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Grand Canyon Education Inc  (NASDAQ:LOPE)
Q3 2018 Earnings Conference Call
Nov. 08, 2018, 4:30 p.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Q3 2018 Grand Canyon Education Earnings Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later we will conduct a question-and-answer session and instructions will follow at that time. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder, today's conference is being recorded. I would like to introduce host of today's conference call Mr. Dan Bachus, Chief Financial Officer, you may begin.

Dan Bachus -- Chief Financial Officer

Thank you. Joining me on today's call is our Chairman and CEO Brian Mueller. Please note that many of our comments today will contain forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Various factors could cause our actual results to be materially different from any future results expressed or implied by such statements. These factors are discussed in our SEC filings, including our Annual Report on 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K.

We undertake no obligation to provide updates with regards to the forward-looking statements made during this call and we recommend that all investors to review these reports thoroughly before taking a financial position in GCE. And with that, I will turn the call over to Brian.

Brian Mueller -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Good afternoon and welcome to Grand Canyon Education's Third Quarter Fiscal Year 2018 Conference Call. For those of you that are new to this story or missed last quarter's conference call, on July 1st, 2018 GCE consummated an asset purchase agreement with GCU, formerly known as the Gazelle University. Prior to the transaction, GCE owned and operated the University. As a result of the transaction, GCE transferred to GCU, the real property and improvements comprising the University campus as well as tangible and intangible academic and related operations and assets related to the university. And GCU assumed liabilities related to the transferred assets.

Accordingly, GCU now owns and operates the University. In connection with the closing GCE and GCU entered into a long-term master services agreement, pursuant to which GCE provides identified technology and academic services, counseling services and support, marketing and communication services and several back office services to GCU, in return for 60% of GCU's tuition and fee revenue.

Accordingly, the results of operations discussed on this call reflect GCE's operations since July 1st, 2018, as a service technology provider with currently one client GCU. During the third quarter of 2018, enrollment at Green Canyon University, grew at 8.2%. New working adult students attending GCU's online campus grew in the high single digits year-over-year which exceeded expectations. New ground traditional enrollment also increased in high single-digits year-over-year, which also exceeded our expectations.

To give you an idea of the size and scope of services, GCE offered to GCU in the third quarter and could offer to other universities in the future, I am providing the following summary. First, from the curriculum development area for new programs were released to the university for implementation. I want to remind you that GCU is responsible to select on new programs. It is responsible for the content and learning outcomes of the programs and sets the admissions requirements, and also sets the faculty academic requirements to teach in the program. The new programs were a Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security, Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management, Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences and a Master of Science in Nursing with an emphasis in public health nursing.

In addition, there were 10 programs and certificates that were revised or updated. Second, from the faculty services area, there were 22 full-time and 401 adjunct faculty recruited and trained. There were also 192 additional sessions of faculty training and professional development. Examples of these trainings include, boosting student's success, the first year experience, from theory to practice and creating collaborative classrooms.

Third, in the admissions area, a total of 33,886 transcripts were evaluated, which provides for prospective students the information they need in order to make a decision to start a program.

Fourth, in financial aid 199,320 files were touched. Fifth, in the scheduling area of 14,614 classes were scheduled with an average class size of 15 in September.

Sixth, our academic counselors performed 550,000 activities on behalf of students in the quarter, including activities such as welcome calls to new students, course reminder calls, GPA concerns, attendance, finance changes, missing documents, practical or licensure follow up in schedules built or changed.

Seventh, in technical support, a key aspect of supporting students in an online environment, 69% of calls were answered with no whole time and have placed on hold the average time is 46 seconds.

Eighth, our advertising work was very efficient and provided the necessary coverage to proceed our enrollment goal. Ninth, we continue to enhance our technology platform during the third quarter. We rolled out an in-house developed additional writing tool to all GCU students. This tool uses machine learning to provide feedback to students during the writing process. And in the future will allow instructors to provide feedback and we'll actually grade written work.

We also began a pilot on the GCU traditional campus of the platform we've built to provide the required cloud resources and environment templates for exercises in our cybersecurity programing and other IT courses. This will allow us to enhance both traditional and online courses with real world problems and do that scale. We continue to use deep analytics surrounding all aspects of the learning process to apply artificial intelligence to automate reactions and identify specific student support needs.

