Howard University is one of the most prestigious historically Black institutions of higher education in the country, but the operations of the school in the nation’s capital have long been troubled in areas such as budget, financial aid, student housing, security, building maintenance and transparency.
Now, Howard is facing a huge new problem: The U.S. Education Department has placed the school on a list that it really doesn’t want to be on, reports the Washington Post.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s staff informed the school in an Aug. 13 letter that it had been moved to the status of HCM2, or “heightened cash monitoring,” regarding federal financial aid funds. That means the school will no longer get millions of dollars in financial aid in advance to award to students but, instead, will have to give it to students and then seek reimbursement from the federal government.
The new status will affect the monetary flow to the cash-strapped school, which already depends on a hefty annual allocation from Congress to operate. President Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick told the Post in an interview that the new status will require the school to provide laborious documentation of each financial aid award with no errors in any part of the application. Howard officials said the amount of affected funds for the coming semester is $31,352,790.
The Education Department’s letter cites a long list of problems that prompted it to take action and notes that Howard had “failed to provide all documentation requested” during past compliance audits and a recent program review.