Student at center of Howard University financial aid scandal files lawsuit

The man who has been the subject of criticism on social media for allegedly stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in the Howard University financial aid scandal is now suing the school for $10 million, according to reports.

Tyrone Hankerson Jr., who was a law student at Howard, says the school accused him of stealing the money in the scandal. Howard University president Wayne A.I. Frederick is named as a defendant in the suit that was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Being the face of someone who benefited from the scandal, Hankerson pocketed a reported $429,000. Just a couple of months shy of graduating, Hankerson spent the money on trips, fur coats and even his own media team. He showcased his lavish lifestyle on social media

Hankerson was one of six employees fired from Howard’s financial aid department for misappropriation of funds totaling more than $1 million. The revelation was made on social journalism website Medium.com, where Hankerson was first named.

The former employee alleges in the lawsuit that the ordeal has ruined his life and that he was used by Howard as a “scapegoat.” Hankerson reportedly said he had to seek therapy and has endured threats of physical harm from students.

“It is a very, very sad day for our university when one of its brightest sons has to do this,” said a spokesman for Hankerson. “It breaks my heart to see Howard handle Mr. Hankerson in this manner. This could be anybody’s son or daughter.”

Howard has not responded to the lawsuit, citing that it doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

Meanwhile, students at Howard University ended their nine-day sit-in at the administration building last Friday. The students originally called for Frederick’s resignation but after meeting with school administrators called off their demand.

“As all of us are aware, Howard University has a long history of healthy debate and discourse on our campus and it’s a tradition we fully support. We want to continue to encourage dialogue and we are committed to providing a safe space for all voices to feel comfortable to speak freely,” trustees chairwoman Stacey J. Mobley said in a statement.

This week, Howard University released a 14-page preliminary report about how money was mishandled by former financial aid employees.

“Financial Aid Office managers had been granted authority to implement financial aids awards without adequate external controls and consequently were able to make inappropriate aid awards without proper documentation and oversight,” the report said.

University officials initially said that no federal money was misappropriated during the scandal; however, the newly released reports states that an ongoing investigation includes a review of the university’s administration of Federal Student Aid.