We continue to work at the process of adding new GCE clients. In the next 30 days, we will meet with five universities to discuss the possibility of a future partnership. We have built more than $200 million worth of technology to support students at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels who are pursuing degrees in an online environment. A differentiating characteristic of GCE as our ability to provide scale at high levels of quality.

We will continue to take our time in identifying the right partners who have quality programs and are willing to provide them at scale. We'll provide more information on our progress in the months to come.

Turning to the results of operations, commencing July 1st, 2018. The results of our operations do not include the University operations at GCU, but rather reflect the operations of GCE as a service technology provider. In the third quarter, GCE made changes to its presentation of operating expenses and reclassified prior periods to conform to the current presentation. GCE determined that these changes will provide more meaningful information as this new presentation provides transparency regarding the cost that will be incurred as a service provider and the cost that will not reoccur in the future as they are related to university expenses that were transferred to GCU in the transaction.

See as reported and as classified amounts are presented in Note 3 to our consolidated quarterly financial statements for the period ended September 30th, 2018. In the third quarter of 2018, GCE's operating margins declined from 25.3% to 18.9% but this was an anomaly as it was significantly impacted by the transaction-related expenses incurred in the third quarter of 2018 and the increased contributions we made in lieu

state income taxes in the third quarter of 2018 compared to the third quarter of 2017.

Adjusted operating income and adjusted operating margin for the three-months ended September 30th, 2018 excluding costs incurred related to the transaction, including the loss on track on the transaction of $15.6 million, University-related expenses of $6.6 million in contributions in lieu of state income tax of $3.7 million or $55.3 million and $35.6 million respectively.

Adjusted operating income and adjusted operating margin for the three-months ended September 30th, 2017, excluding 40% of University-related revenue, University-related expenses and the contributions in lieu of state income taxes of $2 million or $50.7 million and $35.8 million respectively. Dan will discuss each of these costs in more detail in a few minutes.

After-tax margins as reported grew from 16.6% in the third quarter of 2017 to 21.7% for the current quarter and net income as reported was $33.8 million for the third quarter of 2018 as compared to $39.3 million in the prior year. Net income and earnings per share for the third quarter of 2018 adjusted for the impacts of the transaction and contributions made in lieu of state income taxes was $51.4 million and $1.6 respectively.

While net income and earnings per share for the third quarter of 2017, adjusted for the impact of the contributions made in lieu of state income taxes was $39.8 million and $0.82 respectively. Service revenues were $155 million in the third quarter of 2018, compared to $236.2 million of University-related revenue in the prior year. Had the transaction occurred on July 1st, 2017, comparable service fee revenue would have been $141.7 million in the third quarter of 2017. This represents 9.7% -- this represents an increase of 9.7% between the third quarter of 2017 and third quarter of 2018 on a comparable basis.

The increase year-over-year in comparable service fee revenue was due to an increase in GCUs enrollment and an increase in GCUs ancillary revenue resulting from increased traditional student enrollment. Enrollment at GCU increased 8.2% between September 30, 2017 and September 30, 2018. As I indicated earlier, new working adult students attending GCUs online campus grew in the high single digits year-over-year which exceeded expectations. New ground traditional student enrollment also increase in the high single digits year-over-year which also exceeded our expectation.

The income statement data as a percentage of revenue is not comparable between periods for the third quarter. This is a result of a reduction in revenues associated with the company transitioning to an education service provider as of July 1st, 2018. As a result, the company has calculated 60% of University-related revenue for the three-months ended September 30th, 2017. As adjusted non-GAAP net revenue which is the percentage of GCUs tuition and fee revenue to which the company is entitled under the Master Services Agreement.

In order to compare operating expense percentage is net of adjusted non-GAAP net revenue on a comparable basis. For reconciliation of these adjusted amounts to the as reported equivalent in our Form 10-Q, please refer to our earnings release.

