Report: #1052822

Complaint Review: Grand Canyon University

  • Submitted: Tue, May 21, 2013
  • Updated: Tue, May 21, 2013
  • Reported By: RM — Winchester Virginia
  • Grand Canyon University
    3300 W. Camelback Road
    Phoenix, Select State/Province

Grand Canyon University Incompetent Financial Aid Practices Phoenix Arizona

*Author of original report: Follow-up

*UPDATE Employee: GCU Student Resolutions

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In May 2011, I applied to and was accepted to the online MBA program at Grand Canyon University. I applied for financial aid and learned that I did not qualify for Federal Loans because I had exceeded the lending limits. My GCUFinancial Counselor - TJ Montoya suggested that I apply for a GradPlus loan. I applied and qualified for the loan.




MAY 13, 2011

Dear R

We have reviewed your credit record and we are pleased to inform you that you qualify for a Direct PLUS Loan. Our decision was based on information obtained in a credit report from:
P 0 BOX 740241

The school has also been informed of our decision. This approval does not guarantee you will receive a Direct PLUS Loan. The school will contact you with its final decision on your application. If the school decides to offer you a Direct PLUS Loan, you will receive additional information regarding the approved application for the loan.

If you have any questions regarding our decision or the information above, the Customer Service Center is available to assist you from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.
We can be reached, toll-free, at 1-800-557-7394. The hearing impaired toll-free TDD number is 1-877-461-7010.

Please address all correspondence to:
U.S. Department of Education
Applicant Services .
P.O. Box 5691
Montgomery, AL 36103-5691


I completed and submitted the required GCU financial aid documentation to my financial aid and enrollment counselors.  The financial aid and academic year cycle for the online program does not follow traditional Fall/Spring/Summer cycle since courses are taken year round.  GCU has a customized Academic Year/Financial Payment process that is a challenge to understand.

Until GCU, I had only attended traditional 'on ground' institutions so I was a bit concerned how financial aid would be applied. I was unsuccesful in getting a response from my financial aid counselor and before I started my first course (orientation class), I began to have reservations about the college.  I  communicated via email and recorded conversations with my enrollment counselor about my unease. Additionally, I spoke with my academic counselor and asked her how I could get my financial aid counselor changed. She suggested I schedule a call with the financial aid and enrollment counselor to address my concerns. 

In a number of conversations - email and recorded - I stated to my enrollment counselor that I would not log into the 'Angel' LMS to begin my courses unless my financial account was in order. I explicitly stated that I could not afford to pay for my education out of pocket and I did not want to become indebted to the school due to any mistakes. I also requested a change in my financial aid counselor as I did not feel he was working in my best interest.  My request was unheeded.

I started class on June 14th and although the my.gcu interface noted that my financial aid had been processed, funds had not been released. After NUMEROUS conversations and conference calls with my financial aid and enrollment counselor - my financial aid was received and applied to my account.

In January 2012, GCU financial aid returned $10756 to the lender because GCU Financial Aid Office processed the wrong loan in June 2011. I am not sure how this happened as I was ineligible for the Federal Stafford loans and had signed a MPN for a Grad Plus loan.

01/09/2012     Refund - D UNSUB 2010-11           $0.00     ($5,378.00)    
01/09/2012     Refund - D UNSUB 2010-11           $0.00     ($5,378.00)

By that time I had received two 'stipends' and had attended an orientation course and completed 12 out of 66 credit hours.  Additionally, my original financial aid counselor - TJ Montoya -  had been fired (sometime in 2011) and I was assigned a new counselor - Celia. 

Because my gradplus loan had not been 'activated' by GCU in time it not only expired but was no longer available for use. Because the financial aid year for 2010/2011 had passed, I could not reapply for the loan. This left me with a high balance. Celia explained that I had to have a zero balance in order to graduate.  She suggested that I try to make payments on the account [of any amount] to reduce the balance. She stated that because of the high balance my account was flagged every start of a course and that she had to submit an exception to permit me to progress through my program. She stated that she and her manager were my advocates and were doing everything they could to help me. By Feb 2012,  I had completed approx. 24 credits of 66 toward my degree. In April 2012, I began making voluntary payments of $75 every two weeks with the intention of increasing the payments as I was able. I did not sign any payment plan agreement nor did I receive any advisement about a payment plan option. The my.gcu accounts interface did not reflect that I was on a payment plan.

