
    30,892       51,859       61,232       88,568       105,618       106,144  
Capital lease obligations (including short-term)
    24,360       24,789       29,728       29,228       30,775       30,775  
Other indebtedness (including short-term indebtedness)
    4,511       2,635       2,462       2,408       1,814       1,814  
Preferred stock
          25,590       21,390       31,948       32,739        
Total stockholders’/members’ deficit(2)(4)
    (7,645 )     (12,111 )     (11,723 )     (10,386 )     (7,457 )     (68,692 )
 
 
(1) Our financial statements at December 31, 2006, and 2007 and for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2007 have been restated. See Note 3, “Restatement of Financial Statements,” in our financial statements that are included elsewhere in this prospectus.
 
(2) 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.
 
(3) 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.
 
(4) As described in “Use of Proceeds” and “Special Distribution,” we will use the proceeds of this offering to pay a special distribution to our stockholders of record as of November 18, 2008, in the amount of 75% of the gross proceeds received by us from the sale of stock in this offering, including any proceeds we receive from the underwriters’ exercise of their over-allotment option, before underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses. Since the special distribution represents distributions to existing stockholders to be made from the proceeds of an initial public offering, the pro forma balance sheet as of September 30, 2008 reflecting the distribution, but not giving effect to the offering proceeds, is presented. In addition, since the amount of the special distribution exceeds net income for the twelve-month period ended September 30, 2008, pro forma earnings per common share, basic and diluted, are presented for the year ended December 31, 2007 and for the nine-month period ended September 30, 2008, which amounts give effect to the number of shares that would be required to be issued at the initial public offering price of $12.00 per share to pay the amount of dividends that exceeds net income for the twelve-month period ended September 30, 2008. The pro forma balance sheet and earnings per common share data also reflect the exercise of the warrant to purchase 909,348 shares of our common stock for $0.58 per share and assume the conversion of all outstanding shares of Series A convertible preferred stock into 10,870,178 shares of common stock upon the closing of the offering and the conversion of all

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outstanding shares of Series C preferred stock into 2,233,333 shares of common stock upon the closing of the offering.
 
(5) 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 that are included elsewhere in this prospectus, and (ii) management fees and expenses 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 expenses and royalty expenses paid to our former owner 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, 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 of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Non-GAAP Discussion.”


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The following table presents data relating to Adjusted EBITDA, which is a non-GAAP measure, for the periods indicated:
 
                                         
          Nine Months
 
          Ended
 
    Year Ended December 31,     September 30,  
    2005     2006     2007     2007     2008  
    Restated(1)     (Unaudited)  
    (In thousands)  
 
Net income (loss)
  $ (4,286 )   $ 598     $ 1,526     $ 521     $ 4,476  
Plus: interest expense net of interest income
    2,822       1,915       1,803       1,349       1,648  
Plus: income tax expense (benefit)
    (3,440 )     529       1,016       347       2,868  
Plus: depreciation and amortization
    1,879       2,396       3,300       2,319       3,676  
                                         
EBITDA
    (3,025 )     5,438       7,645       4,536       12,668  
                                         
Plus: royalty to former owner(a)
    1,619       2,678       3,782       2,585       1,612  
Plus: management fees and expenses(b)
    511       958       296       188       288  
                                         
Adjusted EBITDA
  $ (895 )   $ 9,074     $ 11,723     $ 7,309     $ 14,568  
                                         
 
 
  (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 that are included elsewhere in this prospectus.
 
  (b)   Reflects management fees and expenses of $0.1 million, $0.3 million, and $0.3 million for the years ended December 31, 2005, 2006, and 2007, respectively, and $0.2 million and $0.3 million for the nine month periods ended September 30, 2007 and 2008, 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
 
General
 
We are a 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 September 30, 2008, we had approximately 22,000 students. At December 31, 2007 we had approximately 14,800 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).
 
Regulatory
 
For our fiscal years ended December 31, 2006 and 2007, we derived cash receipts equal to approximately 67.9% and 70.2%, respectively, of our net revenue from tuition financed through federal student financial aid programs authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act. The following trends and uncertainties may affect the availability of or our participation in the Title IV programs.
 
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, including with respect to lending practices related to such programs and potential conflicts of interest between educational institutions and their lenders. The Attorney General of the State of Arizona requested extensive documentation and information from us and other institutions in Arizona concerning student loan practices, and we provided testimony in response to a subpoena from the Attorney General of the State of Arizona about such practices. We have agreed with the Attorney General of the State of Arizona to conclude this matter by executing a Letter of Assurance, whereby we will agree to conduct referrals of students to lenders in accordance with our existing policies or any new policies promulgated by the State of Arizona in the future, and by reimbursing the state for the costs of its investigation in the amount of approximately $20,000. As a result of this nationwide scrutiny, Congress has passed new laws, the Department of Education has enacted


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stricter regulations, and several states have adopted codes of conduct or enacted state laws that further regulate the conduct of lenders, schools, and school personnel. The effect of such actions may be to increase the cost of participating in the Title IV programs and other student loan programs, although we are unable to calculate such potential costs at this time.
 
In addition, the recent disruption in the credit markets and adverse market conditions for consumer loans in general have affected the student lending marketplace, causing some lenders to cease providing Title IV loans to students and causing others to reduce the benefits and increase the fees for the Title IV loans they provide. While some of the lenders we regularly engage with have announced decisions to stop participating in the Title IV loan market generally, to date there have been no material disruptions in the availability of Title IV loans to our students. We have been approved by the Department of Education to participate in the Federal Direct Loan Program, under which the Department of Education rather than a private lender makes the loans to students, and we are prepared for our students to begin receiving loans under that program if we determine that such lending is necessary to continue our students’ access to Title IV loans. The conditions in the market, including the effect of recent legislation aimed at broadening access to Title IV loans, are continuing to evolve and the ultimate impact of such market conditions on our business, if any, cannot be predicted. See “Regulation — Regulation of Federal Student Financial Aid Programs.”
 