Technology in academic services grew from $10.5 million in the third quarter of 2017 to $11.1 million in the third quarter of 2018, an increase of $0.6 million or 5.8%. This increase was primarily due to an increase in employee compensation and related expenses compensation due to increase in number of staff needed to support our client GCU and is increased enrollment growth, tenure base salary adjustments and increased benefit costs between years. As a percent of comparable revenue these cost decrease 30 basis points to 7.1% primarily due to our ability to leverage our technology and academic services personnel across an increasing revenue base, partially offset by the planned reinvestment of a portion of the savings provided by our lower tax rate in increased employee compensation and benefit costs.

Counseling services and support expenses grew from $46.1 million in the third quarter of 2017 to $51.1 million in the third quarter of 2018, an increase of $5 million or 10.9%. This increase is due to increased employee compensation and benefit costs between years. Increased occupancy and depreciation expenses and increased dues and travel cost needed to service GCU and its enrollment growth.

As a percentage of comparable revenue, these costs increased 40 basis points to 32.9% from 32.5% due primarily, due to the planned reinvestment of a portion of the savings provided by our lower tax rate in increased employee compensation for better cost.

Marketing and communication expenses as a percent of comparable revenue increased 50 basis points from third-quarter of 2017 to third-quarter of 2018. General and administrative expenses increased $1.7 million between years and as a percentage of comparable revenue increased 60 basis points to 6.5% in Q3 2018 from 5.9% in Q3 of 2017. This increase was primarily due to increases in contributions made in lieu of state tax -- state income taxes to school sponsoring organizations from $2 million in third-quarter of 2017 to $3.7 million in quarter three 2018. We anticipate in GCUs enrollment will be at 97,200 at the end of the fourth quarter.

With that, I would like to turn it over to Dan Bachus, our Chief Financial Officer, to give a little more color on 2018 third quarter, talk about changes in the income statement, the balance sheet and other items as well as to provide updated 2018 guidance and the financial impacts of the transaction.

Dan Bachus -- Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Brian. I first would like to spend a few minutes talking about the impact of the transaction on our just filed financial statement. The transaction is described in detail in footnote two to our financials thing. However, I would like to highlight some items that you might notice on the balance sheet, income statement and statement of cash flow.

From a balance sheet perspective, we transferred the education related assets and liabilities, including restricted cash, student accounts receivable, certain other asset, property and equipment including the University Campus and furniture and equipment used by university employees certain accrued liabilities, student deposits and deferred revenue to the university.

The company received a secured note for these transferred assets in the amount of $870.1 million that earned interest 6% payable monthly. The company also transferred cash equal to $43.7 million representing a working capital adjustment as part of the closing. Except for identified liabilities assumed by GCU, GCE retain responsibility for all liabilities for the business arising from pre-closing operation.

In connection with the transaction closing our credit agreement was amended -- such as the lenders release the collateral securing the company's obligations under the credit agreement and modified certain financial and regulatory covenant to reflect the fact the company no longer operate the regulated educational institution and we provide to the administrative agent cash collateral securing our financed remaining obligations under the credit agreement -- until such time as the transactions has been approved by the US Department of Education and agreed to collaterally assign rights under the Asset Purchase Agreement, the Secured Note and the Master Services Agreement.

The amount that is considered cash collateral is included as restricted cash on the consolidated balance sheet. From an income statement perspective during the three months ended September 30, 2018. The company's net income was reduced $19.6 million(ph) included in the loss on transaction due to transaction costs of $3 million and asset impairment of $3 million and the transfer by the company to GCU of cash of $9.6 million to fund the deferred compensation plan for GCUs employees that were formally GCE employees and that held unvested restricted stock of GCE that was forfeited upon the transaction.

Included in the university related expenses for the three-months ended September 30th, 2018 is $7.9 million of share-based compensation expense resulting from the modification and investing a previously issued restricted stock grants held by transferred employees an employer tax expense of $0.2 million related to share-based compensation modification, net of reversals of employee-related liabilities that were not part of the transferred assets for the transaction of $1.5 million.

The total costs included as loss on transactions and university related expenses during the three-months just ended of $22.2 million was slightly less than the $23.7 million of estimated transaction costs. Interest income on secured note at $13.5 billion was slightly less than the $13.8 million that we had provided in our guidance for the third quarter, due to the timing of the funding of the university of capital expenditures.

