Nation’s largest Christian college fights back after Biden’s education secretary vows to target the school: ‘Shut them down’

Grand Canyon University, the world’s largest Christian college, is fighting back after Education Secretary Miguel Cardona vowed to target the school.

At a House Appropriations Committee hearing this month, GCU became a topic of discussion when Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) asked Cardona how his agency is tackling “predatory for-profit colleges.”

In his response, Cardona didn’t reference GCU specifically, but he did allude to the school.

Cardona told DeLauro the Education Department is “going after predatory schools,” which he claimed “have a shiny brochure and a great commercial, but the product is not worth the paper it’s written on.” Cardona promised to “crack down” on such schools, invoking an example of how his agency has already done so: fining GCU nearly $38 million last year.

“We are cracking down on them, not only to shut them down, but to send a message across the country that you cannot prey on our students and expect to be successful,” Cardona explained.

Last year, the Department of Education fined GCU $37.7 million, claiming an investigation found that “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,” the agency claimed.

GCU has denied the claims are true and is refusing to pay the fine.

Now, GCU is forcefully pushing back against Cardona’s latest comments.

“Mr. Cardona’s inflammatory comments, which are legally and factually incorrect, are so reckless that GCU has no choice but to demand an immediate retraction,” the school said in a statement. “He is either confused, misinformed, or does not understand the actions taken by his own agency.”

The statement continued:

There are no factually supportable allegations that warrant an attempt to shut down GCU and, in fact, ED has already granted a three-year extension of GCU’s provisional program participation agreement that allows it to continue to receive Title IV financial aid dollars. Those Title IV funds go directly to students, who can use them at whatever institution they choose. More are choosing GCU than any other university in the U.S., which does not happen if you are deceiving a small number of students as ED claims.

Moreover, GCU says school officials have asked the Education Department for evidence to prove its claims that GCU has lied to or preyed on students. But the agency hasn’t provided such evidence.

“As Mr. Cardona’s comments confirm, those opinions reflect a deeply held bias against GCU, which has manifested itself in his Department’s selective and punitive enforcement actions against the university,” GCU said.

School officials said they are prepared to take their fight with the government all the way to the Supreme Court.

“[The Education Department’s] conduct related to GCU goes well beyond normal regulatory activity. It epitomizes the weaponization of federal agencies’ power against a private Christian university,” the school said. “To borrow a term ED uses liberally to describe every for-profit institution it is trying to harm, the comments by Mr. Cardona and actions taken by his Department are predatory in nature and designed to achieve their own ideological agenda.”

Currently, GCU enrolls more than 118,000 students in residence and online programs.

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