Also, in recent years, several for-profit education companies have been faced with whistleblower lawsuits, known as “qui tam” cases, brought by current or former employees alleging that their institution had made impermissible incentive payments to admissions employees. The employees bringing such lawsuits typically seek, for themselves and for the federal government, substantial financial penalties against the subject company. In this regard, on September 11, 2008, we were served with a qui tam lawsuit that had been filed against us in August 2007 in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona by a then-current employee on behalf of the federal government. All proceedings in the lawsuit had been under seal until September 5, 2008, when the court unsealed the first amended complaint, which had been filed on August 11, 2008. The lawsuit alleges, among other things, that we have improperly compensated certain of our enrollment counselors in violation of the Title IV law governing compensation of such employees, and as a result, improperly received Title IV program funds. See “Risk Factors — We were recently notified that a qui tam lawsuit has been filed against us alleging, among other things, that we have improperly compensated certain of our enrollment counselors, and we may incur liability, be subject to sanctions, or experience damage to our reputation as a result of this lawsuit,” “Business — Legal Proceedings,” and “Regulation — Regulation of Federal Student Financial Aid Programs — Incentive compensation rule.” Further, on August 14, 2008, the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Education served an administrative subpoena on Grand Canyon University requiring us to provide certain records and information related to performance reviews and salary adjustments for all of our enrollment counselors and managers from January 1, 2004 to the present. See “Risk Factors — The Office of Inspector General of the Department of Education has commenced an investigation of Grand Canyon University, which is ongoing and which may result in fines, penalties, other sanctions, and damage to our reputation in the industry,” and “Regulation — Regulation of Federal Student Financial Aid Programs — Incentive compensation rule.” If it were determined that any of our compensation practices violated the incentive compensation law, we could be subject to substantial monetary liabilities, fines, and other sanctions or could suffer an adverse outcome in the qui tam litigation, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations and could adversely affect our stock price.
 
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.


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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. 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 and September 30, 2007 and 2008 (which included less than 100 students pursuing non-degree certificates in each period) by degree type and by instructional delivery method:
 
                                                                                 
    December 31,     September 30,  
    2005     2006     2007     2007     2008  
    #     %     #     %     #     %     #     %     #     %  
 
Master’s degree
    6,204       73.7       7,812       73.3       9,156       62.1       8,634       64.0       12,286       56.0  
Bachelor’s degree
    2,218       26.3       2,850       26.7       5,598       37.9       4,865       36.0       9,671       44.0  
                                                                                 
Total
    8,422       100.0       10,662       100.0       14,754       100.0       13,499       100.0       21,957       100.0  
                                                                                 
 
                                                                                 
    December 31,     September 30,  
    2005     2006     2007     2007     2008  
    #     %     #     %     #     %     #     %     #     %  
 
Online
    6,212       73.8       8,406       78.8       12,497       84.7       11,306       83.8       19,287       87.8  
Ground*
    2,210       26.2       2,256       21.2       2,257       15.3       2,193       16.2       2,670       12.2  
                                                                                 
Total
    8,422       100.0       10,662       100.0       14,754       100.0       13,499       100.0       21,957       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. Our new doctoral program in education, which is first being offered in the 2008-09 academic year, costs $770 per credit hour and requires 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


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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 is reduced for some of our students by scholarships. For the years ended December 31, 2006 and 2007, revenue was reduced by approximately $8.0 million and $10.3 million, respectively, as a result of scholarships that we offered to our students. For the nine months ended September 30, 2007 and 2008, we offered scholarships with a total value of approximately $6.6 million and $11.9 million, respectively.
 
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, we derived cash receipts equal to approximately 67.9%, and 70.2%, respectively, of our net revenue from 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 5.1% of our net 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 have historically constituted less than 0.2% of our net 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, 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 expect instructional costs and services as a percentage of tuition and other net revenue to continue to decline as we leverage our support services that are in place over a larger tuition and enrollment base.
 
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. As a result of the removal of our growth restrictions in October 2006, we more than quadrupled the number of our enrollment counselors between December 31, 2006


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and September 30, 2008 in an effort to increase our recruiting activities 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 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, and for the nine month periods ended September 30, 2007 and 2008, we expensed approximately $2.8 million, $3.7 million, $4.3 million, $3.1 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, and for the nine month periods ended September 30, 2007 and 2008, we expensed $1.6 million, $2.7 million, $3.8 million, $2.6 million, and $1.6 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 will 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


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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 made an additional $19.5 million payment to the former owner in April 2008, with these amounts serving as consideration for: (i) the satisfaction in full of all past and future royalties due to the former owner under a 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). 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 has been treated as a prepaid royalty asset that will be amortized over 20 years at approximately $0.3 million per year, which differs from the historical royalty expense.
 
Management fees and expenses.  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, and for the nine month periods ended September 30, 2007 and 2008, we incurred $0.1 million, $0.3 million, $0.3 million, $0.2 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 and other executive 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. Upon the consummation of this offering, we intend to make substantial awards to our directors, officers, and employees, including certain grants to our new Chief Executive Officer and to other employees that will be fully vested upon grant. As a result, we expect to incur non-cash, stock-based compensation expenses in future periods, including expenses of approximately $5.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2008.
 
General and administrative expenses.  In July 2008, we hired a new Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and Executive Vice President, as well as other financial and accounting personnel. Accordingly, compensation expenses, as reflected in our general and administrative expenses, will be higher beginning in the third quarter of 2008.
 
