Grand Canyon University said Wednesday it plans to appeal a $37.7 million fine issued by the U.S. Department of Education.
The university of roughly 118,000 students said it will notify the Education Department on Thursday that it is appealing the decision. The agency levied the fine against the university last month, saying an investigation determined Grand Canyon had falsely advertised the cost of its doctoral programs.
Grand Canyon has refuted the Education Department’s findings. In a statement last month, it said the university “will take all measures necessary to defend itself from these false accusations.”
The university’s president, Brian Mueller, plans to hold a press conference Thursday explaining the institution’s appeal and next steps, according to a media advisory. Mueller also plans to share information that the university says contradicts the Education Department’s findings.
Grand Canyon has accused the Education Department and other government agencies of retaliating against the university over an ongoing lawsuit.
The legal challenge hearkens to 2019, when the Education Department refused to approve Grand Canyon’s bid to become a nonprofit. At the time, the department pointed to an ongoing financial relationship between the university and its former owner.
Although the IRS approved the change, the Education Department still treats Grand Canyon as a for-profit for the purposes of Title IV financial aid, subjecting it to stricter regulations. The university sued the department in 2021 over the agency’s decision.
A judge upheld the Education Department’s decision in late 2022, but Grand Canyon appealed. Oral arguments are scheduled for December.
An Education Department spokesperson said Wednesday the fine will be effective Nov. 20 unless the university requests a hearing before the agency’s Office of Hearing and Appeals or sends materials to the Federal Student Aid office explaining why the penalty shouldn’t be imposed.