As will be discussed later this timing difference will continue in the fourth quarter, reducing slightly our projected interest income. As Brian alluded to, in his financial discussion, we made changes to the way we present operating expenses on our income statement and -- reclassified prior periods to conform to the current presentation. We believe these changes provide more meaningful information as this new presentation provides transparency, regarding the cost that will be and would have been incurred as a service provider and the cost that will not reoccur in the future as they are related to university expenses that were transferred to GCU in the transaction, as reported and the as reclassified amounts are presented in footnote three for each of the four quarters of 2017 and the first two quarters of 2018.

The transaction also had an impact on our effective tax rate during the third quarter which I will discuss in more detail in a minute. From a cash flow perspective, the effect of the transaction is reflected as it disposition, net of cash of $131.6 million in our investing activities. This represents a net --net cash transferred as part of the working capital adjustment of $43.7 million and the restricted cash transfer to the University at closing. The funding of GCU capital expenditures during the quarter of $12.8 million is also considered in investing activity, $5.1 million of the increase in GCE capital expenditures between June 30 and September 30, 2018 of $11.3 million is related to GCE capital expenditures with the remaining amount the result of University related capital expenditures incurred prior to June 30, 2018 but paid during the third quarter of 2018.

The $69.5 million accounts receivable due GCU as a result of the service fees being paid a month in arrears. With that, I will now provide color on the third quarter sorry on the fourth quarter of 2018. I'm sorry, on the third quarter of 2018.

Service revenue slightly exceeded our expectations in the third quarter of 2018, primarily due to GCUs higher enrollment and higher ancillary revenues. Revenue per student increase the third quarter of 2018 compared to the prior year due to a shift in the timing of start date for our clients ground traditional students resulting in one more revenue producing day in 2018 and an increase in residential students as a percentage of enrollment. GCUs has not raised the situation for it's traditional ground programs in 10 years and tution increases for working adult programs have averaged 1% or less.

Our effective tax rate for the third quarter of 2018 was 20.5% compared to 35.1% in the third quarter of 2017. This decrease is a result of a decrease in our effective tax rate, the lower income between years due to the cost incurred during the third quarter of 2018 related to the transaction, and an increase in our contribution in lieu of state income taxes of the school sponsoring organization.

The lower effective tax rate year-over-year as a result of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, which was signed into law on December 22, 2017. The act reduced the corporate, federal tax rate for a maximum of 35% to a flat 21% rate, effective January 1st, 2018. Our contributions made in lieu of state income taxes has increased from $2 million in Q3, 2017 to $3.7 million in Q3, 2018. We estimate our tax rate, excluding the effect of the transaction and the contributions made in lieu of state income taxes would have been 24.8%, which is slightly higher than our previous estimate of 23.9%. We've repurchased 23,139 shares of our common stock in the third quarter of 2018 at a cost of approximately $4.1 million. We had $93.6 million available under our share repurchase authorization as of September 30, 2018 and our Board of Directors extended the expiration date on our repurchase plan into the December 31, 2019.

Turning to the balance sheet and cash flows, total unrestricted cash and short-term investments as of September 30, 2018 were $113.6 million. Restricted cash and cash equivalents were $61.7 million as of September 30, 2018 and represents the cash collateral on the credit agreement. As was mentioned earlier GCE CapEx in the third quarter of 2018 was approximately $5.1 million or 3.3% of net revenue. We estimate GCEs annual CapEx to range between $10 million and $15 million and be primarily software development and systems related.

We anticipate funding approximately $25 million of CapEx on behalf of GCU through secured note in the fourth quarter of 2018 and a $100 million in 2019. This funding is the finish the 2018-2019 school year project and three apartment style residence halls and a parking garage for the 2019- 2020 school.

Last, I would like to provide color on the updated guidance we have provided for the fourth quarter of 2018, we have not adjusted our enrollment revenue, our operating income in the fourth quarter for previously provided guidance as university enrollments are being impacted by higher than expected graduation. We now anticipate graduations will be a 1,000 greater than expected for the year.