In July of 2012, Celia began threatening that if I did not return my stipend checks and apply them towards the balance - I would not be permitted to continue with my program. Her 'threats' were couched in wording like - "I cannot tell you what to do with your stipend, but you should...." When I requested she stop threatening me and simply let me know if I would be disenrolled, she stated she was not threatening me... and she stopped requesting I apply my stipend to the balance.

Up until March of 2013, I had made consistent payments. I missed the two payments in April and May due to financial hardship. I did not receive any correspondence from GCU about the missed payments nor a phone call or email from Celia  and I did not expect any of these actions as the payments - as far as I knew - were voluntary. It was my understanding that Celia knew that my intention was to have the balance paid off by May 2014 - by graduation.

I received an email from Celia tonight (May 21, 2013) which states:

"I called to discuss your account. My manager and I were reviewing the account and the last payment was on 3/11/2013  As of now the balance is at 8431.00 with the payment plan no longer valid I cannot allow you to continue to the next course.  Please feel free to contact me or Mike Gardelius to discuss. Thank you!"

According to my.gcu records I owe -$6,146.00 from 2010/2011. The $8431 balance includes two new courses

04/18/2013     LDR-610 - Power, Politics and Influence   | $2,285.00    
06/13/2013     BUS-660 - Quantitative Methods  | $2,285.00   

Which my 2012/2013 or 2013/2014 GradPlus loans should cover.

At this point, I have completed 50 credits of 66 and only have four (4) courses remaining to complete a dual degree program - in which I have maintained an Enrollment c*m. GPA  3.80.  In the past, I have attempted on several occasions to contact Celia's supervisor - Mr. Gardelius and he does not return ANY of my phone calls. He and Celia do not return ANY of my emails.

I have submitted a complaint to the Better Business Bureau - Better Business Bureau (Phoenix, AZ) 4428 N. 12th Street Phoenix, AZ 85014-4585 - complaint#9552091.

I have responded to Celia's email and have requested the contact information for the Director of Financial Aid. It is highly probable she will not respond to my email. I have made her aware of my escalation steps:

I will attempt to reach the Director of Financial Aid by way of the Chancellor of the school. I plan to send emails to all Arizona news agencies to make them aware of the questionable financial aid practices - which has crossed the border of incompetence. I will engage an attorney and at minimum will sue the school for "pain and suffering" along with the anxiety they have caused due to their mistake.

If you are interested in joining me in a class action suit against GCU please respond to this report.

I am very sorry that I did not find this site sooner. However, as a software engineer (I have a Master of SWE from another college), I will be using whatever online resources to help spread the word of what appears to be corruption and incompetence with GCU's Financial Aid Department.

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Updates & Rebuttals


#1 Author of original report


AUTHOR: RManuel - ()

 In the interest of keeping my report up-to-date, I responded to GCU's resolution team with the following email:


-------- Original Message --------

Subject: Fwd: Re: GCU Military Finance
Date: Wed, 29 May 2013 23:33:08 -0400
From: R

   To whom this may concern,
    I received the follow-up message on from and am responding to your request to assist     me in resolving this issue.
    Per my email response to Mr. Gardelius, I plan to withdraw from GCU     and continue my education at another university. However, I am     willing to work with GCU's resolution team - IF - the offer is     sincere.
    What are the next steps in this process?
    If I do not receive a response by 5pm GCU, Friday, 31 May - I will assume that your team had no intentions of assisting me and I will continue with my escalation plan; that is - to contact the Department of Education as well as the accrediting agencies that govern GCU to further my grievance. 



I will update this report to inform readers on whether or not these 'canned' responses from GCU's resolution team are genuine or a ploy.

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#2 UPDATE Employee

GCU Student Resolutions

AUTHOR: GrandCanyonUniversity - ()

Hello RManuel, 

We are very sorry you are unhappy with your experience.  Grand Canyon University (GCU) is committed to the success of its students and values the opportunity to resolve disputes. GCU’s resolution team provides options designed to address student issues, and is available to assist with your grievance. Please contact the resolutions office at and we will start working on your issue immediately.  

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