HBCUs failing in financial aid accountability

Historically black colleges and universitieshave been the cornerstone in black education since the founding of the first HBCU, Cheney University, in Pennsylvania in 1837.

Because of the prevalence of black colleges, black youth get the opportunity to attend institutions of higher learning with those who look like them. However, HBCUs have gone through financial problems due to in-house theft and other corruption scandals for years. These low accountability standards tarnish the integrity of these historic institutions.

Those corrupt practices lead to grave repercussions for the HBCUs that have encountered these problems from the government and accrediting bodies but these schools should still be held accountable.

There have been several cases of theft recently regarding FAMU’s financial aid. The Famuan reported FAMU students stealing fellow students’ financial aid by rerouting their money into another account. “FAMU police report that the fraud occurred when the suspects gained unauthorized access to another FAMU student’s information contained in their iRattler account and used this information for personal gain by diverting funds to another bank outside the state,” the article read.

Even after the arrest of the suspects, fingers should not be just pointing at the thieves, but at university administrators as well. If the systems were safer, there would be no problems with students hacking into iRattler, the university online data system where FAMU students store and conduct their campus affairs.

 “This is not what I expected college to be like, late money being stolen. It’s things like this that make me think about transferring to Florida State,” said Jamire Riles, a 19 year-old general education student from Miami.

Morris Brownwent through similar financial problems during the 1990s and the early 2000s. In the May 22, 2006 issue of Jet Magazine, former Morris Brown president Dr. Dolores Cross”pleaded guilty to embezzling millions of dollars in federal funds that were intended to cover student tuition.”

With the aid of Parvesh Singh, the former financial aid director, Cross robbed Morris Brown of just over $3 million. Cross’ tenure lasted nearly three years, but her monetary hoarding forced the school into a loss of accreditation and turned the campus into a ghost town.

Alabama A&M University in Normal, Ala., is another black college with accountability issues. The school has been missing over $1 million since 2008, according to an editorial written by John Beck of the Huntsville Times.

“The missing money was reported in 2008 by state auditors, who went so far as to name a half dozen people who had access to the money. There’s been no indication so far that the attorney general or district attorney offices or even the university itself has pursued the matter further,” read the editorial. Huntsville’s CBS Affiliate WHNT 19, reported that the students petitioned for their money.

An absence of liability for Morris Brown’s and Alabama A&M’s money is just another example of why students question the leaders and integrity of our HBCUs. There has to be more than one or two ways to keep track of all the money that is being stolen from the schools. If there isn’t, then our schools are to blame just as much as the thieves themselves.