In connection with the Office of Inspector General investigation and the qui tam litigation, we expect to incur increased legal expenses associated with responding to and/or defending such matters, including an estimated $1.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2008 as compared to the approximately $0.2 million in legal expenses incurred in the fourth quarter of 2007.
 
License agreement.  In June 2004, we entered into a license agreement with Blanchard Education, LLC (“Blanchard”) relating to our use of the Ken Blanchard name for our College of Business. The license agreement remains in effect (unless terminated earlier) until February 6, 2016. Under the terms of that agreement, we agreed to pay Blanchard royalties and to issue to Blanchard up to 498 shares of common stock, with the actual number of shares to be issued to be contingent upon our achievement of stated enrollment levels in the College of Business programs during the term of the agreement. On December 31, 2006, it became probable that Blanchard would earn 100 shares under this agreement associated with the first enrollment threshold and, during the third quarter 2007, those 100 shares were earned due to the enrollment threshold being met. On May 9, 2008, the terms of the agreement were amended, pursuant to which Blanchard was issued a total of 200 shares of common stock in full settlement of all shares owed and contingently owed under this agreement. Thus, an additional 100 shares became earned on that date and all remaining performance conditions based on enrollment thresholds were terminated. The shares issued were valued at the


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date the shares were earned and have been treated as a prepaid royalty asset that will be amortized over the remaining term of the license agreement. We will recognize approximately $0.4 million per year in amortization expense related to the issuance of the common stock through February 2016.
 
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, and our financial statements for the six month period ended June 30, 2008, 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. We have restated our financial statements as of December 31, 2006 and 2007 and for the years ended December 31, 2005, 2006, and 2007. See Note 3, “Restatement of Financial Statements,” to our financial statements, which are included elsewhere in this prospectus.
 
Material weaknesses.  In connection with the preparation of our 2005, 2006, and 2007 financial statements, and our financial statements for the six month period ended June 30, 2008, 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 Executive Chairman and our General Counsel contributed certain intangible assets to us, and we improperly recorded these contributed assets at our estimate of their fair 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.
 
  •  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 all periods, we failed to properly account for the issuance of certain common stock and equity linked instruments to third parties.
 
  •  During the six month period ended June 30, 2008, we concluded that a significant increase in our allowance for doubtful accounts was required. A portion of the increase has been determined to be the correction of an error from prior periods and thus the accompanying financial statements have been restated to reflect this increase.
 
  •  We failed to properly account for deferred taxes at the date of conversion from a limited liability company to a corporation.
 
We believe that certain of the control deficiencies related to these errors constitute material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting. Such material weaknesses 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.
 
Management is committed to remediating the control deficiencies that constitute the material weaknesses described herein by implementing changes to our internal control over financial reporting. We have implemented a number of significant changes and improvements in our internal control over financial reporting during fiscal year 2008. Our Chief Financial Officer has taken responsibility for implementing


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changes and improvements in the internal control over financial reporting and remediate the control deficiencies that gave rise to the material weaknesses. Specifically, these changes include:
 
  •  engaging a new Chief Financial Officer and hiring additional financial and accounting personnel, all of whom have experience managing or working in the corporate accounting department of a large publicly traded education company;
 
  •  making numerous process changes in the financial reporting area, including additional oversight and review; and
 
  •  conducting training of our accounting staff for purposes of enabling them to recognize and properly account for transactions of the type described above.
 
Management plans to continue to implement further changes and improvements during the remainder of the current fiscal year. 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 at the time the account is returned by an outside collection agency. 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. During the second half of 2008, we expect to begin to write off existing and new doubtful accounts no later than one year after the revenue is generated, which will likely result in a significant reduction in our accounts receivable and related allowances. We believe our reserves are adequate to cover any write offs we may make.


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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. Effective January 1, 2008, we adopted FASB Interpretation No. 48, Accounting for Uncertainty in Income Taxes (“FIN 48”). FIN 48 prescribes a more-likely-than-not threshold for financial statement recognition and measurement of a tax position taken or expected to be taken in a tax return. 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:
 
                                         
          Nine Months
 
          Ended
 
    Year Ended December 31,     September 30,  
    2005     2006     2007     2007     2008  
    (Restated)(1)     (Unaudited)  
 
Net revenue
    100.0 %     100.0 %     100.0 %     100.0 %     100.0 %
Operating expenses
                                       
Instructional cost and services
    54.2       43.4       39.3       40.2       33.7  
Selling and promotional
    27.1       27.9       35.4       35.5       42.0  
General and administrative
    25.0       20.8       17.1       17.3       14.6  
Royalty to former owner
    3.2       3.7       3.8       3.8       1.5  
                                         
Total operating expenses
    109.5       95.8       95.6       96.8       91.8  
                                         
Operating income (loss)
    (9.5 )     4.2       4.4       3.2       8.2  
Interest expense
    (5.9 )     (3.9 )     (3.0 )     (3.2 )     (2.0 )
Interest income
    0.5       1.2       1.2       1.3       0.5  
                                         
Income (loss) before income taxes
    (14.9 )     1.5       2.6       1.3       6.7  
Income tax expense (benefit)
    (6.6 )     0.7       1.0       0.5       2.6  
                                         
Net income (loss)
    (8.3 )     0.8       1.6       0.8       4.1  
                                         
 
 
(1) Our financial statements at December 31, 2006 and 2007 and for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2007 have been restated. See Note 3, “Restatement of Financial Statements,” included in our financial statements, which are presented elsewhere in this prospectus.


