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Liberty Sues Va. Governor Over Financial Aid

Liberty University is suing Virginia governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat, in federal court, The Washington Post reported Friday.

The lawsuit concerns a budget amendment made last year that carved out exemptions in the state’s Tuition Assistance Grant program for students taking classes entirely online. Thousands of Virginia students taking classes online at Liberty are set to lose access to the state tuition grant.

The university is arguing that the distinction between online and in-person courses is arbitrary for the purposes of the grant, which is for Virginia students taking classes at private nonprofit institutions within the state, regardless of financial need. According to federal data from 2019, more than 70 percent of undergraduates and 90 percent of graduate students at Liberty take classes exclusively online. The university enrolls about 85,500 students in total.

The university relies heavily on state and federal financial aid, and the lawsuit says the changes “threaten to wreak severe economic and reputational harm” on the institution, the Post reported.

A spokesperson for the governor told the Post she could not comment on the lawsuit, but she said, “Governor Northam has made it a top priority to expand access to affordable, high-quality education.”

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