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Grand Canyon University Fined $37.7 Million for Misrepresenting Doctoral Program Costs

Grand Canyon University, the largest Christian college in the US, has been slapped with a record $37.7 million fine for allegedly misleading students about the cost of its doctoral programs. The university denies the allegations and claims to be the victim of an “unjust targeting” by government agencies.

According to the US Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid, GCU falsely advertised the cost of its doctoral programs, quoting students a lower price than what 98 percent of the programs’ graduates ended up paying.

“GCU lied about the cost of its doctoral programs to attract students to enroll,” said Richard Cordray, of the office of Federal Student Aid. “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.”

The Phoenix-based private university, with over 110,000 students enrolled in on-campus, evening, and online courses, is the largest recipient of federal student aid over the past four years.

The Department of Education said that since most GCU doctoral students required “continuation courses” to complete their dissertation, 78 percent of them paid at least $10,000 more than the $40,000–$49,000 quoted online. It alleges that the inaccurate tuition quotes go back to at least 2017.

The fine against GCU is a stark reminder that even large and well-established universities can be held accountable for misleading students about the cost of their programs. The case also highlights the importance of transparency in higher education pricing.


  • Christianity Today: Grand Canyon University fined $37.7 million for misrepresenting cost of doctoral programs
  • US Department of Education: Office of Federal Student Aid Announces Record-Setting $37.7 Million Fine Against Grand Canyon University for Misrepresenting Cost of Doctoral Programs