US university mistakenly tells 58 students they'd won full-ride scholarships

Central Michigan University plans to pay four years of full tuition for the 58 students. PHOTO: CENTRAL MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY/FACEBOOK

NEW YORK (NYT) - A full ride, including tuition, room and board, plus a US$5,000 (S$6,700) award to study abroad and admission to the university's honours programme.

That's what 58 high school seniors were told they would receive from Central Michigan University when they were notified over the weekend that they had been awarded the school's prestigious Centralis Scholar Award.

But on Sunday (Jan 23) they received horrible news: They had been sent that message by mistake. In fact, they had actually not been awarded the scholarship to the university of about 20,000 students in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

Three days later, however, the university said in a statement it plans to pay four years of full tuition for the students who had been mistakenly told that they had been awarded full rides. They will not, however, receive other perks of the scholarship, a university spokesperson said.

The university said that it would be reaching out to the students with the amended offer.

"We deeply regret the disappointment and frustration caused by the test message error in the student portal," the university said in the statement.

Earlier on Wednesday, the university said that the messages about the Centralis Scholar Award were sent out inadvertently by school staff members when new messaging technology was being tested.

On Sunday, the university's executive director of admissions contacted the families of students who had received the messages by mistake to apologise for the miscommunication, the university said.

In an updated statement on Wednesday evening, Central Michigan University said that "to make it right" the 58 students who had received the congratulatory message by mistake would now receive offers "to increase their award amount to the equivalent of a full-tuition scholarship". It is unclear what specific amounts the students would receive, but undergraduate tuition is US$12,750 per year, according to the university.

It is also unclear whether the students are eligible for the Centralis Scholar Award.

To receive the award, high school seniors must have a grade-point average of at least 3.7, according to the university.

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