Showing posts with label Grand Canyon University. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grand Canyon University. Show all posts

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Surprise! Betsy DeVos's Department of Education rejects Grand Canyon University's application for non-profit status

 Even a blind acorn finds a pig occasionally, and Betsy DeVos's Department of Education finally found a piggy: Grand Canyon University (GCU), which operated as a for-profit institution until 2018.

Last year, DOE rejected GCU's application for non-profit status. This surprised most people because Betsy DeVos is famous for coddling the for-profit college industry.

Not surprisingly, Grand Canyon is suing DOE to overturn the ruling. That's what for-profit colleges do when they don't get their way.

Why did DOE reject Grand Canyon's bid for non-profit status? After all, the university's accreditor and the IRS gave their approval. 

DOE said its decision was based in part on the fact that Grand Canyon University still maintains close financial ties with Grand Canyon Education (GCE), a publicly-traded for-profit corporation. (GCU stock is currently worth about $89 a share.) 

Although GCE sold its university assets to Gazelle University (which operates as Grand Canyon University), GCE still has financial ties to the university from which it profits. 

As DOE explained in an 18-page letter, Grand Canyon's new non-profit owner signed a Master Service Agreement (MSA) with GCE whereby the for-profit entity gets a majority of the revenue from university operations. Specifically:

Despite GCE only taking on the responsibilities of 48% of the operating costs, 60% of the gross adjusted revenue will be paid to GCE under the MSA.  When payments on the Senior Secured Note are included in the analysis, GCE will be receiving approximately 95% of Gazelle's revenue.

DOE also pointed out "that most of [Grand Canyon University's] key management personnel work for GCE, not Gazelle/GCU . . ." Thus, DOE concluded, "as a practical matter, Gazelle is not the entity actually operating the Institution . . . ."

Now you may be asking yourself why Grand Canyon Education, a publicly-traded Delaware corporation, went to the trouble of constructing a deal that would make Grand Canyon University a non-profit.

Undoubtedly, GCE was motivated partly by the desire to make Grand Canyon University seem less venal.  As a non-profit institution, it can claim to be more like traditional non-profit private universities like Harvard, Yale, and Stanford.

And there are regulatory advantages as well. DOE has regulations for the for-profit college industry that don't apply to traditional non-profit universities.

Bud DOE said no, and that was the right decision. A publicly-traded corporation should not be allowed to profit from a university that calls itself a nonprofit while shoveling its revenues to stockholders who are primarily interested in making money.



 


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

It's Magic! Betsy DeVos' Department of Education allows Grand Canyon University to call itself non-profit while its parent company reports profit margin of 27 percent

David Halperin, the nation's best investigative reporter on the for-profit college industry, wrote an article recently on Grand Canyon University, which has been advertising itself lately as a non-profit university.

Well, sorta. As Halperin explained, Betsy DeVos' Department of Education "has blessed a series of troubling deals that allow a [not-]for profit college to be 'serviced by connected for-profit companies."

To what purpose?As Halperin reported:
The non-profit school benefits from the elimination of the for-profit stigma, reduced regulations, elimination of taxation, and eligibility for more state and charitable grants. Meanwhile, the for-profit, and its owners and executives, get to siphon off a lot of the revenue, much of it from taxpayer-funded grants and loans.
Thus in the fairyland world that Betsy DeVos has created, Brian Mueller wears two hats. He is president of Grand Canyon, a non-profit entity. He is also CEO of the university's parent for-profit corporation, Grand Canyon Education.  GCE trades on NASDAQ at $115 a share and reported a profit margin of 27 percent at the end of 2018.

Mueller conducted an earnings call to his investors recently in which he complained about non-profit colleges warning potential students not to enroll at a for-profit college. Through DeVos' mumbo jumbo, Grand Canyon can now call itself a nonprofit college, which has boosted its enrollment.

As Mueller boasted: "They see our ad & call Grand Canyon and within 72 hours everything is done. Applications filled out. Transcripts evaluated. Financial aid is done. They go to our website, they see who Grand Canyon is and say, 'this sounds good,' and they start."

As Halperin accurately observed, "the Donald Trump-Betsy DeVos Department of Education . . . has done everything possible to eliminate rules that protect students and taxpayers from predatory college abuses."

In fact, according to a Century Foundation report, which analyzed colleges with large online enrollments, Grand Canyon only spends 17 percent of its tuition money on educating students (as summarized by Halperin). Some non-profit!

I once thought that DeVos was simply incompetent and making decisions that benefited for-profit colleges out of ignorance. But DeVos knows exactly what she is doing, and she must know that the for-profit college industry as a whole is committing economic rape on unsophisticated young people, including first-generation college goers.

In a November speech, DeVos admitted that the student-loan program is in crisis. This is what she said:
  • The federal government holds $1.5 trillion in outstanding student loans, one third of all federal assets.
  • Only one in four federal student-loan borrowers are paying down the principal and interest on their debt.
  • Twenty percent of all federal student loans are delinquent or in default. That's seven times the delinquency rate on credit card debt.
Of course, the for-profits aren't responsible for all the carnage in the student-loan program, but they are responsible for a lot of it. Adam Looney and Constantine Yannelis, writing for the  Brookings Institute, reported awhile back that the 5-year default rate for one cohort of students who attended for-profit colleges was 47 percent! Several for-profits have been shut down in a shower of fraud allegations.

But even for DeVos, this latest scheme, which allows a college to call itself non-profit while its for-profit parent reports a profit margin of 27 percent, is outrageous.


President of Grand Canyon University and CEO of Grand Canyon Education.