Federal Investigation Spurs Record Fine for Largest Christian University in the US

The largest Christian university in the country is facing a $37.7 million fine from the federal government stemming from accusations that the university misled students about the cost of graduate programs.

Grand Canyon University, a mostly online university with over 100,000 students, has said the allegations are “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 school said in a five-page statement.

According to Religion News Service, the Education Department found that Grand Canyon lied to some 7,500 current and former students about the cost of doctoral programs.

“When colleges lie to students, it costs them time and money they’ll never get back,” said Aaron Ament, president of the group Student Defense. “We’re glad to see the Department of Education take action to prevent graduate schools from misleading students about the costs of their programs, and we hope they will continue to crack down on these types of predatory schemes.”

Grand Canyon University allegedly told students that those programs cost between $40,000 and $49,000, but an investigation found that just 2 percent of graduates completed programs with a cost that high. Instead, about 78 percent of graduate students paid between $10,000 to $12,000 for their programs.

“GCU’s lies harmed students, broke their trust, and led to unexpectedly high levels of student debt,” said Richard Cordray, chief operating officer for Federal Student Aid, an office in the Education Department. “Today, we are holding GCU accountable for its actions, protecting students and taxpayers, and upholding the integrity of the federal student aid programs.”

The university has 20 days to appeal the fine and to receive any additional federal money, and Grand Canyon will have to meet new requirements, such as using the average cost paid by graduates in its estimate to prospective students and reporting any investigations or lawsuits to the Education Department.

Grand Canyon is currently in another legal battle with the Education Department. In 2021, Grand Canyon sued the department after it rejected the school’s request to be classified as a nonprofit college.

Photo Courtesy: ©Getty Images/alfexe

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.

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