Oakland University apologizes after accidentally awarding scholarships to thousands of students

Thousands of students were accidentally awarded scholarships by Oakland University
Photo credit zimmytws/Getty

ROCHESTER, Mich (WWJ) - School officials at Oakland University have apologized after thousands of scholarships were mistakenly awarded to prospective students in the beginning of January.

University spokesman Brian Bierley told The Detroit News that nearly 5,500 applicants were notified through email on Jan. 4 that "they were entitled to receive Oakland University’s Platinum Presidential Scholar Award, our highest award."

The almost full-tuition scholarship is worth $12,000 a year -- roughly the cost of the school's full tuition. Students must hold a 3.9 GPA and score at least 1450 on the SAT or a 33 or higher on the ACT to qualify.

According to the Detroit News, university officials uncovered the blunder within hours and sent out another batch of emails apologizing to the students on Jan. 5.

"Unfortunately, the students who received the message do not meet the eligibility requirements for this award, but have qualified for varying levels of OU scholarship awards," Bierley said to The Detroit News.

Bierley blamed the accident on "human error."

Estimates show the university would've lost out on $264 million over a four year period.

Oakland University's scholarship error comes just days after Central Michigan University encountered a similar mistake last weekend. CMU officials not only apologized to students, but also offered the equivalent of a full-tuition scholarship,

Oakland University, however, has not changed it's position and has instead encouraged affected applicants to apply for other scholarships by updating grades and test scores.

Families affected by OU's slip-up initially shrugged it off, but are now questioning the school's response after seeing how CMU handled their mistake.

"College is so expensive, so this is a brutal mistake," Amy Pero told The Detroit News. Her 18-year-old daughter is one of the thousands of applicants who mistakenly received emails from OU. "They should consider honoring it in some form. It's not like we want to bankrupt the university, and accidents do happen, but this is a really unfortunate one."

Jess VanDerMaas said the false notification felt like a "cruel joke" to her 17-year-old daughter after handling the stress of high school and the COVID-19 pandemic

"We're not asking for money, inherently. My daughter is going to be successful regardless of what school she goes to," VanDerMaas said to The Detroit News. "But these kids are already going against this major uphill challenge."

"These administrators are making all this money, millions of dollars, and they're kicking these kids when they haven't even gotten to step out on the street."

Featured Image Photo Credit: zimmytws/Getty