Biden administration sues largest Christian university in U.S.

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The Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday announced it has sued Grand Canyon University (GCU), becoming the second agency under the Biden administration to take action against the largest Christian school in the nation within the past few months in what the university says is a coordinated attack by multiple agencies against the institution.

The FTC said in a press release it filed suit in federal court against GCU, its marketer Grand Canyon Education, Inc. and its president and CEO Brian Mueller, claiming the defendants used deceptive advertising and engaged in illegal telemarketing.

President Biden speaks at an economic event at the Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce in Milwaukee on Dec. 20. Biden’s FTC is suing Grand Canyon University after his DOE fined the school $37.7 million over allegations of false advertising. (Jamie Kelter Davis/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

The complaint says the Arizona-based school misled prospective doctoral students about the amount of time it would take to finish its accelerated program, deceptively marketed the school as a nonprofit, and illegally called prospective students who submitted their contact information on the school’s website but requested not to be contacted.

“Grand Canyon deceived students by holding itself out as a non-profit institution and misrepresenting the costs and number of courses required to earn doctoral degrees,” Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “We will continue to aggressively pursue those who seek to take advantage of students.”

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The complaint accuses GCU of violating the FTC Act and the Telemarketing Sale Rules, and is asking the U.S. District Court in Arizona to force GCU to compensate consumers for the alleged violations and to prohibit the university “from further violations of the law.”

Lina Khan

Lina Khan, chair of the Federal Trade Commission, speaks during a House Appropriation Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., on May 18, 2022. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

A spokesperson for GCU did not immediately respond to FOX Business’ request for comment on the lawsuit, but Mueller told Fox News Digital in late October that he believes the university is unfairly being targeted by the Biden administration, saying multiple federal agencies were involved in a coordinated attack against the school.

Shortly after that, on Oct. 31, the Department of Education (DOE) fined GCU $37.7 million, saying an investigation conducted by the office of Federal Student Aid found the university “lied” to over 7,500 former and current students about the cost of its doctoral programs over several years.

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The DOE said in a press release that GCU “falsely advertised” a lower cost for its doctoral programs, adding that about 98% of students ended up paying more than the advertised cost. 

FSA Investigation

According to a DOE press release, an investigation conducted by the office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) found that GCU “lied” to over 7,500 former and current students about the cost of its doctoral programs over several years.  (REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein / Reuters Photos)

Mueller has argued the federal investigations are tied to the DOE denying GCU’s effort to convert into a nonprofit institution in 2018. The department denied GCU’s nonprofit status for purposes of federal student financial aid, which continues to classify the school as a for-profit entity.

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In a press conference last month, Mueller vowed GCU would appeal the DOE’s fine — the largest the agency has ever issued — and said the school does not mislead or deceive students in any way.

FOX News Digital’s Joshua Nelson contributed to this report.

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