Grand Canyon University in Phoenix plans to appeal a multi-million-dollar fine from the US Department of Education.
The Feds accuse the school of lying about the cost of its doctoral programs. It impacts 7,500 current and former students.
One of those former students is Brandon Quezada.
He graduated from Arizona State in 2016 with his masters in secondary education with a concentration in English. But, he didn’t want to stop there.
When he saw GCU was offering a four-year doctorate program, he signed up.
“I had reached out and had multiple interviews and questions set up for one of their counselors who told me, ‘Yep, as long as you don’t take any breaks, you will get through the program. You’ll finish by 2023 if you start in 2018,'” he said.
Student shares his experience after GCU is fined millions
The promise of a four-year doctorate program, he said, won him over.
However, it didn’t take long to see signs of trouble.
“All of a sudden they started mentioning, ‘Well it typically takes about seven years. Four years for the program, which is all your required classes, and then three years for the dissertation. That means it’s a total of seven years. That was never told to me,” Quezada said.
Then there’s the cost.
He says he was told it would be between $40,000 and $49,000. But actually, the cost doubled that.
“It ended up becoming so much more than that. I’m over $100,000 right now in debt,” he said.
In the end, Quezada left the doctorate program in 2022.
“They went ahead and gave me what they call an educational specialist degree which is beyond a masters yet a little under a doctorate,” he said.
More than the money, he regrets the time he lost along the way.
“That hundred thousand is nowhere near the price that has been put on the time and the sacrifices I’ve made with my friends my family and my personal life,” he said.
Federal Student Aid, an office of the US Department of Education, investigated the school’s doctoral program and said “GCU lied about the cost of its doctoral programs to attract students to enroll.”
Something the university president strongly denies.
GCU fined millions by the feds
Federal education officials announced on Oct. 31 that they are fining Grand Canyon University to the tune of tens of millions of dollars as a result of an investigation. Here’s what to know about the findings from the investigation, as well as the private university’s response to the matter.
“Specific to doctoral students, the information and resources provided are robust and thorough providing prospective students a clear picture of their academic and financial path toward a degree at GCU,” GCU President Brian Mueller said on Nov. 1.
Mueller calls GCU the gold standard of transparency.
The same school is now facing a more than $37 million fine.
Mueller says the campus has 26 regulatory bodies that review the university’s work and that the GCU will appeal the ruling.