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Nine Months Ended September 30, 2008 Compared to Nine Months Ended September 30, 2007
 
Net revenue.  Our net revenue for the nine months ended September 30, 2008 was $109.6 million, an increase of $41.1 million, or 60.1%, as compared to net revenue of $68.5 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2007. This increase was primarily due to increased enrollment and, to a lesser extent, increases in the average tuition per student caused by tuition price increases and an increase in the average credits per student, partially offset by an increase in institutional scholarships. End-of-period enrollment increased 62.7% between September 30, 2007 and 2008, 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 nine months ended September 30, 2008 were $37.0 million, an increase of $9.5 million, or 34.4%, as compared to instructional cost and services expenses of $27.5 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2007. This increase was primarily due to increases in instructional compensation and related expenses, faculty compensation, depreciation and amortization, and other miscellaneous instructional costs and services of $3.5 million, $2.9 million, $1.0 million, and $2.1 million, respectively. These increases are all attributable to the increased headcount (both staff and faculty) needed to provide student instruction and support services as a result of the increase in enrollments. Our instructional cost and services expenses as a percentage of net revenue decreased by 6.5% to 33.7% for the nine months ended September 30, 2008, as compared to 40.2% for the nine months ended September 30, 2007. 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 nine months ended September 30, 2008 were $46.0 million, an increase of $21.7 million, or 89.5%, as compared to selling and promotional expenses of $24.3 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2007. This increase was primarily due to increases in selling and promotional employee compensation and related expenses, advertising, revenue sharing expense, and other selling and promotional related costs of $12.9 million, $6.5 million, $1.2 million, and $1.1 million, respectively. These increases were 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 6.5% to 42.0% for the nine months ended September 30, 2008, from 35.5% for the nine months ended September 30, 2007. 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 lead purchases to support the additional enrollment counselors. 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. We plan to continue to add additional enrollment counselors in the future, although the number of additional hires as a percentage of the total headcount is expected to decrease, and we therefore plan to reduce selling and promotional expenses as a percentage of net revenue in the future.
 
General and administrative expenses.  Our general and administrative expenses for the nine months ended September 30, 2008 were $16.0 million, an increase of $4.1 million, or 35.0%, as compared to general and administrative expenses of $11.9 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2007. This increase was primarily due to increases in legal, audit and corporate insurance; bad debt expense; employee compensation; and other general and administrative expenses of $1.1 million, $1.0 million, $0.8 million and $1.2 million, respectively. The increase in legal, audit, and corporate insurance is primarily related to legal costs associated with the Sungard matter, which went to arbitration in the second quarter of fiscal 2008, as well as costs incurred related to the OIG investigation. See “Business — Legal Proceedings.” Bad debt expense increased to $5.3 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2008 from $4.3 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2007 as a result of an increase in net revenue. The other general and administrative expense increase was attributable to expenditures made to continue to support the growth of our business. Our general


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and administrative expenses as a percentage of net revenue decreased by 2.4% to 14.9% for the nine months ended September 30, 2008, from 17.3% for the nine months ended September 30, 2007, primarily due to a decrease in our bad debt expense and employee compensation and related benefits as a percentage of net revenue between periods from 6.3% and 4.3% of revenue during the first nine months of 2007, respectively, to 4.8% and 3.4% of net revenue during the first nine months of 2008, respectively. The improvement in bad debt expense as a percentage of net revenue is primarily due to an improvement in our aging between periods and an increased revenue base. The decrease in employee compensation and related benefits as a percentage of net revenue is the result of us leveraging our current staffing over a larger 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 nine months ended September 30, 2008 of $1.6 million, a decrease of $1.0 million, or 37.6%, as compared to royalty expenses incurred of $2.6 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2007 as a result of the elimination of the obligation to pay royalties to the former owner effective April 15, 2008. As discussed above, the only related expense in future periods will be the approximately $0.3 million in annual amortization of the prepaid royalty asset that was established as a result of payments made to eliminate this future obligation. Our royalty expense as a percentage of net revenue decreased to 1.5% for the nine months ended September 30, 2008 from 3.8% for the nine months ended September 30, 2007.
 
Interest expense.  Our interest expense for both the nine month periods ended September 30, 2008 and 2007 was $2.2 million as the average level of borrowings remained fairly consistent between periods.
 
Interest income.  Our interest income for the nine months ended September 30, 2008 was $0.5 million, a decrease of $0.3 million from $0.8 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2007, as a result of decreased levels of cash and cash equivalents.
 
Income tax expense.  Income tax expense for the nine months ended September 30, 2008 was $2.8 million, an increase of $2.5 million from $0.3 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2007. This increase was primarily attributable to increased income before income taxes, partially offset by a slight decrease in our effective income tax rate to 39.1% from 40.0%.
 
Net income.  Our net income for the nine months ended September 30, 2008 was $4.5 million, an increase of $4.0 million, or 760%, as compared to net income of $0.5 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2007, due to the factors discussed above.
 
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 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 $39.1 million, an increase of $7.8 million, or 24.8%, as compared to instructional cost and services expenses of $31.3 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 4.1% to 39.3% for the year ended December 31, 2007, as compared to 43.4% 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.


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Selling and promotional expenses.  Our selling and promotional expenses for the year ended December 31, 2007 were $35.1 million, an increase of $15.1 million, or 74.9%, as compared to selling and promotional expenses of $20.1 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 7.5% to 35.4% for the year ended December 31, 2007, from 27.9% 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 $17.0 million, an increase of $2.0 million, or 13.3%, as compared to general and administrative expenses of $15.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2006. Bad debt expense increased to $6.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2007 from $4.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2006 primarily 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 3.7% to 17.1% for the year ended December 31, 2007, from 20.8% 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 $3.0 million, an increase of $0.2 million, from $2.8 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 $1.0 million, an increase of $0.5 million, or 92.1%, from $0.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2006. This increase was primarily attributable to increased income before income taxes, partially offset by a decrease in our effective income tax rate to 40.0% from 46.9%.
 
