Education

U.S. Department of Education Fines Grand Canyon University $37.7 Million for Misrepresenting Doctoral Program Costs

"U.S. Department of Education Fines Grand Canyon University $37.7 Million for Misrepresenting Doctoral Program Costs"

Education

The U.S. Department of Education, through its office of Federal Student Aid (FSA), has announced a $37.7 million fine against Grand Canyon University (GCU) for deceptive practices related to the cost of its doctoral programs. An extensive investigation by FSA uncovered that GCU had consistently misrepresented the cost of these programs to attract students, resulting in unexpected financial burdens for thousands of students.

GCU was found to have falsely advertised a lower cost for its doctoral programs, claiming that they ranged from $40,000 to $49,000. However, the investigation revealed that less than 2% of graduates were able to complete their programs within the advertised cost, with the majority incurring additional expenses for “continuation courses” necessary to complete their degrees. In some cases, students had to pay $10,000 to $12,000 more in tuition costs than GCU had explicitly advertised, constituting approximately a 25% increase.

In response to these findings, the Department of Education has imposed a $37.7 million fine on GCU, holding the institution accountable for its actions and upholding the integrity of federal student aid programs. The fine is accompanied by specific conditions that GCU must meet to continue participating in these programs, including:

Condition A: GCU is prohibited from making substantial misrepresentations about the cost of obtaining a degree in its doctoral programs. If GCU provides cost information to prospective or current doctoral students, it must disclose the average total tuition and fees paid by graduates and the maximum number of eligible credits for Title IV funds.

Condition B: GCU must engage a monitor to oversee its compliance with Condition A.

Condition C: GCU is required to report quarterly to the Department regarding investigations, actions, or legal proceedings initiated by its accrediting agency or any government agency and pending litigation where class certification is sought.

Condition D: GCU must notify all currently enrolled doctoral students about how to use the Department’s feedback center to submit complaints.

Condition E: GCU must inform its current employees involved in recruiting, admissions, and other services to doctoral students about how to use the FSA Tips line to report misconduct or violations.

The Provisional Program Participation Agreement (PPPA) governs GCU’s participation in federal student aid programs for the next three years. In the 2020–21 academic year, GCU enrolled over 100,000 students, offering a wide range of certificate, undergraduate, and graduate degree programs both in person and online.

FSA Chief Operating Officer Richard Cordray emphasized the importance of this action, stating, “GCU lied about the cost of its doctoral programs to attract students to enroll. FSA takes its oversight responsibilities seriously. 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.”

This action underscores the Department’s ongoing commitment to enforcing higher education laws and regulations and safeguarding the interests of students, taxpayers, and the integrity of federal student aid programs.

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Biden-Harris Administration Takes Bold Steps to Strengthen Accountability for Colleges and Consumer Protection for Students

"Biden-Harris Administration Takes Bold Steps to Strengthen Accountability for Colleges and Consumer Protection for Students"

The Biden-Harris Administration has announced groundbreaking final regulations aimed at fortifying oversight

Accountability for institutions of higher education while bolstering consumer protections for student borrowers. These rules, set to take effect on July 1, 2024, mark a significant stride towards achieving President Biden’s vision of making college more affordable, holding colleges accountable, and safeguarding the interests of taxpayers and students.

In his statement, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona highlighted the pressing need for these regulations, stating, “Too many students have been abandoned by shady colleges that close their doors and leave borrowers with unaffordable debt and little hope of completing their educational journeys and embarking on rewarding careers. With these final rules, the Biden-Harris Administration is fixing a broken system, which failed to protect students and families, and addresses abuses in higher education that have cost taxpayers billions of dollars in recent years. We are raising the bar for accountability and making sure that when students invest in higher education, they get a solid return on that investment and a greater shot at the American dream.”

The final rules target several critical areas, addressing the Department’s concerns about the abrupt closures of colleges, particularly private for-profit institutions. These closures have left students stranded with limited options to complete their education and placed a financial burden on taxpayers. Additionally, the rules aim to enhance career services and financial aid communication while ensuring that students have clarity on the cost of their education.

