- Grand Canyon Education, a publicly traded company that provides educational services to 27 universities, continued to face enrollment challenges due to the ongoing health crisis, according to the company's latest quarterly earnings report, which showed net income dropping 25.6% to $58.1 million.
- GCE's largest customer is Grand Canyon University, a Christian institution with a large online presence. Its enrollment fell to 106,003 students by the end of March, representing a 4.5% decline from a year ago. The declines were driven by losses in online students.
- Company officials blamed the drop-off on abnormally high enrollment in the pandemic's early stages and recruiting challenges caused by reduced access to the schools, hospitals and businesses where potential students work.
Grand Canyon University is one of many institutions that are struggling with turbulent enrollment. Postsecondary enrollment declined 2.7% year over year in fall 2021, driven by losses in undergraduate students, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. For-profit colleges were hit particularly hard in the fall, with year-over-year enrollment plunging 9.3%.
Despite the challenges in enrollment, GCE officials struck an optimistic tone about the company. They touted gains in Grand Canyon University's on-campus enrollment, which grew to 21,504 students by the end of March, up 9% from last year. Officials also announced three certificate programs built with Grand Canyon University that will launch in the coming months.
Two are expected to appeal to students who want to pursue nursing. The first is a pre-nursing certificate program that will allow high school graduates to take the initial 60 credits of their bachelor's programs online, the company's CEO, Brian Mueller, told analysts Wednesday. The second also caters to students who want to pursue nursing, though it's designed for those who already have a full or partially completed college degree in another academic area.
"When you think of the thousands of students that could benefit from this, it's a significant player for GCE," Mueller said on the call.
The third new certificate will prepare students for a professional electricians apprenticeship program through a 16-credit, one-semester program.
Overall, GCE revenue increased to $244.1 million in the first quarter of 2022, up 3% from last year. Those gains were driven by an increase in revenue per student, partially offset by the company's enrollment declines.
However, net income declined to $58.1 million, down from $78.1 million the year before. The company faced higher costs in providing technology and academic services, counseling services and support, and marketing and communication.