Net income.  Our net income for the year ended December 31, 2007 was $1.5 million, an increase of $0.9 million, or 155.2%, as compared to net income of $0.6 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


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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 $31.3 million, an increase of $3.2 million, or 11.5%, as compared to instructional cost and services expenses of $28.1 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 10.8% to 43.4% for the year ended December 31, 2006, as compared to 54.2% 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 $20.1 million, an increase of $6.0 million, or 43.0%, as compared to selling and promotional expenses of $14.0 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 27.9% from 27.1%.
 
General and administrative expenses.  Our general and administrative expenses for the year ended December 31, 2006 were $15.0 million, an increase of $2.0 million, or 15.8%, as compared to general and administrative expenses of $13.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2005. Bad debt expense increased to $4.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2006 from $2.6 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 4.2% to 20.8% for the year ended December 31, 2006, from 25.0% 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 $2.8 million, a decrease of $0.3 million, or 8.7%, from $3.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2005. The decrease was primarily due to a lower average level of borrowings in 2006.
 
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 $0.5 million, an increase of $4.0 million from income tax benefit of $3.4 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 46.9% from 44.5%.
 
Net income (loss).  Our net income for the year ended December 31, 2006 was $0.6 million, an increase of $4.9 million as compared to net loss of $4.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2006 due to the factors discussed above.


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Quarterly Results and Seasonality
 
The following tables set forth certain unaudited financial and operating data in the first and second quarters of 2008 and each quarter during the years ended December 31, 2006 and 2007. We believe that the unaudited information reflects all adjustments, which include only normal and recurring adjustments, necessary to present fairly the information below.
 
                                 
    First Quarter     Second Quarter     Third Quarter     Fourth Quarter  
    (In thousands, except enrollment data)  
    (unaudited)  
    (restated)  
 
2006
                               
Net revenue
  $ 16,695     $ 16,009     $ 17,580     $ 21,827  
Costs and expenses:
                               
Instructional costs and services
    7,545       7,154       7,540       9,048  
Selling and promotional
    4,449       4,515       5,376       5,753  
General and administrative
    3,215       3,645       3,645       4,506  
Royalty to former owner
    438       387       1,354       499  
                                 
Total costs and expenses
    15,647       15,701       17,915       19,806  
Operating income (loss)
    1,048       308       (335 )     2,021  
Net interest expense
    (215 )     (499 )     (317 )     (884 )
                                 
Income (loss) before income taxes
    833       (191 )     (652 )     1,137  
Income tax expense (benefit)
    391       (90 )     (306 )     534  
                                 
Net income (loss)
  $ 442     $ (101 )   $ (346 )   $ 603  
                                 
Period end enrollment
    9,088       8,137       10,217       10,662  
2007
                               
Net revenue
  $ 23,213     $ 20,858     $ 24,401     $ 30,854  
Costs and expenses:
                               
Instructional costs and services
    8,845       8,710       9,976       11,519  
Selling and promotional
    6,008       8,178       10,105       10,857  
General and administrative
    3,614       4,763       3,471       5,153  
Royalty to former owner
    607       1,022       956       1,197  
                                 
Total costs and expenses
    19,074       22,673       24,508       28,726  
Operating income (loss)
    4,139       (1,815 )     (107 )     2,128  
Net interest expense
    (448 )     (375 )     (526 )     (454 )
                                 
Income (loss) before income taxes
    3,691       (2,190 )     (633 )     1,674  
Income tax expense (benefit)
    1,475       (875 )     (253 )     669  
                                 
Net income (loss)
  $ 2,216     $ (1,315 )   $ (380 )   $ 1,005  
                                 
Period end enrollment
    11,397       10,332       13,499       14,754  
2008
                               
Net revenue
  $ 35,709     $ 34,566     $ 39,351          
Costs and expenses:
                               
Instructional costs and services
    11,620       12,408       12,967          
Selling and promotional
    12,586       14,887       18,562          
General and administrative
    4,541       6,419       5,032          
Royalty to former owner
    1,022       466       124          
                                 
Total costs and expenses
    29,769       34,180       36,685          
Operating income
    5,940       386       2,666          
Net interest expense
    (560 )     (515 )     (573 )        
                                 
Income (loss) before income taxes
    5,380       (129 )     2,093          
Income tax expense (benefit)
    2,076       (49 )     841          
                                 
Net income (loss)
  $ 3,304     $ (80 )   $ 1,252          
                                 
Period end enrollment
    17,486       16,510       21,957          


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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 ground students do not attend courses during the summer months (June through August), which affects our results for our second and third fiscal quarters. Because a significant amount of our campus costs are fixed, the lower revenue resulting from the decreased enrollment has historically contributed to operating losses during those periods. 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 and the first nine months of 2008 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, $23.2 million, and $22.2 million at December 31, 2006 and 2007 and September 30, 2008, 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 at least the next 24 months.
 
Operating Activities.  Net cash provided by operating activities for the nine months ended September 30, 2008 was $18.1 million. Excluding the payment of $19.5 million that was made to our former owner in April 2008 to satisfy in full all past royalties due under the royalty agreement and the elimination of the existing obligation to pay royalties for online student revenues in perpetuity, net cash provided by operating activities for the nine months ended September 30, 2008 would have been $30.4 million. 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 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. Excluding the accrual and payment to our former owner, net cash provided by operating activities would have been $6.3 million. 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.


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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 2006. Excluding the accrued royalties to our former owner, net cash provided by operating activities would have been $4.1 million. 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. Excluding the accrued royalties to our former owner, net cash used in operating activities would have been $8.0 million.
 
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, and $(6.1) million for the nine months ended September 30, 2008. 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, and $6.0 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2008. 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, and $(13.1) million for the nine months ended September 30, 2008. During these periods, principal payments on notes payable, capital lease obligations and our line of credit were offset by private placements of securities by our stockholders and amounts drawn on our line of credit. Net cash used in financing activities for the nine months ended September 30, 2008 also included the $6.0 million related to the repurchase of a warrant from our former owner pursuant to the standstill agreement.
 
