Liberty University files lawsuit against Gov. Ralph Northam, claiming discrimination against online students

Lawsuit is in reference to a change in the 2020 Virginia Budget


LYNCHBURG, Va. – Liberty University has filed a lawsuit against Virginia on the basis of discrimination.

The legal complaint alleges that amendments to the 2020 Virginia Budget wrongly exclude Virginia’s online students from receiving the Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant, according to Liberty.

The university filed the suit against Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Peter Blake, the director of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

Since 1973, the state of Virginia has provided economic assistance to Virginia residents seeking higher education through its VTAG program and until 2020, students, regardless of being online or in-person, could apply to receive funding.

Now, according to Liberty, the budget excludes awards to new students enrolled “in an online education or distance learning program.”

In a news release announcing the lawsuit, Liberty University called the change “unconstitutional discrimination.”

“For the past 20 years, online resources have proven an increasingly important tool that higher education institutions employ to educate students, and the VTAG program has played an important role in making higher education available to all Virginia students regardless of their circumstances,” said Jerry Prevo, acting president of Liberty. “Students often elect to enroll at Liberty and other academic institutions offering online courses for the flexibility and accessibility they need as non-traditional students who are working parents, parents providing child care, military members and veterans, first responders, and economically disadvantaged students. Online courses have also provided educational access for students whose health or medical issues make on-campus attendance impractical, as well as others who require flexibility in terms of where and when they access educational materials. The 2020 VTAG amendments harm all of these groups, and others.”

The case is currently pending in the United States District Court For The Western District Of Virginia Lynchburg Division.

Below you can read the full 34-page case filing:

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