The president of Howard University on Wednesday confirmed the firings of six financial aid employees last year who were caught misappropriating university-based grants and keeping the money for themselves.
In a statement, Howard University President Wayne Frederick said an internal investigation found that several university employees received grants on top of the discounts they were already receiving on their tuition, NBC News Washington reported. The discounts exceeded the cost of attendance, allowing some individuals to pocket handsome refunds.
“The financial integrity of Howard University’s operations is paramount and strong measures have been taken following the RSM investigation to ensure this never happens again,” Frederick wrote. “As part of these reform efforts, significant new policies and procedures have been implemented to strengthen Howard’s internal controls with respect to the awarding of financial aid.”
The president noted that the grants, which were intended to help low-income students, came from the university and were not federal or donor-given funds.
“… 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,” he added.
The damning revelation comes amid fallout from an anonymous blog post accusing Howard financial aid employees of stealing nearly $1 million in financial aid funds. The post, shared on online blog Medium, has since been deleted.
News of the HBCU scandal sent social media into a tizzy early Wednesday, with many Howard students expressing disappointment and anger at the situation. Some students even shared stories of how they were forced to drop-out of Howard, where tuition averages $23,419 per year, after their financial aid somehow fell through.
“I’m actually on the verge of transferring schools because I can’t afford to stay here because a grant was taken away from me,” one student told NBC News Washington.
Many others took to Twitter to share their outrage.
Crazy how many students have been forced to leave the university bc they lost their scholarships out of nowhere or found random balances on their account just for Howard administration to give themselves illegal payouts
— Angelic 👼🏾 (@kaaaatttt__) March 28, 2018
On top of everything else. My heart is aching for those students in high school that have to wake up and defend why they want to go to @HowardU. My heart aches for that alum and parent that has to respond to condescending remarks at work tomorrow regarding this scandal.
— Amos Jackson III (@amosjacksonIII) March 28, 2018
Attention then turned to a man named Tyrone Hankerson Jr., a student-employee at the financial aid office who allegedly stole more than $430,000 from the department. Social media was soon flooded with photos from of Hankerson’s Instagram page, showing him dressed in expensive designer clothes, traveling overseas and even toting a Gucci messenger bag.
Hankerson’s flashy lifestyle, which many suspect was afforded to him through stolen funds, only added fuel to the fire.
This man stole $429,000 in Financial Aid at Howard y’all
Tyrone Hankerson, a student-employee in the Financial Aid office. Set to graduate! & Got caught
This the iconic photo we found on his Facebook😭😭✊🏾
Mink Coat, Designer Bag, the FINESSE GOD TYRONE ☠️☠️I am DEAD pic.twitter.com/PQrYQaPXzJ
— Lew Sid (@LewSidRaps) March 28, 2018
The Tyrone Hankerson situation upsets me to the core bc there has been MANY times during my dealings w/ Howard I sat up at night & cried HARD bc financial aid played w/ my livelihood. Yet, dude got a smooth $430K w/o being noticed. I want reparations. 🗣
— EsquiHER (@Bruh_SheAPoodle) March 28, 2018
via @_Icklo: Tyrone Hankerson in 2015 to student in need of financial assistance >> “The University has utilized 100% of Financial Aid budget for the academic year.”
“We encourage you to look for outside scholarships.”
The same year he received $133,000 in aid. pic.twitter.com/3BUsclivdC
— #FrederickMustResign (@veritas1867) March 28, 2018
a lot of this Tyrone situation is wild and not worth joking on but please believe me when I say the caption of "another semester down, another bag secured" left me BREATHLESS with laughter pic.twitter.com/SqEIywl9vg
— Hanif Abdurraqib (@NifMuhammad) March 28, 2018
In the wake of the fallout, Hankerson has denied any wrongdoing in the Howard financial aid scandal, saying in a statement he “would never do anything to hurt an institution I love so much.”
“When all is fully disclosed, the truth will prevail and I know I’ll be vindicated,” he wrote.