During the end of the second quarter, graduations approximated our expectations but had accelerated greater than expected in the second half of the year. Brian will provide more color on this in a few moments. Revenue will be negatively impacted in the fourth quarter of 2018 due to the timing of GCUs fault (inaudible). We estimate interest income and interest expense will be $13.8 million and $700,000 in the fourth quarter, respectively. Interest income is primarily related to the seller financing, we previously estimated that interest income would be $14.3 million in the fourth quarter, but due to timing differences and funding in the University capital projects, we have lowered our expectations.

We now estimate our effective tax rate will be $21.7 million -- 21.7% (ph) in the fourth quarter which is down from our previous estimate of 23.1% in Q4. Although we might be purchased additional shares during 2018 these estimates do not assume repurchase.

I will now turn the call back over to Brian to share a few final thoughts.

Brian Mueller -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

As President of GCU, I would like to say a few words on behalf of the University. Our traditional campus new incoming class was approximately 7,100 students. The average incoming GPAs of the new class was over 3.5. Our Honors College is now about 2,000 students with average incoming GPAs of over 4.1.

We now have 11 advisory boards, with over 200 companies, hospitals and school district represented on those Boards. There are now over 3,000 students involved in internships in the current school year. Our nine colleges now offer 239 programs, certificates in emphasis areas. We are now up to 117 student clubs, have 547 students involved in theater, music and dance, have approximately 20 students involved in intercollegiate debate competition and anticipate over 10,000 students in interim sports which includes over 1,000 students in clubs sports.

Our 21 Division I won athletic programs, won the Directors Cup in the Western Athletic Conference last year and we expect to win again this year. We are currently at capacity in our residential halls. To support the growth on a traditional campus for the next year, we are building three new apartment style residence halls and new parking garage, and a new student life building.

Our traditional student enrollment approximated our expectations, however, it is important to note that enrollment growth has been pressured by significant year-over-year increases in graduations. This has been cost not only by the recent growth in total enrollment, but also due to the high percentage of our students that are graduating in under four years. This is the result of our expansive dual credit program with high schools across the country and students taking online courses during the summer.

This is another reason that students and parents are attracted to the university. As we have discussed in the past, we anticipate that we will continue to see a decrease in the year-over-year growth rate in the Spring semester of each year as new enrollments in Spring had been fairly consistent year-to-year primarily transfers. While all the Spring graduation to continue to grow.

GCE's online student population growth is also starting to see pressure from year-over-year increases in graduates. As you will recall, online start growth accelerated during the second quarter of 2016. Significant numbers of those students started to graduate near the end of the third quarter of 2018 and a significant year-over-year increase in graduations has continued into the fourth quarter. I'm extremely pleased with the new ground and online start growth because the quality of our students coming in continues to go up the graduation rates, which are listed on our website continue to go up. It is also very important to note that according to The Institute for College Access & Success, GCU's graduates have less debt than the average State University student and far less debt than the average private university students.

These facts along with GCU's low cohort default rate, which we estimate will be 5.8% for our most recently completed cohort makes GCU's value proposition to students and families very attractive.

I will now turn the call over to the moderator, so that we can answer your questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

(Operator Instructions) Our first question comes from Jeff Silber with BMO Capital Markets.

Jeff Silber -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Thank you so much. I'm just wondering post this transaction, if I'm either a student of GCU or an employee at GCU. Have things changed at all for me?

Brian Mueller -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

If you're a student at GCU, no. The students on our ground campuses, if you would have asked them before the transaction if we were for profit or not-for-profit, we probably couldn't have told you and don't really care and absolutely nothing has changed for them post the transaction. The same thing would be true for online students.

The things that they're happiest with are for the high quality of the programs, the tremendous amount of support that they get around the programs, the quality of the facilities the classrooms, the laboratories, the electronic classroom, all those things and the fact that we haven't raised their tuition and made it pretty affordable.

If you're an employee, there were some slight changes dealing with technology, email addresses, things like that. There were some reporting changes, but in terms of the work that we're doing on the behalf of students, the Master Services Agreements clearly outlines that we keep the level of service up to our previous standards, and we're doing that and so not much about their job has changed. As we move into becoming more aggressive and serving other universities, there will be some significant changes, but in terms of what's going on in last 90 days, not a lot.

