Paul L. Caron

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Department Of Education Imposes Largest Fine In History On America's Largest Christian College; Was It Targeted By Biden Administration?

Following up on last month's post, Nation's Largest Christian University Says Biden Administration Is Unjustly Targeting It:

Grand Canyon 3U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid Fines Grand Canyon University $37.7 Million for Deceiving Thousands of Students:

The U.S. Department of Education (Department) office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) today announced a $37.7 million fine against Grand Canyon University (GCU), which disbursed the most federal student aid of all participating institutions for the past four award years. An FSA investigation found GCU lied to more than 7,500 former and current students about the cost of its doctoral programs over several years. GCU falsely advertised a lower cost than what 98% of students ended up paying to complete certain doctoral programs.

“GCU lied about the cost of its doctoral programs to attract students to enroll,” said FSA Chief Operating Officer Richard Cordray. “FSA takes its oversight responsibilities seriously. GCU’s lies harmed students, broke their trust, and led to unexpectedly high levels of student debt. Today, we are holding GCU accountable for its actions, protecting students and taxpayers, and upholding the integrity of the federal student aid programs.” 

Grand Canyon University Press Release, GCU Categorically Refutes Department of Education's Lies and Deceptive Statements:

Grand Canyon University categorically denies every accusation in the Department of Education’s statement and will take all measures necessary to defend itself from these false accusations.

The Department’s decision to fine Grand Canyon University $37.7 million and impose conditions on its program participation agreement confirms what we previously outlined in this detailed statement and is further evidence of the coordinated and unjust actions the federal government is taking against the largest Christian university in the country. ...

It is clear to us this punitive action by the Department is part of a coordinated and targeted effort of the federal government that also involves the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Veterans Affairs. ...

We are not aware of any other regionally accredited 501(c)(3) nonprofit university receiving this level of coordinated and unwarranted scrutiny. The combination of these scenarios makes it clear to us that GCU is being unjustly targeted in an agenda-driven manner, and it is alarming that individuals within these agencies have unfettered discretion within the federal government to use their positions to attack institutions with whom they are ideologically opposed.

Wall Street Journal Editorial, Biden Regulators Fine a Christian College:

The liberal press frets with some cause that Donald Trump will target his political opponents if he wins the White House in 2024, but why aren’t they bothered by the Biden Administration’s weaponization of government? Consider the Education Department’s record fine last week against Grand Canyon University (GCU).

The Education Department dunned GCU, the nation’s largest Christian college, $37.7 million for allegedly deceiving prospective students about the cost of its doctoral programs. Its specific beef is that GCU charged students for taking courses while they complete their dissertation, and that these costs weren’t included in a table estimating the degree’s total cost.

But the number of continuation courses varies. Its disclosures make clear that doctoral degree earners require continuation courses—9.5 on average for psychology, which cost $2,175 per course. The department claims this disclosure is buried in “fine print.” GCU’s disclosure is in full-size, red type above its Degree Program Calculator.


The school’s accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission, praised GCU’s transparency in 2021: “Their recruitment and marketing materials are clear and transparent, and financial information presented to students throughout the student lifecycle is robust,” adding that information on its doctoral program provides prospective students “a clear picture of their academic and financial path.”

GCU says it is being targeted because it has sued the department for refusing to recognize it as a nonprofit college.

Wall Street Journal Editorial, Biden’s Regulators Gang Up on a Christian College:

Grand Canyon University, America’s largest Christian college, has kept tuition flat for 15 years while prices are up nearly 70% on average at other colleges. So why is the Biden Administration waging a regulatory assault against the college? ...

GCU warns it may have to raise tuition if legal fees and fines escalate. It also claims the government is retaliating because the school sued the Education Department for refusing to recognize its nonprofit status. That’s possible. Progressive regulators may also dislike that enrollment at the conservative Christian college has been growing while some liberal private colleges struggle.

Whatever the Administration’s motive, the victims of its hit job will be students.

Editor's Note:  If you would like to receive a weekly email each Sunday with links to the faith posts on TaxProf Blog, email me here.

Faith, Legal Education | Permalink