News & Politics

Christian College Expels Student Over Lesbian Relationship--And Then Demands $6,000 in Tuition

Nebraska-based Grace University is billing Danielle Powell for tuition after Powell was expelled for being in a same-sex relationship.

Photo Credit: rSnapshotPhotos/

At Grace University, a conservative Christian college in Nebraska, students are not allowed to even give prolonged hugs. So when 24-year-old Danielle Powell fell in love with a woman, it meant trouble for her.

Powell now says she was expelled because of the same-sex relationship. But that’s not all: she was also sent a $6,000 bill the school said she owed in federal loans and grants because she didn’t finish the semester, the Associated Press reports, and copies of her transcript weren’t given when initially requested. She is being asked to pay even after she went through counseling and mentoring over to the lesbian relationship she was in. The school says the payment is required by federal law, but the U.S. Department of Education contradicted that claim.

The school had initially re-admitted Powell after she was suspended because Powell went through the required counseling. But the school quickly went back on that, and she was kicked out permanently.

Powell is now battling Grace over the bill. She says her school costs were covered by a scholarship.

Powell’s wife has started a petition in protest of the tuition bill.

“I shouldn’t have this debt hanging over me from a school that clearly didn’t want me,” Powell told the AP.

A staffer at the gay rights organization Lamba Legal told the AP that Powell’s case was unique because the school wanted money back. Usually, Christian universities are just glad to be rid of students like Powell.

The U.S. Department of Education told the news outlet that the money issue is between Powell and her school, but not because of federal law. Some Christian schools like Grace are not required to adhere to all federal guidelines if it conflicts with their faith.

“Grace and other private colleges that accept federal student aid — sometimes called Title IV funding — must abide by the Civil Rights Act that forbids discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, sex, age or physical handicap. But sexual orientation is not included in that list,” the Associated Press notes.


Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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