Jeff Silber -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Okay, great. And let me just take a segway from that last comment, I know you could give us more color on potential partnerships over the next few months, but I'm just curious in terms of your initial discussions, where are you getting most traction and most interest in the type of services you offer? Is it providing online programs like attritional OPM? Is it providing some of the other services that a Company like yours can provide?

Brian Mueller -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

It's definitely providing online services. Universities wanting to get into that adult market and wanting to deliver their programs in an online format. The thing that attracts them a little bit more to us is the fact that a lot of universities, a lot of the OPM shy away from the back office services. We consider those to be very, very vital. The counselling services around scheduling, around schedule changes, around program selection, the processing of the financial aid work, the processing of the transcripts, building of schedules, those are all back-office functions that we have automated and can do very efficiently, which doesn't put the pressure on their internal systems that are not built to be able to handle that kind of scale.

And so, as we've said before, we'll see how this all goes going forward. We're taking our time, we're very pleased with what we're getting out of Grand Canyon. I know a lot of you are interested in this. There going to be a tailwind because of our not-for-profit status. We've seen a little bit of that in October, in August, September and October. We are not making any predictions going forward except that we have seen a little bit of that which is why we're taking our time and making sure that we find the right partners and one that we can build long-standing relationships with them and they are mutually beneficial. Other than that..

Jeff Silber -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

And just one -- I'm sorry.

Brian Mueller -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Go ahead.

Jeff Silber -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

So just one more quick question. In terms of GCU enrollment, are you no longer disclosing online versus campus?

Brian Mueller -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Right, we are just -- we think it's probably more helpful going forward just to produce one number and keep that number. Yes.

Jeff Silber -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Okay, fair enough. Thanks so much.

Brian Mueller -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Thanks.

Operator

Our next question comes from Jeff Meuler with Baird.

Jeffrey Meuler -- Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated -- Analyst

Yes, thank you. So obviously a high-class problem in terms of the increasing graduations, but I guess are you just calling out the success that the University is having? Or are you trying to signal to us that there is a headwind building as it relates to enrollment growth that GCU Online in 2019 that we should be cognizant of? And can you give us any just sizing of how big the step up in graduations is if that's what you're trying to call out?

Dan Bachus -- Chief Financial Officer

No, Jeff, I don't think there's anything to be hugely concerned with. I think we are a little bit surprised by how far graduations were over our original estimates for the year. We look at where we think the students, when students will graduate and use that to budget graduations and further -- as I mentioned, for the first half of the year, we were pretty much right on. In the second half of the year, especially the last two months, November what we've seen so far in November, October and a little bit in September. We've seen it really starts to spike. So I think those large start groups, cohorts started in the second quarter of 2016 on have really kicked in for graduations now. So, no, I don't think we're signaling any big shift in our long-term objectives for growth other than just to make sure everyone remembers about those large cohorts impacts that appropriated in their models as they look at enrollment growth for next year.

Jeffrey Meuler -- Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated -- Analyst

It's OK.

Brian Mueller -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

So just to add to that, there are two separate issues. The online issue we had that the acceleration of those starts, which we're now getting a large cohort is graduating. Fortunately, that's been offset by really strong start months. So echoing what Dan said we don't think you can expect any significant downturn. On the ground side it is. We have a very aggressive dual credit plan -- dual credit program with thousands of universities across the country and students are earning dual credit either to us or to other universities. They're bringing that credit in and we're becoming a very attractive place because students are finding that they can go through their program in three years. They can add a second major. They can add a minor. And so the process that we're going through right now to counter that is to increase our new start budget for next year on the ground campus to offset that very positive thing, and it's such a strong thing to sell to parents that not only to see average student on our campus pay $8,600 a year for tuition, and $7,000 per room and board, but if you can graduate in three years the value proposition is tremendous, and the opportunity to graduate with little or no debt, because you can work on campus is tremendous. And so we just need to use that to our advantage and accelerate the new starts on the front end.

Jeffrey Meuler -- Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated -- Analyst

Got it. And then just a little confused. I guess you don't have a defined adjusted EPS or something. So maybe that's why you're phrasing things, as quite, but just on this $1.06 EPS excluding certain costs. I mean, I get that the loss on transaction in the university expenses which I think are related to the stock comp investing are one time in nature, but just trying to I guess compared guidance to prior guidance to this $1.06 figure the contribution made in lieu of state income taxes. Why is there a big net income impact in the quarter. I would think that there would be an offset on the tax rate or is there something from a timing perspective in terms of you have expense this quarter, but you get the benefit in a different quarter, something along those lines.