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
    Years
    Years
    More than
 
    Total     1 Year     2-3     4-5     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 8, “Notes Payable and Capital Lease Obligations,” to our financial statements, which are included elsewhere in this prospectus, for a discussion of our long term debt and capital lease obligations.
 
(2) See Note 9, “Commitments and Contingencies,” to our financial statements, which are included elsewhere in this prospectus, for a discussion of our operating lease obligations.


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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.
 
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 and the nine months ended September 30, 2008. 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.
 
In this prospectus, 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, which are included elsewhere in this prospectus, and (ii) management fees and expenses 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 expenses and royalty expenses paid to our former owner 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 and expenses 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:
 
                                         
          Nine Months Ended
 
    Year Ended December 31,     September 30,  
    2005     2006     2007     2007     2008  
    Restated(a)     (Unaudited)  
    (In thousands)  
 
Net income (loss)
  $ (4,286 )   $ 598     $ 1,526     $ 521     $ 4,476  
Plus: interest expense net of interest income
    2,822       1,915       1,803       1,349       1,648  
Plus: income tax expense (benefit)
    (3,440 )     529       1,016       347       2,868  
Plus: depreciation and amortization
    1,879       2,396       3,300       2,319       3,676  
                                         
EBITDA
    (3,025 )     5,438       7,645       4,536       12,668  
                                         
Plus: royalty to former owner(b)
    1,619       2,678       3,782       2,585       1,612  
Plus: management fees and expenses(c)
    511       958       296       188       288  
                                         
Adjusted EBITDA
  $ (895 )   $ 9,074     $ 11,723     $ 7,309     $ 14,568  
                                         
 
 
(a) Our financial statements at December 31, 2006 and 2007 and for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2007 have been restated. See Note 3, “Restatement of Financial Statements” in our financial statements that are included elsewhere in this prospectus.
 
(b) 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.
 
(c) Reflects management fees and expenses of $0.1 million, $0.3 million, and $0.3 million for the years ended December 31, 2005, 2006, and 2007, respectively, and $0.2 million and $0.3 million for the nine month periods ended September 30, 2007 and 2008, 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.”
 
To date, we have not granted or issued any stock-based compensation. We have adopted and implemented a stock incentive plan pursuant to which we will periodically grant awards to our directors, officers, employees, and other eligible participants. Upon the consummation of this offering and pursuant to this plan, we intend to make substantial awards to our new Chief Executive Officer and to other employees, a significant


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portion of which will be fully vested upon grant. As a result, we expect to incur non-cash, stock-based compensation expenses in future periods, including expenses of approximately $5.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2008. Although we believe that equity-plan related compensation will be a key element of our employee relations and long-term incentives, we intend to exclude it as an expense when evaluating our core operating performance in any particular period. Accordingly, following this offering, we intend to include stock-based compensation expenses, along with management fees and expenses, royalty expenses to our former owner, and any other expenses and income that we do not consider reflective of our core operating performance, as adjustments when calculating Adjusted EBITDA.
 
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 and September 30, 2008, a 10% increase or decrease in interest rates would not have a material impact on our 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 its adoption did not 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 adopted SFAS No. 157 on January 1, 2008, and its adoption did not 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. We adopted of SFAS No. 159 on January 1, 2008 and its adoption did not have a material impact on our financial position or results of operations.


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BUSINESS
 
Overview
 
We are a 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 22,000 students at September 30, 2008, representing a compound annual growth rate of approximately 52%. At December 31, 2007, our enrollment was approximately 14,800, 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 a March 2008 report from 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, estimated in its 2008-09 Career Guide 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 September 30, 2008, approximately 92% 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 December 31, 2007 was approximately 14,800, representing an increase of approximately 38% over our enrollment at December 31, 2006. Our net revenue and operating income for the year ended December 31, 2007 were $99.3 million and $4.3 million, respectively, representing increases of 37.7% and 42.8%, respectively, over the year ended December 31, 2006. Our enrollment at September 30, 2008 was approximately 22,000, representing an increase of approximately 63% over our enrollment at September 30, 2007. Our net revenue and operating income for the nine months ended September 30, 2008 were $109.6 million and $9.0 million, respectively, representing increases of 60.1% and 305.5%, respectively, over the nine months ended September 30, 2007. 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.


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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 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 early 1980s 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 March 2008 NCES report, total revenue for all degree-granting postsecondary institutions was over $385 billion for the 2004-05 school year. In addition, according to a September 2008 NCES report, 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 18.6 million by 2010. We


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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. A November 2007 report based on BLS data 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 102% higher, respectively, than for a high school graduate of the same age with no college education.
 
According to the March 2008 NCES report, as of 2007 71% of adults age 25 years or older did not possess a bachelor’s or higher degree. In the September 2008 report, the NCES estimated that, as of 2006, adults age 25 years or older represented 39% of total U.S. postsecondary enrollments, or approximately 6.9 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, in September 2008 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 March 2008 NCES report, 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 its 2008-09 Career Guide, the BLS estimates that 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.


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  •  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.
 
Competitive Strengths
 
We believe we have the following competitive strengths:
 
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 March 2008 NCES report, 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 September 30, 2008, approximately 60.0% 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


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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.
 
Experienced executive management team with strong operating track-record.  Our executive management team possesses extensive experience in the management and operation of publicly-traded for-profit, postsecondary education companies, as well as other educational services businesses, including in the areas of marketing to, recruiting, and retaining students pursuing online and other distance education degree offerings. Our Executive Chairman and former Chief Executive Officer, Brent Richardson, has worked in the education services sector for more than 20 years and has extensive experience in content development and prospective student identification and recruitment. Dr. Kathy Player, our President, 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.
 
