Howard University students have been protesting on university grounds for days following a news story that six university officials who worked in the financial aid office were fired for stealing financial aid money, such as lending themselves grants and scholarships.
The university hired an auditor who found the six employees have been misappropriating financial aid funds for over nine years. The employees were using the money to give themselves grants to attend classes, while receiving tuition remission. The investigator found that the money taken from the funds surpassed the amount of funds needed for class, which lead to employees pocketing the difference.
The incident was brought to light March 27 by an anonymous writer. The writer posted a report to Medium claiming that $1 million in financial aid was diverted between 2013 and 2017.
Many claim Howard University President Wayne Fredrick and his admiration were aware of the fraud since 2017, but kept it under wraps in hopes to save the university’s reputation.
“I was alerted in December 2016 that there may have been some misappropriation of University-provided financial aid funds,” President Frederick said in a statement on March 28, assuring students that funds embezzled from 2007 to 2016 by university employees did not result in a loss of student financial aid.
Out of the six individuals, only two have been identified: Brian Johnson, former associate director of financial aid, and law student Tyrone Hankerson Jr. Together, they received $429,612 in grants and scholarships.
Incidents like this should not be kept under wraps because this affects many students’ opportunities to attend college. Many students rely on financial aid to get through their college career.
The Howard University president stated they have made significant new policies and procedures to help strengthen the internal security at the university.
Although security changes have been made, students are still furious at how slow these changes are taking. Many students are also concerned about receiving the money they should have received years ago.
Students at the university stayed in the admiration building overnight, working on homework, hanging up signs demanding change and blocking administrators from the building. Members of the board of trustees waited outside the building to meet with student protestors to hear their concerns.
“I am listening to you, and I am challenging my team to make the changes you are expressing a dire need to see,” Frederick said Friday, responding to a broad list of demands from the group #StudentPowerHU.