Dan Bachus -- Chief Financial Officer

Yes, you might remember this, but we record -- we have to record a 100% of the contribution as general administrative expense in the third quarter when we make the payments. We get a dollar for dollar credit on that contribution. Although we get three quarters of that dollar for dollar credit in the third quarter and one quarter in the fourth quarter. So it does have a slight not material, but a slight impact on EPS because you're taking a 100% of the expenses in the third quarter and 75% of the reduced tax expense in the third quarter.

Jeffrey Meuler -- Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated -- Analyst

Where -- What's this $1.06 assuming?

Dan Bachus -- Chief Financial Officer

The $1.06 is assuming that the contribution what it made at all. And so, and again I don't, my guess is I would focus a lot on that because I think if you take it out or if you leave it in, I don't think it changes in the $1.06 because you're talking about not a huge amount. Really we'll get you to the $1.06 from the reported EPS is the $22 million worth of transaction expenses that were recorded. But there's probably 0.5% maybe in that contribution as well.

Jeffrey Meuler -- Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated -- Analyst

Okay. So the $3.7 million that you're showing in that line or you're describing the $1.06 that's just the pre-tax amount, so on an after-tax per share basis. It's a $0.01 loss(ph)?

Dan Bachus -- Chief Financial Officer

To calculate it $3.7 million is the expense within the G&A and then its $2.9 billion, which is the benefit that you're getting in tax -- at lower tax expense.

Jeffrey Meuler -- Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated -- Analyst

Okay and then just, Brian the comment that you're starting to see some tailwinds from marketing as a not-for-profit in recent months. Could you just go into more detail there in terms of the marketing efficiency or other benefits that you're starting to see?

Brian Mueller -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

It's partly on the traditional ground side which we won't see the impact of that really until next August. But there are school districts throughout the country that just wouldn't allow our counselors in to talk to students because we had a four bracket status and so we expect a very strong new incoming class in August, as a result of our abilities to get places where in the past we couldn't get.

In terms of online, I wouldn't say it's so much advertising efficiency, yes, it is the conversion efficiency. We had very good start months -- and with good start months in August and September, which are difficult because they're big months, but then we came back with a very big month in October as well. We'll see if that extends for a long period of time. We just have no way of knowing, when the higher education market is fairly flat or maybe there's a slight increase for us to grow as we have in the last 10 years is kind of amazing. So we were able to overcome that poor profit status, which should be a positive thing, but in the minds of many it's not.

But the fact that we had these strong months recently without a huge additional extra spend is a little bit of a positive sign and we'll see where that goes. We just have no way of knowing how many people historically just didn't pick up the phone because it was poor profit. And so we're going to watch, obviously, November and December and see how things look in January and February before we make a final assessment of what that tailwind might be.

Jeffrey Meuler -- Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated -- Analyst

Okay, thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from Peter Appert with Piper Jaffray.

Peter Appert -- Piper Jaffray Companies -- Analyst

Thanks. So, Brian, is it possible to get any more color in terms of sort of the tone of the discussions you're having with potential new clients, and any thoughts in terms of the timing of when you might be able to sign up this next person (inaudible)?

Brian Mueller -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

We hope if things happen in the next three or four months so that we will be ready to start in August or September of next year. We'll see how that goes again, we're taking our time things are going well -- doing well at Grand Canyon University. The tone is very interesting because you meet with well-branded institutions who have one foot in the old days and some of the measurements that are very important to certain of their faculty members, the number of applications that you reject, what your peers say about you, which is almost those two things combined 40% of the US News & World Report rankings.

On the other hand, those who are in same universities are struggling tremendously with their discount rate because people just not willing to spend $50,000, $60,000, $70,000 a year to private university $250,000(ph) with a debt to go back to school. And so this model, this hybrid model that we've created has unbelievable efficiencies which is tremendously disrupting the industry especially for private universities. And so where do you want to play, do you want to play in the past or you want to play in the future or do you want to place somewhere in the middle is what -- they have to decide. There are so many fascinating things about what has happened the last 10 years here. If you ask our students on our campus and we're building that really, really strong student body by virtue of average incoming GPA's by virtue of 60% studying in very difficult academic areas engineering, computer science, Information technology, biology, pre-med et cetera.