Effective July 1, 2008, we hired Brian Mueller, Stan Meyer, and Dan Bachus to serve as our Chief Executive Officer, Executive Vice President, and Chief Financial Officer, respectively. Mr. Mueller has been involved in the education industry for over 25 years, most recently as the president of Apollo Group, Inc., a for-profit, postsecondary education company and the parent company of the University of Phoenix. Mr. Meyer, who also has over 25 years of experience in the education industry, most recently served as the executive vice president of marketing and enrollment for Apollo Group, Inc. Mr. Bachus, who is a certified public accountant, has worked in the education industry for approximately seven years, including as the chief accounting officer and controller for Apollo Group, Inc.
 
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 in its 2008-09 Career Guide that these sectors will continue to grow. In 2007, we increased the number of our enrollment counselors by over 200 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 twelve new online programs in the first nine months of 2008, including 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.


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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 the first nine months of 2008, we taught courses at 29 hospitals and had direct billing arrangements with 28 employers covering programs being pursued by approximately 2,100 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. 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 29% 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


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  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.
 
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.  At September 30, 2008, over 90% of our online classes had 25 or fewer students, with no classes exceeding 40 students, and over 80% of our ground classes had 25 or fewer 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.


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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.
  2008 - 2010
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.
  2008 - 2013
 
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 began offering our first doctoral degree program, a Doctorate of Education in Organizational Leadership, in May 2008.


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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.
 
We license the right to utilize the name of Ken Blanchard in connection with our business school and Executive MBA Programs. See “Intellectual Property.”


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Under the overall leadership of 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


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development cost and the long-term demand for the program. If, following this analysis, we decide to proceed 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, our President, 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 September 30, 2008, we employed 460 ground-based faculty members, of which 53 were full-time and 407 were part-time adjuncts, and maintained a pool of over 1,000 online faculty members, all of whom had completed our required training and 656 of which taught at least one course during the first nine months of 2008. Substantially all of our current faculty members hold at least a master’s degree in their respective field and approximately 29% 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.


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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 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


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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.
 
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 September 30, 2008, we employed over 550 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 and have plans to add up to three additional facilities during the next six months.
 
Retention.  We employ a retention team whose purpose is to support the student in advancing from matriculation through graduation. The retention team members, 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


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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.
 
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 September 30, 2008, we had 21,957 students enrolled in our courses, of which 19,287, or 87.8%, were enrolled in our online programs, and 2,670, or 12.2%, were enrolled in our ground programs. Of our online students, which were geographically distributed throughout all 50 states of the United States, and Canada, 91.6% 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, 63.0% were age 25 or older.
 
The following is a summary of our student enrollment at September 30, 2008 and December 31, 2007 (which included less than 100 students pursuing non-degree certificates) by degree type and by instructional delivery method:
 
                                     
    September 30, 2008     December 31, 2007  
    # of Students     % of Total     # of Students     % of Total  
 
Master’s
    12,286       56 .0       9,156       62 .1 %
Bachelor’s
    9,671       44 .0       5,598       37 .9 %
                                     
Total
     21,957         100 .0         14,754        100 .0 %
                                     
 
                                     
    September 30, 2008     December 31, 2007  
    # of Students     % of Total     # of Students     % of Total  
Online
    19,287       87 .8       12,497       84 .7 %
Ground*
    2,670       12 .2       2,257       15 .3 %
                                     
Total
     21,957        100 .0         14,754        100 .0 %
                                     
 
 
* Includes our traditional ground 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 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 of the course. In addition, we charge a fixed $7,740 “block tuition” for undergraduate ground students taking between 12 and 18 credit


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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. Our new doctoral program in education, which is first being offered in the 2008-09 academic year, costs $770 per credit hour and requires approximately 60 credit hours.
 
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 and the nine months ended September 30, 2008, our revenue was reduced by approximately $8.0 million, $10.3 million, and $11.9 million, respectively, as a result of scholarships that we offered to our students.
 
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, 2008, under the Federal Stafford Loan Program, a dependent undergraduate student can borrow up to $5,500 for the first academic year, $6,500 for the second academic year, and $7,500 for each of the third and fourth academic years. Students classified as independent,


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  and dependent students whose parents were denied a parent loan for undergraduate students, 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.
 
  •  Pell.  Under the Pell Program, the Department of Education makes grants to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. Effective July 1, 2008, the maximum annual grant a student can receive under the Pell Program is $4,731. Under the August 2008 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, students will be able for the first time to receive Pell Grant funds for attendance on a year-round basis, which means that the amount a student can receive in a given year will be more than the traditionally defined maximum annual amount.
 
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. We have been approved by the Department of Education to participate in the Federal Direct Loan Program, under which the Department of Education rather than a private lender makes the loans to students, and we are prepared for our students to begin receiving loans under that program if we determine that such lending is necessary to continue our students’ access to Title IV loans. The types of loans, the maximum annual loan amounts and other terms of the loans made under the Federal Direct Loan Program are similar to those for loans made under the FFEL 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 and the first nine months of 2008, 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 5.1% 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 began 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,


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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.
 
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 September 30, 2008, we employed 1,121 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


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University, University of Phoenix, and Walden University. In addition, many public and private schools, colleges, and universities, including most major colleges and universities, offer online programs.
 
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.
 
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 and have plans to add up to three additional enrollment facilities during the next six months.
 
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.


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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. Following discovery, the arbitration occurred in late May 2008 and final arguments were heard in July 2008. We sought approximately $1.4 million from SunGard, and SunGard counterclaimed for approximately $2.5 million. On October 22, 2008, the arbitration panel awarded SunGard net damages in the amount of approximately $250,000 plus interest. We will also be responsible for paying a share of the related arbitration expenses.
 
