Grand Canyon University Announces Nonprofit Status

Published: Monday, July 2, 2018 - 7:16pm
Updated: Tuesday, July 3, 2018 - 11:08am
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Grand Canyon University and local officials celebrated a new office center and hotel.

Phoenix’s Grand Canyon University is once again a nonprofit organization.

Since 2004, Grand Canyon University has been a for-profit university, a move in response to the crushing $20 million debt the school held.

In 2016, they tried to regain the nonprofit status but were blocked by the Higher Learning Commission.

In March, GCU announced their new bid for nonprofit status cleared that HLC hurdle, but questions remained if they would get to the finish line.

The move splits current operations into two parts: a for-profit company called Grand Canyon Education Inc, and the non-profit university. Brian Mueller will hold the top job at both organizations as CEO and president respectively.

“The for-profit service company will provide all those services that are related to supporting the academic mission of the institution,” Mueller said. “The academic mission of the institution will always be run by university.”

Grand Canyon Education, Inc. will provide “education services” such as marketing, technology and human resources to the university. The nonprofit used a loan to pay about $875 million dollars to acquire the campus and other assets. The school’s nonprofit status will allow it to apply for research grants, avoid income and property taxes, and seek donations. The college will also have voting rights in the NCAA.

The organizations will have separate boards. The University’s conflict of interest policy bans any trustees from having a job or financial stake in the for-profit company.

Mueller is the only exception. He emphasized at a Monday press conference how the college had already adopted attributes of a nonprofit organization.

“We have invested almost every dollar that we’ve made in for-profit back into educational infrastructure for students,” Mueller said.

For example, the university has built student housing, science, technology, engineering and math-focused buildings and restaurants. Mueller joked about the campus’ second Chik-fil-A location opening this fall.

“What more could you do to show you really care about students than give them two Chik-fil-A locations?”

More than 19,000 students were enrolled in-person at Grand Canyon University last fall and over 60,000 people are registered for online classes. Tuition for classes on campus has been frozen for a decade at $16,500. The school reports more than 90 percent of students receive financial aid.

“There is no greater thing you can do from a diversity standpoint than make education affordable to all socioeconomic classes of Americans so that there can be equality of opportunity for everybody,” Mueller said.

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