Education Department Plans to Close Grand Canyon University Over Deceptive Practices

 April 20, 2024

The U.S. Department of Education has revealed intentions to shut down Grand Canyon University. The move by Education Secretary Miguel Cardona aims to address the institution's misleading practices concerning tuition costs.

Townhall reported that during a recent House Appropriations Committee hearing, Secretary Miguel Cardona detailed the steps his department intends to take against Grand Canyon University (GCU), which he characterized as exploiting its student body with deceptive cost disclosures.

As Cardona stated, the closure of GCU is part of a broader crackdown on predatory educational institutions, which he described as offering subpar education at monumental costs.

Grand Canyon University Faces Critical Claims

Representative Rosa DeLauro supported the department's stringent view by labeling GCU a "predatory for-profit school." The issues at GCU first became prominent last year when the Department of Education accused it of failing to disclose the actual costs of its education services. Students unknowingly paid an additional $10,000 for redundant continuation courses.

The highly publicized financial discrepancies have severely tarnished the university’s reputation. GCU purportedly advertised tuition rates considerably lower than those 98% of their students paid. This discrepancy prompted a significant fine from the education department, highlighting the gap between advertised and actual student costs.

The university strongly denies all allegations and vowed to vigorously defend its practices. A statement from GCU claimed it "categorically denies every accusation" and promised to "take all measures necessary to defend itself from these false accusations."

Response and Defense Amid Accusations

Despite the serious allegations, GCU has found some support within the academic accreditation community. The Higher Learning Commission, which accredits the university, has stated that GCU’s marketing materials are “clear and transparent,” giving a contrasting image to the one painted by federal officials.

Federal Student Aid’s chief operations officer, Richard Cordray, had a stern view of the university’s practices. Richard Cordray highlighted the destructive nature of GCU's misinformation to its students:

GCU lied about the cost of its doctoral programs to attract students to enroll. 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.

These accusations and consequent defenses indicate a large divide in the perception and presentation of GCU’s practices and operational ethics. As the legal battles likely loom, the potential shutdown of GCU would signal a significant milestone in the Department of Education’s efforts to regulate and reform the for-profit college sector.

Differing Perspectives on Educational Transparency

This potential closure also brings to light the complexities of educational funding and the accountability mechanisms in place to protect students. The contrasting statements from federal officials and the accrediting bodies raise questions about the effectiveness of current educational oversight and transparency.

The unfolding situation at GCU will undoubtedly serve as a critical case study in enforcing educational honesty and protecting student interests. The accused institution and the governing bodies remain entrenched in their positions, highlighting the broader tensions within the U.S. education system concerning for-profit educational institutions.

In conclusion, the debate over Grand Canyon University’s future continues to evolve, featuring stark disagreements on the educational costs and the honesty of its advertising.

This case may well define future regulatory actions and reforms in the sector, prompting all educational institutions to reevaluate their disclosure practices and the integrity of their outreach to prospective students.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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