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Recent Audit Ends with ‘No Findings’ Impacting Grand Canyon University’s VA Approval

The auditing agency made an in-person visit to GCU’s campus.

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A recent risk-based audit by the Arizona State Approving Agency (SAA) for the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs concluded in February with “no findings impacting the continued approval of Grand Canyon University (GCU) at this time.”

The Jerry Colangelo Museum at Grand Canyon University is seen at dusk in Phoenix, on Sept. 20, 2017 / AP Photo Matt York, File

The SAA is responsible for reviewing, evaluating, and approving universities “to ensure state and federal quality criteria are met for veterans using their G.I. Bill funds.”

It also works to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse of funds from the G.I. Bill, which is intended to provide benefits to military veterans.

According to a press statement by GCU, the school has a “longstanding positive relationship” with SAA. The statement says, SAA made an in-person visit to GCU’s campus to understand the doctoral program better, including what it takes for a student to complete a dissertation, how the university measures student success, and the support services made available to students.

The SAA audit was triggered by a recent lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleging GCU was deceptive and misrepresentation its doctoral programs and nonprofit status. The university was also fined $37.7 million by the federal Department of Education for misleading students about the cost of its doctoral program. GCU denies the allegations and has appealed the fines.

GCU called the FTC lawsuit and Department of Education fine “part of coordinated and targeted actions the federal government is taking against the largest Christian university in the country” in its press statement.

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On Feb. 13, the Goldwater Institute filed a lawsuit against the Department of Education seeking to compel its release of documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

It is seeking emails between employees of the Education Department and other federal agencies that discuss the sizable fine against GCU.

The Goldwater Institute believes these documents could inform the public about the reasons for the fine’s large size when compared with other universities. It may also show “coordination between various federal agencies in what appears to be the intentionally targeting of a successful university based on extraordinarily thin allegations.”

In the MinistryWatch database, Grand Canyon University earns a “C” transparency grade, a five-star financial efficiency rating, and a donor confidence score of 73 out of 100, meaning donors can give with confidence. It is not a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a freelance writer who holds a Juris Doctorate from Baylor University. She has home schooled her three children and is happily married to her husband of 25 years.