Record Fine for Grand Canyon University

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Rich Douglas, Nov 1, 2023.

  1. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    The Department of Education just fined Grand Canyon University a record $37.7 million for deceiving prospective students about the cost (and the length) of their doctoral programs.

    This is a record fine. As the story below notes, GCU disburses more federal financial aid than any other university.

    Largest Christian university in US faces record fine after federal probe into alleged deception

    I'm not so sure about this. It's hard to predict how long one's doctoral program will take. And schools should charge a small fee for continuing students. But I guess GCU underrepresented the time involved (only 2% of their doctoral students finish in the projected timeframe) and, therefore, the cost.
  2. wmcdonald

    wmcdonald Active Member

    I'm not sure about GCU, but I worked briefly with some who undoubtedly stretched the Dissertation if they possibly could.
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  3. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Yes. But it would have helped, had they cited the actual time previous doctoral grads actually took. Had they done that one simple
    thing - they wouldn't have been lying through their teeth and nobody would have taken a financial shellacking.

    There have been many accounts of GCU problems over the years. Why would a so-called "Christian" University do this sort of thing, anyway? It's clearly contrary to their professed beliefs. Doesn't surprise me, though... not at all.

    GCU has business degree programs. Say, I wonder what the BUSINESS ETHICS courses are like?
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2023
  4. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    One more point on the scoreboard for "The Doctrine of Sacred, Inviolable MONEY."
  5. Michael Burgos

    Michael Burgos Active Member

    I'm not sure what to think about this. Most students don't complete their dissertations on time and have to pay for the associated extensions-- an exceedingly common problem. I am unconvinced that this constitutes deception on the part of GCU.
  6. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Well, the Dept. of Education IS convinced it's deception and has said so, using that word. The rest of us are entitled to our opinions - but that's all. Not surprisingly, to those used to me, I'm with the USDOE on this.

    My take: GCU knowingly used the wrong set of numbers - and got caught. Had they used the right ones, they wouldn't be shelling out $37 million. Sucks to be them.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2023
  7. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Well sure! I mean, if the feds said it, it must be true!
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  8. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Too common. Better to charge a flat rate for the degree, then a small administrative fee if the student goes beyond the prescribed period.
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  9. AsianStew

    AsianStew Moderator Staff Member

    There goes $37.7 million in fines! Ouch, they could have done it the 'proper' way instead of 'misleading cost estimates'... That cash could have gone to staff and students or funding programs, etc. Oh well, what can they do now? Hmm... another slap to their for-profit strategies and tactics, I thought they were going the non-profit way but failed somewhere...
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  10. JoshD

    JoshD Well-Known Member

    I have never done a doctorate and likely never will so I may come off sounding ridiculous but it is my understanding it can take anywhere from 3 years to 6 or 7 years to complete.

    Without seeing everything the feds saw to make this decision, I cannot lean one way or the other but I will say that schools should be 100% transparent…not just GCU.
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  11. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    I get it -- but it's not only the Feds who say so. GCU has 20 days to appeal. The evidence will come out -- people and groups will testify - and I firmly believe there will be LOTS. Controversy has swirled around GCU many times over the years. This may be the 'final conflict.'
  12. Garp

    Garp Well-Known Member

    GCU started life as a for-profit that bought a small Christian College (founded in the 1940s). At one time many people associated with GCU including the President/CEO were former University of Phoenix people. That likely impacted the way GCU was run and did marketing.

    It does claim to be a Christian college but the perhaps a Christian U of Phoenix. They have a nice campus and sports team so perhaps a hybrid is more accurate (more gravitas than the U of P).
  13. Bill Huffman

    Bill Huffman Well-Known Member

    Well the USDOE has lots of detailed information. We have no real details. Making any conclusions at this point is probably jumping the gun. This will be litigated in court. I will trust the conclusions reached in court.

    Of course it is open season on speculation. For example, I can speculate that USDOE has testimony from many professors that they were instructed by the administration to delay the process whenever possible to pad the bottom line.
  14. Michael Burgos

    Michael Burgos Active Member

    Personally, I think the for-profit model has lots of untapped potential and is the natural implication of a free market system. I'd hate to link GCU's alleged wrongdoing (I'm still skeptical about that) with its status as a for-profit institution. Certainly, non-profit universities have not been immune to shady dealings, including tuition chicanery. Despite their seemingly automatic agreement with the fed, some commenters apparently do not understand how procrastination and the subsequent prolonging of a program may cost a student more money. As Rich noted, a flat rate is the preferable alternative. However, even then, institutions generally do not permit a student to work on a project in perpetuity without some kind of financial penalty.
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  15. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    I get where you're gong with that, but the US system of higher education is so far away from being a free market that I honestly wouldn't assume that our normal expectations for market-based behavior to apply.
  16. Bill Huffman

    Bill Huffman Well-Known Member

    I think that a very enlightening paragraph in the article was;

    As far back as 2017, the university told students its doctoral programs would cost between $40,000 and $49,000. The department found that less than 2% of graduates completed programs within the range, with 78% paying an additional $10,000 to $12,000.

    There's no way that potential students would have that insight. I think that it is also a very strong indication that the organization was being dishonest with potential students. Where else in our free market system could a company get away with charging 20% more for about 80% of their customers for a product or service than they advertised? Not very many.
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  17. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Quite the opposite. This is a very reasoned statement.
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  18. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Some forward-thinking schools (like one I consult) are having their professional doctorate students do their dissertations/projects/whatever during their coursework, rather than having them wait until the end. I truly believe this is a great idea. Getting started is a big key to getting done.
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  19. Michael Burgos

    Michael Burgos Active Member

    Well that is just the point, isn't it? Precisely what was told to these students and when... In my present doctoral program, I was told during my second seminar that if we did not meet our project or dissertation goals (there's an option), we would have to pay continuation fees and extend our program (certainly not $10-12k, but then again my program is far cheaper overall).
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  20. jonlevy

    jonlevy Active Member

    GCU has a long standing dispute of some sort with the Feds over money.

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