BY MARGERY A. BECK, ASSOCIATED PRESS
OMAHA, Neb. -- Danielle Powell was going through a hard time in the spring of 2011, just months away from graduating from a conservative Christian college in Nebraska. She had fallen in love with another woman, a strictly forbidden relationship at a school where even prolonged hugs were banned.
Powell said she was working at a civil rights foundation in Mississippi to finish her psychology degree when she was called back to Grace University in Omaha and confronted about the relationship. She was eventually expelled - then sent a bill for $6,000 to reimburse what the school said were federal loans and grants that needed to be repaid because she didn't finish the semester.
Powell is now fighting the Omaha school, arguing that her tuition was covered by scholarships and that federal loans wouldn't need to be repaid in that amount. She also notes she was kicked out even after undergoing months of counseling, spiritual training and mentoring insisted upon by the school following her initial suspension.
"I shouldn't have this debt hanging over me from a school that clearly didn't want me," the 24-year-old said.