Six Howard University employees were fired last year for stealing money from the financial aid department, the president confirmed Wednesday.
An external auditor found that six staffers received grants and tuition remission that exceeded the total cost of attendance and took the difference, Howard president Wayne Frederick announced in a statement. The fraud took place between 2007 and 2016.
Allegations of fraud surfaced this week in an anonymous blog post on Medium, which has since been removed. The post claimed the employees misappropriated almost $1 million.
Howard did not reveal how much money was stolen. “We don’t have a final amount but we are working with our outside experts to ensure every dollar is accounted for and the university will exercise all of our options to recoup the funds,” Alonda Thomas, a Howard spokesperson, told The Washington Post.
The president launched an internal investigation in 2016 after learning that funds might have been misused by the office of financial aid. External auditors gave the president the results in May. Two months later, in July, the president “self-reported” the findings to the Department of Education.
After the university finished investigating individual employees in September, six were fired for “gross misconduct and neglect of duties.”
The college also hired a financial aid consultant to investigate any misuse of federal funds. The company hasn’t found anything yet.
Howard’s student association met with the administration yesterday to discuss the matter, according to a post on Twitter.
In response to the fraud, the college has tightened its financial aid approval processes, Frederick wrote.
“The financial integrity of Howard University’s operations is paramount and strong measures have been taken following the [outside auditor's] investigation to ensure this never happens again,” Frederick wrote. “While this has been a very difficult and disappointing situation, I know our campus community deserves better and I am committed to ensuring that each of our campus offices operate with integrity and are the best that higher education has to offer.”