WASHINGTON - Howard University officials say six employees have been fired, following an internal investigation of misappropriation of University-provided financial aid funding.
President of Howard University, Wayne A. I. Frederick said in a statement on Wednesday, that he was alerted in December 2016 that financial aid funds may have been misappropriated and began an investigation.
Frederick says auditors completed their investigation and reported the results in May 2017.
“The investigation found that from 2007 to 2016, University grants were given to some University employees who also received tuition remission," said the statement.
The audit revealed that for some, the combination of University grants and tuition remission exceeded the total cost of attendance. As a result, some individuals received inappropriate refunds.
The University says it looked into actions of individual employee actions and as a result, six employees were fired from the University “for gross misconduct and neglect of duties. We will refer this matter for criminal prosecution, as appropriate.”
The statement from University officials says these grants are from the institution itself and are not federal funds or donor directed funds.
Frederick said he “self-reported this issue to the Department of Education and assured them we would provide regular updates on the investigation” in July 2017.
Officials say they brought in an outside education firm, Third Coast Higher Education, “to determine if any misappropriation of federal funds occurred. At this point, Third Coast found no misappropriation of federal funds related to this issue.”
Howard University officials say they have put several measures in place including:
- Annual budgets for each category of financial aid are now loaded into the University's Banner student information system by the University Budget Office consistent with the University's overall Financial Aid Budget.
- Approval for all awards of University Grants are now reviewed and approved by the Budget Office prior to being awarded by the Financial Aid Office
- Approval for all donor-designated scholarship awards are now reviewed and approved by the Controller's Office prior to being awarded by the Financial Aid Office.
- Approval for all grant-funded financial aid are now reviewed and approved by the University's Grant Accounting Unit prior to being awarded by the Financial Aid Office.
- Access to the Banner financial aid module has now been limited to a small number of appropriate senior University individuals, with adequate third-party review and appropriate segregation of duties.
- An annual reconciliation of awarded financial aid to approved financial aid is now being conducted.
- Management has established proper reporting relationships and segregation of duties within the Financial Aid Office.
- Management is in the process of hiring for all remaining open positions in the Financial Aid Office and enhanced training on policies and procedures will be provided both to new hires and continuing employees.
- A new Associate Provost for Enrollment Management and a new Chief Compliance Officer have been hired by the University.
“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,” said Frederick.