If you ask them, if it matters to them that we have 70,000 working adult attending online. It doesn't matter to them at all that we have those students. It doesn't impact the brand negatively at all in their minds. In the past, keeping your brand, keeping your population scares to increase your brand would have been something people thought was very important, we're finding out that it's not important at all. And so the tone of the discussions -- in the tone of the discussions, you can feel the tension, do you want to be a part of what was considered important in the past, or do you want to be a part of what is -- what people are considering important going forward.

I tell people all the time, when families come in our campus now they have three big questions, which is really changed. One, do you have programs -- academic programs that my son or daughter can get involved with that are going to help them get a good paying job and access with good career. That's really, really important to them.

Secondly, can you help my son or daughter graduate with a degree in a reasonable amount of time and with very little debt or no debt. That's very important to them. They don't want their kids to have with $150,000 with the debt. And then thirdly, is your campus safe and is there some sense of moral or ethical standards that surround what you do. And when you can answer all three of those, yes, a lot of the things that people thought were important in the past, no longer become important. And so it's finding a partner that wants to keep what is the best in the past. And when you think about how we deliver education we're very traditional.

We teach with professors. We teach with small class sizes. We teach with a big focus on writing critical thinking and problem solving. We get our kids involved in internships early on in their career. So we're very traditional in how we deliver education. We're very non-traditional in how we build the University student body, create efficiencies and offer this at very reasonable cost. And so which part of that, do you want to be part of it going forward is the tension that people are experiencing. And it's, it's interesting and we think we'll find the right partner, but we want a partner who has a clear vision for what education should be in the future, not what it's been in the past.

Peter Appert -- Piper Jaffray Companies -- Analyst

Right, understood. Thanks for that. And then I'm just wondering, this might be for Dan. If the economics of the business changed at all in the context of more students on this three-year program, right, because it could imply that the average revenue per student is lower, which could conceivably have negative implications from a margin perspective. How does that work, Dan?

Dan Bachus -- Chief Financial Officer

As you look at the ground campus, yes. A lifetime value of the student might be less than what we had initially thought because they're graduating sooner. Now, definitely the case with dual credit obviously if they're taking online courses over the summer we discount those courses -- by the university -- I'm sorry, the university discounts those courses. So when you add it all together, it's not maybe as big of a difference is what you might think, but there is no doubt that dual credit does reduce the University lifetime value of the student, a little bit, but the flip side is higher retention rates, higher graduation rate, which are all good.

The other part of that Peter that is important is that people ask me all the time, why are you building all these buildings this residence halls, this classroom, this laboratory isn't this been go on the way of technology moving forward in my comment always is, you know for traditional students, 18 year old kid, the experience they get in this campus is more important in our opinion, it's ever been. It just has to be affordable it can be at $200,000, with the debt. And so as we move forward the percent of all of our students that come to the traditional campus and live on the campus, which more than doubles the amount -- will doubles the amount of revenue that we get per student, it's going to help offset that three years. And so, when students commune, we get on average $8,600 a year, but when students live on campus it's closer to $16,000 a year and the margins on the residence halls, even though we charge a third less are huge and so that's the three-year, partially offset by the amount of revenue we get for the kids are living on campus.

Peter Appert -- Piper Jaffray Companies -- Analyst

Understood. Thank you.

Operator

And I'm not showing any further questions at this time. I turn the conference back over to our host.

Brian Mueller -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

We have reached the end of our third quarter conference call. We appreciate your time and interest in Grand Canyon Education. And if you still have questions, please contact Dan Bachus. Thank you very much.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, this does conclude today's presentation. You may now disconnect and have a wonderful day.

Duration: 48 minutes

Call participants:

Dan Bachus -- Chief Financial Officer

Brian Mueller -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Jeff Silber -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Jeffrey Meuler -- Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated -- Analyst

Peter Appert -- Piper Jaffray Companies -- Analyst

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