On August 14, 2008, the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Education served an administrative subpoena on Grand Canyon University requiring us to provide certain records and information related to performance reviews and salary adjustments for all of our enrollment counselors and managers from January 1, 2004 to the present. See “Regulation — Regulation of Federal Student Financial Aid Programs — Incentive compensation rule.” We are cooperating with the Office of Inspector General to facilitate its investigation, but cannot presently predict the ultimate outcome of the investigation or any liability or other sanctions that may result.
 
On September 11, 2008, we were served with a qui tam lawsuit that had been filed against us in August 2007, in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona by a then-current employee on behalf of the federal government. All proceedings in the lawsuit had been under seal until September 5, 2008, when the court unsealed the first amended complaint, which had been filed on August 11, 2008. The qui tam lawsuit alleges, among other things, that we violated the False Claims Act by knowingly making false statements, and submitting false records or statements, from at least 2001 to the present, to get false or fraudulent claims paid or approved, and asserts that we have improperly compensated certain of our enrollment counselors in violation of the Title IV law governing compensation of such employees, and as a result, improperly received Title IV program funds. The complaint specifically alleges that some of our compensation practices with respect to our enrollment personnel, including providing non-cash awards, have violated the Title IV law governing compensation. While we believe that the compensation policies and practices at issue in the complaint have not been based on success in enrolling students in violation of applicable law, the Department of Education’s regulations and interpretations of the incentive compensation law do not establish clear criteria for compliance in all circumstances, and some of these practices, including in respect of non-cash awards, are not within the scope of any specific “safe harbor” provided in the compensation regulations. The complaint seeks treble the amount of unspecified damages sustained by the federal government in connection with our receipt of Title IV funding, a civil penalty for each violation of the False Claims Act, attorneys’ fees, costs, and interest. A number of similar lawsuits have been filed in recent years against educational institutions that receive Title IV funds. We have filed a motion to dismiss the qui tam lawsuit and plan to contest it vigorously.
 
If it were determined that any of our compensation practices violated the incentive compensation law, we could experience an adverse outcome in the qui tam litigation and be subject to substantial monetary liabilities, fines, and other sanctions, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations and could adversely affect our stock price. We cannot presently predict the ultimate outcome of this case or any liability or other sanctions that may result. It is possible that, during the course of the litigation, other information may be discovered that would adversely affect the outcome of the litigation.
 
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, Chief Administrative 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.
 
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 or where we have determined that our licensure or authorization can facilitate the teaching certification process in a particular state for graduates of our College of Education. 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. We believe we are licensed or authorized in those jurisdictions where a license or authorization is currently required, and we do not believe that any of the states in which we are currently licensed or authorized, other than Arizona, are individually material to our operations. Nevertheless, because we enroll students in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, we expect that other state regulatory authorities will request that we seek licensure or authorization in their states in the future. Although we believe that we will be able to comply with additional state licensing or authorization requirements that may arise or be asserted 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


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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.
 
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 for the maximum term of 10 years 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 connection with our reaccreditation by the Higher Learning Commission in 2007, the Higher Learning Commission identified certain deficiencies in the areas of library staffing and resources, assessment, and resources for our on-ground operations. We are addressing these deficiencies and expect to provide a monitoring report regarding our progress in these areas to the Higher Learning Commission in February 2009.
 
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.


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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 accreditation by an accrediting commission recognized by the Department of Education. We submitted our application for recertification in March 2008 in anticipation of the expiration of our provisional certification on June 30, 2008. The Department of Education did not make a decision on our recertification application by June 30, 2008 and therefore our participation in the Title IV programs has been automatically extended on a month-to-month basis until the Department of Education makes its decision.
 
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 (as it will do in connection with the August 2008 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act described below) 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, and the most recent reauthorization occurred in August 2008. The reauthorized Higher Education Act reauthorized all of the Title IV programs in which we participate, but made numerous revisions to the requirements governing the Title IV programs, including provisions relating to the relationships between institutions and lenders that make student loans, student loan default rates, and the formula for revenue that institutions are permitted to derive from the Title IV programs. 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


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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.
 
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 placed us on provisional certification status and 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 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.
 
Since May 2005 we have been certified to participate in Title IV programs on a provisional basis. We submitted our application for recertification in March 2008 in anticipation of the expiration of our provisional certification on June 30, 2008. The Department of Education did not make a decision on our recertification application by June 30, 2008 and therefore our provisional certification to participate in the Title IV programs has been automatically extended on a month-to-month basis until the Department of Education makes its decision. Provisional certification means that the Department of Education may more closely review applications for recertification, new locations, new educational programs, acquisitions of other schools, or other significant changes. For a school that is certified on a provisional basis, the Department of Education may revoke the institution’s certification without advance notice or advance opportunity for the institution to challenge that action. For a school that is provisionally certified on a month-to-month basis, the Department of Education may allow the institution’s certification to expire at the end of any month without advance notice, and without any formal procedure for review of such action. To our knowledge, such action is very rare and has only occurred upon a determination that an institution is in substantial violation of material Title IV requirements. For the foreseeable future, we do not have plans to establish new locations, acquire other schools, or make other significant changes in our operations. With the exception of our newly instituted doctoral program in education, which is accredited but not yet eligible for Title IV funding and which is immaterial to our operations, we do not have any plans to initiate new educational programs that would require approval of the Department of Education. Accordingly, we do not believe that our continued provisional certification on a month-to-month basis has had or will have any material impact on our day-to-day operations. However, there can be no assurance that the Department of Education will recertify us while the investigation by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Education is being conducted, while the qui tam lawsuit is pending, or at all, or that it will not impose restrictions as a condition of 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.
 
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;


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  •  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 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.


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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 and 2007 financial statements to the Department of Education as required, and we calculated that our composite score for those years exceeded 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 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 fo