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Feds refuse to drop $37M fine, lawsuit against GCU despite audit finding no fault with Christian school

A state auditor’s office recently completed a review that found no proof there is any wrongdoing on the part of Grand Canyon University, but two federal agencies are continuing with their campaigns against the Christian university despite the findings.

The Arizona State Approving Agency, an arm of the state’s Department of Veteran Services, issued a determination Feb. 20 that risks identified by “court actions by the government” could not be substantiated, which means the private nonprofit’s students can still use GI bill funding to pay tuition.

“They said, ‘Zero findings. Not a single one. Not one,’” University President Brian Mueller told KSTAR on March 12. “That’s very hard to do if you’ve ever been through those kinds of program reviews.”

Grand Canyon University representative Bob Romantic told The College Fix in an interview that the audit addressed “all three of the central complaints of the FTC lawsuit” and found them lacking. He provided a copy of the findings to The Fix.

Romantic said the university continues to be “targeted” by what he described as “systemic attacks being made against GCU that we believe are retaliation for filing our lawsuit against the DOE.”

The Arizona State Approving Agency did not respond to The Fix’s request for comment.

The findings are the latest development in ongoing legal battles between Grand Canyon University and the U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC alleges in its Dec. 27 lawsuit that GCU misrepresented the number of continuation courses required to complete a doctoral degree, resulting in a substantially higher price tag for students. They also claim the university engaged in unlawful telemarketing and marketing practices.

The commission has not dropped its lawsuit against GCU.

On Oct. 31, the Department of Education levied a fine of $37.7 million against GCU, accusing the university of “substantial misrepresentations” about the costs to complete its doctoral programs, as The College Fix previously reported.

GCU appealed the fine in November, calling it “unprecedented” in a news release.

“We’ve just hired the foremost attorney in the country at trying cases in front of the Supreme Court and it is our hope that this is such an egregious situation that the Supreme Court would hear this,” Mueller told Fox 10 on March 11.

Mueller has repeatedly made public statements arguing the Biden administration is maliciously targeting the Christian university, one of the largest in the nation.

The U.S. Department of Education did not respond to a request from The College Fix seeking comment.

Although the FTC accuses GCU of misrepresenting its degree costs, a degree calculator function on their website currently states the average number of continuation courses required for past students for each doctoral degree program in clear, red font above the program’s price listings.

Romantic said the school has always been upfront about its costs and “GCU’s disclosures are more transparent than other universities and provide more information than is legally required in an effort to benefit students.”

MORE: Ed Dept. sued over lack of transparency in fining Christian university $37.7 million

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Sophia Vitter is a student at the University of Calgary majoring in international relations. She grew up just outside of Washington, D.C., where she developed an interest in global affairs and politics.