The key provisions of the final regulations are as follows:                                                          

  1. Financial Responsibility: These rules establish warning signs that allow the Department to swiftly secure letters of credit or other financial protections when a college exhibits signs of financial risk, such as debt payment issues, lawsuits by Federal or State actors, or a high cohort default rate. This change will discourage risky behavior and protect taxpayers from the costs of sudden closures.
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  3. Administrative Capability: Institutions will be required to provide clearer, more comparable information on financial aid, distinguish between scholarships and loans, and prohibit the withholding of transcripts for federally funded courses. Additionally, they must offer adequate career services and restrict the employment of individuals with a history of mismanagement of Federal student aid programs.
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  5. Certification Procedures: These rules establish additional conditions that the Department can place on institutions when they exhibit warning signs. This may include requiring teach-out plans or agreements, limiting the addition of new programs and locations, and ensuring that student aid is only available for career-training programs that meet State certification or licensure requirements.
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  7. Ability to Benefit: Clearer processes are established for students without a high school diploma or its equivalent to access Federal aid, thus increasing access to postsecondary education

These final regulations build on the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to ensure that colleges are held accountable, students and taxpayers are protected, and education is affordable. Recently, the Department revitalized the gainful employment rule and approved substantial relief for students affected by abrupt college closures. President Biden has also championed significant increases in Pell Grants and proposed tuition-free community college, as well as new tuition assistance at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions.

The Department developed these final rules following extensive public feedback on draft rules published in May. The final regulations will be published in the Federal Register on October 31, 2023.

About the U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education is dedicated to ensuring equal access to education and promoting educational excellence for all Americans. Its mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.

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Union Minister for Education and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Addresses the Global Maritime India Summit (GMIS) 2023

"Union Minister for Education and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Addresses the Global Maritime India Summit (GMIS) 2023"

Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister for Education and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, took the stage at the prestigious Global Maritime India Summit (GMIS), 2023, organized by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways. This summit, one of the world’s largest gatherings dedicated to the maritime industry, witnessed a substantial investment of ₹2.37 lakh crore on its second day in Mumbai.

In his address to the audience, Shri Pradhan lauded the invaluable contributions of seafarers, referring to them as the unsung heroes of the global economy. He emphasized that seafarers play a pivotal role in supporting the maritime industry by enabling global supply chains, facilitating trade, promoting tourism, safeguarding national waters, and contributing significantly to national development.

Highlighting India’s remarkable standing in the global maritime sector, Shri Pradhan shared that India ranks fifth globally in the supply of seafarers, boasting nearly 2.5 lakh seafarers, which account for 12% of the global seafaring community. The minister further expressed the goal of increasing this figure to 20%, underscoring India’s pivotal role in the international maritime workforce.

Shri Pradhan stressed that GMIS 2023 is the first-ever techno-economic summit dedicated to addressing issues of human resource and capacity development in the maritime sector. He acknowledged the government’s decade-long efforts to standardize maritime training, enhance on-board training, improve examination and certification processes, and facilitate ease of doing business in the maritime domain.

The Union Minister highlighted the maritime heritage of India, specifically mentioning the state of Odisha, which has been an epicenter of glorious maritime traditions since ancient times. While cherishing this heritage, he emphasized the importance of leveraging India’s maritime strength to lay the foundation for a new India.

Shri Pradhan expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi for providing leadership in the development of a robust skill-centric and industry-ready ecosystem. He underscored the significance of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 in transforming the knowledge ecosystem, providing high-quality education and skills to all. The NEP 2020, he noted, will play a crucial role in skilling, re-skilling, and up-skilling seafarers, making them future-ready and industry-ready.

The Union Minister also emphasized the government’s commitment to equipping seafarers with future skills, standardizing and equivalencing skills, and providing policy support to engage more Indian female seafarers.

Shri Pradhan acknowledged the GMIS’s role as a platform for collaboration, creating a conducive working environment, and promoting the welfare, rights, and recognition of seafarers, who are the backbone of the shipping industry.

During the day, the summit witnessed the signing of 70 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) across various industries in the maritime sector, including port development and modernization, green hydrogen & and ammonia, business & and commerce, shipbuilding, and port connectivity.

On the first day of the summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated 21 projects worth ₹18,800 crores and witnessed the signing of 34 MoUs worth ₹3.24 lakh crore. This included Green Projects and Projects of Port Development and Modernization. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi also launched Maritime Amrit Kaal Vision 2047, a roadmap for the maritime sector’s development for the next 25 years.

The Global Maritime India Summit 2023 brought together representatives from various countries, international CEOs, and government officials to discuss key areas of the maritime sector, including ports of the future, decarbonization, coastal shipping, shipbuilding, maritime safety, and more.

About the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways

The Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways is committed to fostering the growth and development of India’s maritime sector, promoting trade and transportation, and ensuring the security of the nation’s waters.

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