A university's new student messaging system resulted in a costly clerical error after staff members were testing out the technology.
Over the weekend, Central Michigan University mistakenly notified 58 applicants that the school had awarded them full rides and wouldand room and board plus provide an additional stipend. The same high school seniors were also told that they had been admitted to the school's honors program.
"He was absolutely over the moon when he got the message," the mother of one of the students, 17-year-old Parker Christensen, told CMU's student newspaper. "He was having an out-of-body moment. We all were just shaking with excitement."
It was a mistake. On Sunday, the students were informed that they hadn't won scholarships, after all.
But what could've ended up as huge disappointment for the aspiring college students — and a potential public relations nightmare for Central Michigan — has a happy ending. The school on Wednesday said it would still cover the full cost of the students' tuition "to make it right." In some cases, that means increasing the student's financial award so that it is equivalent to a full-ride scholarship.
Although CMU didn't specify the value of the scholarships,tuition at the university is $12,750 per year. Full tuition for 58 students for four years amounts to nearly $3 million.
The university blamed the error on a technical failure and said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch that staff members were testing a new messaging technology over the weekend.
"CMU staff inadvertently posted a message about the prestigious Centralis Scholar Award that was seen by students who were logged into the system at that time," according to the statement. "The message appeared to indicate the student had received the Centralis Scholarship, when in fact they had not, CMU deeply regrets the disappointment and frustration this mistake caused for students and their families," the school said in a statement.
Christensen is now set to receive a full scholarship, the Central Michigan Life reported, though it's unclear if that will include room and board.
"This is the last thing I expected to happen," he told the paper.
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