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Grand Canyon University claims retaliation from federal agency over nonprofit status

Grand Canyon University’s appeal of a so-far unsuccessful suit to force the U.S. Department of Education to label the university a nonprofit goes to the 11th Circuit in December.

Now, GCU is accusing the department and others of retaliation.

According to GCU, the department, the Federal Trade Commission and a state agent of the VA have coordinated recent enforcement actions to hurt the university.

President Brian Mueller said GCU has excellent metrics in areas federal regulators keep a close watch on, such as student debt and post-graduation employment.

“All those things that would require the department to look into are not true about us. So, there has to be something else,” Mueller said.

An Department of Education spokesperson said GCU agreed to federal student aid program rules made to protect students. And they called the department’s actions reasonable and prudent for a regulator.

GCU became a for-profit business about 20 years ago to survive.

The private Christian university based in west Phoenix has since regained nonprofit status in Arizona. But not with the Education Department.

Mueller said the Education Department should follow the lead of the IRS.

“Because you’ve always used the IRS to make the determination. The IRS did make the determination. Secondarily, the state of Arizona. And so all you have to do is what you have always done,” said Mueller.

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Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.