Grand Canyon University (GCU) President Brian Mueller has said that GCU will not pay the $37.7 million fine from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) for alleged deceptive practices, The Christian Post reported.
"The amount of the fine is absolutely ridiculous, but the point is, whether it was one dollar or $38 million, we're not paying a dime," Mueller said. "We are the most transparent institution in the country."
An ED investigation into the private, for-profit school found that GCU allegedly advertised online that its doctoral programs cost $40,000-$49,000 when a staggering minority of its graduates (less than 2%) actually complete their studies within that price range.
According to ED, mandatory "continuation courses" often added $10,000-$12,000 to final costs, and GCU’s fine-print disclosures were inadequate notice of "substantial misrepresentations regarding cost." As such, ED imposed its largest fine in history on the school on Oct. 31.
"GCU's lies harmed students, broke their trust, and led to unexpectedly high levels of student debt,” said Richard Cordray, Chief Operating Officer for ED’s office of Federal Student Aid (FSA). “Today, we are holding GCU accountable for its actions, protecting students and taxpayers, and upholding the integrity of the federal student aid programs."
Mueller disputed ED’s conclusions, claiming that they were indicative of federally coordinated and unjust actions against the nation’s largest Christian university over matters of ideology.
"We've presented at seven major conferences because of our level of transparency," Mueller said. "We give the cost of the entire program to students up front at all three levels — bachelor's, master's and doctoral — when all you're required to do is provide the first year for first-year freshmen.”
ED is also requiring GCU to notify potential students of average degree costs and instruct students on the complaint process.