Meagan Fitzgerald et al., NBC News, March 29, 2018
Six Howard University employees were fired last year after an internal investigation found the financial aid office had misappropriated university-based grants to some university employees, the school’s president said Wednesday.
According to a statement from Wayne Frederick, Howard University president, an outside auditor found that several university employees received grants in addition to discounts on tuition that exceeded the total cost of tuition and kept the difference.
Frederick said he was told in December 2016 that there may have been “some misappropriation of university-provided financial aid funds,” and launched an internal investigation.
The grants came from institutional funds that help low-income students pay tuition. Frederick said the grants came from the university and were not federal or donor funds.
Tuition remission allows eligible employees or their dependents to receive discounted tuition at the university. Full-time employees eligible to receive tuition remission can take two classes per semester for free, according to the university’s website. Tuition at Howard for the 2017-2018 school year was $12,061 per semester, not including room and board.
Frederick’s statement came after an anonymous post on Medium.com claimed financial aid employees at the university stole nearly $1 million in funds.
Criminal charges have not yet been filed.
A man who worked in the financial aid office for years said he tried to report inappropriate activity.
“It was a culture of fear where you had a lot of people who were afraid of the powers that be in the office,” he said. He asked News4 to withhold his name.
“When these things were brought to [officials’] attention, they were just handled in a way that made people afraid to speak up. And that whole culture is still present, and it starts from the top,” he continued.