This time, students at Oakland University were mistakenly offered $48,000 over 4 years.
The cost of college, like the cost of everything else, is going up. In fact, in the past 10 years, the price of attending a university has risen by more than 25%. It’s so expensive that a lot of promising students don’t get to go and those who do often end up saddled with student loan debt. So the fact that Oakland University in Michigan sent emails to 5,500 students mistakenly awarding them hefty scholarships seems like a very cruel joke.
Students received a congratulatory email on January 4th, according to the New York Times. It read, “You worked hard and it paid off!” it read, and informed students that they would receive a $48,000 academic scholarship over the course of four years. That’s a $12,000 a year scholarship at a school where the in-state tuition is $13,934 per year, according to Oakland University's website. That’s basically a full ride.
So, when those individuals got those emails, they were understandably overjoyed. They called their parents. They told their friends. Someone probably texted all their friends to plan a celebratory beer run. Several people probably cried. Two hours later, those same students were totally deflated when they got another email from the university. “CORRECTION,” read the subject line of the email that reportedly said, “Because you are not a recipient of the Platinum Presidential Scholar Award, this message was unfortunately sent to you in error.”
"When they sent that email, I was like 'Wow, this is my escape, this is everything I've ever wanted,'" Charmaine, an 18-year-old in Farmington and an incoming freshman at Oakland University, told ABC. Brown had been applying for scholarships nonstop, so the email was a dream come true. And then it was a nightmare. “That’s a big mistake. That’s a very big mistake,” Brown told ABC. She and her mother are currently petitioning the university to honor the scholarships.
It’s hard to accept the ineptitude of whatever inane bureaucratic snafu wrought this devastation. But as if it wasn’t enough to raise and then demolish the hopes of 5,500 young people in one fell swoop, this isn’t even the first time this has happened in Michigan. It’s not even the first time this month.
Earlier in January, Central Michigan University made a similar mistake. Fifty-eight high school seniors were sent emails that told them they would receive a full ride, including tuition, room and board, plus a $5,000 award to study abroad and admission to the school’s honors program, according to the Times. That is literally everything an incoming freshman could ask for.
Then the University contacted them again to tell them it was a mistake and that the first message had been a “test email.” Yikes.
For their part, administrators at Central Michigan University did try to make it right. A few days after the incident, the school said that it would pay the full tuition of the 58 students who got the email. I’m really hoping that Oakland takes a cue from Central and offers these students more than an apology for what is much much more than a minor mistake.