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Why Is Biden Admin Targeting Grand Canyon University? We’re Suing to Find Out.

February 14, 2024

Grand Canyon University (GCU) in Phoenix is a successful private Christian university that has provided innovative solutions to many vexing problems in higher education. The university enrolls students in every conceivable discipline, and has grown and thrived without raising tuition on its students in over 15 years. Yet despite its obvious success, the Biden Administration has targeted GCU with a $37 million fine—and has refused to provide documents that explain why. Now, the Goldwater Institute is suing the Biden Administration to hold the government accountable and get the answers the public deserves.

In October 2023, the U.S. Department of Education assessed a record fine of $37 million against GCU—the largest fine of its kind ever assessed by the department. By comparison, the department assessed a mere $2.4 million fine against Penn State for failing to report the crimes of serial pedophile Jerry Sandusky, and a $4.5 million fine against Michigan State, when that school refused to address sexual assaults committed by its athletic director, Larry Nassar, who abused more than 500 students.

Contrast those small fines and those egregious crimes with the government’s complaint against GCU. The purported reason for the unprecedented fine was that the school insufficiently informed PhD students that they may have to take continuing courses while completing their doctoral dissertations. Though the government makes broad claims against the university, the federal government did not cite any student’s complaints, nor did Education Department personnel even visit GCU as part of their purported “investigation.”

After this unprecedented fine was announced, the Goldwater Institute submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the department seeking emails between key individuals of the Education Department and other federal agencies that discuss the department’s fine against GCU. The records may help inform the public about this extraordinary fine, as well as coordination between various federal agencies in what appears to be the intentionally targeting of a successful university—one that’s no stranger to run-ins with the feds—based on extraordinarily thin allegations.

The Department of Education is refusing to turn over these public records—so we’re suing the agency in federal court to get them anyway.

With its motto of “private, Christian, affordable” and its track record of graduating students into high-demand and high-paying jobs, GCU is a success story by any metric. And it stands apart from universities across the country that are facing declining enrollment, that are indoctrinating students with radical politics, and that are under attack for failing to defend the First Amendment.

So then why are the feds targeting GCU, a popular university that seems to be doing everything right? That’s exactly what we’re going to find out.

You can read our complaint here, and find out more about the case here.

Stacy Skankey is a Staff Attorney at the Goldwater Institute.



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