GCU continues to freeze tuition for students

In recent years, for-profit colleges have been under the microscope. Admissions tactics have undergone scrutiny while student enrollment has been on the decline. One notable for-profit college, Grand Canyon University, shifted back to nonprofit status earlier this year. Now, the west Phoenix-based college is celebrating another achievement as it recently announced its 11th straight year to extend a tuition freeze for students.

The freeze locks in tuition rates for students for the 2019-2020 school year, keeping it at $16,500 for existing and incoming students. The freeze essentially locks in tuition rates for students for the 2019-2020 school year, keeping it at $16,500 for existing and incoming students. That rate hasn’t changed since 2009. What’s more, the university boasts the rate at which its students pursue and apply scholarships toward their tuition, cutting about 90% of the student body’s tution in half ($8,800).

“The University’s ultimate goal is—and has always been—to provide high-quality, relevant, cutting-edge academic programs that lead to high-paying jobs and successful careers; to do that within a Christian worldview perspective; and to make it affordable to all socioeconomic classes of American,” says GCU president Brian Mueller. “We believe being a nonprofit university ensures the long-term legacy of the institution and better enables us to continue to freeze tuition moving forward.”

Tuition across the country for public universities continues to inch up, bit by bit. In fact, there’s been a 2.5 percent increase in in-state tuition for the current school year to $10,230 at public universities. And for private universities, tuition jumped up 3.3 percent to a collar-stretching $35,830 in the same time frame. This falls in line with the continuous gradual spike in tuition across the country—a 35 percent and 26 percent spike, respectively.

The big push for continuing the locked-in tuition offer was to help students incur far less debt than average public and private nonprofit universities; GCU touts $18,750 in average debt for its students, whereas students at other public and private nonprofits usually sport about $28,650 in debt.

In the corresponding years that GCU has locked-in tuition rates, the university has seen skyrocketing student enrollment numbers. It sees about 20,000 students annually on campus compared to less than 1,000 students just 10 years ago. Plus, it’s been shoveling funds and energy into its online presence, elbowing itself to a seat at the table with other continuing education programs in the country.

In recent years, GCU has invested more than $1 billion in infrastructure into the campus. New classrooms, labs, residence halls and athletic facilities have sprung up left and right.

Typically when a university wants to open up a new wing to a building or lay down a brick sidewalk it’s the students who get hit with some sort of financial responsibility. This isn’t the case for GCU students. Why? How? Everything is done in-house, from the architects to construction workers.

“This has enabled us to build state-of-the-art buildings—everything from classrooms and laboratories to residence halls and athletic facilities—for approximately 65 cents on the dollar,” says Mueller. “Because of our successful financial model, GCU has invested more than $1 billion into academic infrastructure over the past 10 years without impacting tuition and passing those costs on to students.”

This school year two new residence halls have opened up on a campus that wasn’t well-known for on-campus student housing. Three more apartment-style halls are already planned (about 1,800 beds in all) for the 2019-2020 school year, upping the total number to 24 halls on the 260-acre campus.

Nick Esquer

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