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University made a huge mistake with my scholarship

koala44koala44 3 replies2 threads New Member
I applied to a private University awhile back and finally received my letter of acceptance in January of 2020. Upon receiving it I was accepted with honors as well as given a “Presidential Scholarship” for 19,000 per semester. Needless to say it was a huge surprise and basically was going to pay for just about all costs of going to that college which was my #1 pick for transferring. I finally get a call back from the transfer counselor after calling to ask regarding the scholarship and additional steps I needed to take and she tells me that there was a mistake with whoever sent out the letters. Apparently it was suppose to say that the 19,000 was per YEAR not per SEMESTER. So now I’m left with false hope and I have no idea what to do because without the money I was promised initially by them I can’t afford it. Please help!
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Replies to: University made a huge mistake with my scholarship

  • Erin's DadErin's Dad 33343 replies4074 threads Super Moderator
    No one can offer explicit advice because you don't mention the school's name. Your best bet is to talk to the financial aid office on what options you have. I'm surprised you got $19K/year as a transfer. Normally transfers don't get anything. If you can't afford the new school can you finish your degree where you are?
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  • me29034me29034 1796 replies91 threads Senior Member
    Did you apply to any more affordable choices? You can’t make the school give you the money if they say it was a typo. I know you’re disappointed but I don’t think there is anything you can do.
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  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 2811 replies64 threads Senior Member
    Which university? Did the original letter specify "per semester"? It is common for scholarships to be presented in "per year" amounts, although if you were sent a letter that specifically states otherwise, I would be surprised and disappointed if the university didn't honor it. Have you talked with the financial aid office or just a transfer counselor? If your letter indeed states "per semester" I would talk to the FA office specifically about the money and leave your transfer counselor to handle your classes, credits, and other things.

    OTOH, can you stay at your current college if it ends up that you can't afford the transfer school? Note that this is, on the whole, a very generous transfer offer (so be very polite to the FA office!). Most transferees are in the way back of the line when it comes to university scholarships.

    I hope it works out for you.
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  • koala44koala44 3 replies2 threads New Member
    The only reason I didn’t is since this is still very new and I want to try and get as much help as I can without essentially getting myself in trouble by mentioning the school. I’m currently at a community college so I have gone as far as I can there. The woman who called me essentially just apologized and said to apply for financial aid as if it wasn’t a couple thousands dollar mistake they made. I know they realize they made a huge mistake and are hoping it just goes away quietly. I currently have an appointment with the president of the university as well as waiting on a call from the director of financial aid. The hope would be for them to honor it but I feel like that’s a small chance despite the pretty large screw up they made and I believe I’m not the only one. I still have all my documents and the letter as well stating it.
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  • koala44koala44 3 replies2 threads New Member
    I am still extremely elated to have gotten any kind of aid or money when all I really was hoping for was an acceptance. It’s just quite a difference or rather a disappointment going from expecting to only have to pay a minimal amount of of pocket to now at least 20-30 thousand. I applied to another college that was my second choice but have not heard anything back yet.
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  • kelsmomkelsmom 15793 replies99 threads Senior Member
    If you are applying for the fall, you have plenty of time to find another school if this one doesn’t work out financially. It would have been different if you had arrived on campus thinking you were getting double the money.

    Schools make mistakes, and they are not bound by what they originally told you. I know that sounds harsh, but again, you have time to find another school if this one is not affordable.
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  • chaphillmomchaphillmom 103 replies11 threads Junior Member
    I agree with the other posters- I doubt it is a legally binding offer. You will sometimes see stories about airlines or companies honoring mistake fares so as not to lose their customers, but I wouldn't expect a non-profit institution to have to do the same. If you had accepted the offer and turned down other universities based on this scholarship, that may create a more compelling argument.
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  • PublisherPublisher 9574 replies119 threads Senior Member
    Did you apply for financial aid ?

    If not, can you still do so as this could be a satisfactory resolution of this matter for all parties.
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  • sybbie719sybbie719 20829 replies2027 threads Super Moderator
    edited February 12
    If I had a dollar just this week, for every student who brought a letter to my office saying, "Miss, this school is giving me a scholarship for $50,000" . They are jumping up and down with glee thinking that it is 50k/year and I have to be the person to burst their bubble to tell them it is a $50k that will pay out to 12.5k/year for 4 years.

    if you have the letter, please post exactly what the letter startes regarding this award.

    I agree with others that if this is not an affordable option that you have some financial safeties in the mix
    edited February 12
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  • AboutTheSameAboutTheSame 3162 replies47 threads Senior Member
    edited February 12
    If you had given up attending another 4-year school in order to transfer after receiving this offer, you might have had a decent claim of what is called detrimental reliance, but moving from a community college to a 4-year school basically guts any case you might have. You are no worse off than if they had offered you nothing. Or ... are you? Did you abandon any other options? If you did, I suggest you talk to a lawyer rather than accepting advice from folks here on CC who have little or no knowledge of your legal options. I'm not trying to put down anyone who has posted here, but I do not think that any of you should dissuade OP from examining and pursuing what legal options s/he might have. [I agree with @sybbie719 that we need to know exactly what the letter said, but I thought the first paragraph of his post was not needed.]
    edited February 12
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  • blossomblossom 10162 replies9 threads Senior Member
    aboutthesame- you go to the ATM and withdraw 100 bucks. Your receipt tells you that your balance is 20 million dollars.

    Three days later, the bank corrects the typo-- your balance is two thousand dollars.

    You don't honestly think you have a legitimate legal claim to the 20 million, right? You're advising a college student to consult a lawyer over this?

    OP- post the letter you received just in case there are other issues that need clarifying. I know I've helped kids with financial aid letters who think that they can take out a student loan to cover their contribution- when the loan is ALREADY baked into the award. We are all happy to help explain if there are things in the letter which are unclear.

    What was your original plan? You wrote:
    it was a huge surprise and basically was going to pay for just about all costs of going to that college which was my #1 pick for transferring

    If it was a huge surprise, what financial arrangements were you planning before you got the letter?
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  • PublisherPublisher 9574 replies119 threads Senior Member
    edited February 12
    I do think that you should talk to the school financial aid office.
    edited February 12
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  • blossomblossom 10162 replies9 threads Senior Member
    And do not pay a lawyer $250 to hear "you have no legal recourse".
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  • sybbie719sybbie719 20829 replies2027 threads Super Moderator
    a quick google search
    I saw a number of schools with presidential scholarships of $19,000/year but none at $19,000 semester.

    There are a few competitive scholarships for 38k/year
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  • koala44koala44 3 replies2 threads New Member
    The letter stated this regarding the scholarship and my acceptance:

    Congratulations! Based on the recommendation of the executive director for the Office of Admission, I am pleased to announce your admission with Honors to the University of (blank) for Fall 2020.

    I have more great news for you! Based on your academic and personal accomplishments, we have chosen to make a substantial investment in your future because we believe you will succeed as a student and as a thriving member of our (blank) community. To that end, the faculty has awarded you the Presidential Scholarship. This prestigious award is for $19,000 per semester.

    To answer any other final questions, yes I had already accepted the offer before they saw their mistake and changed it so I accepted the original scholarship I thought I was getting and then found out after the fact that there was a typo in the letter. Yes I did turn down other schools because I figured why would I not want to go to the college I wanted to first and barely have to pay out of pocket.
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  • PublisherPublisher 9574 replies119 threads Senior Member
    edited February 13
    It might be worthwhile to consult with an attorney if you turned down other offers on the reasonable belief that you had received a $19,000 per semester scholarship to this school. An attorney may be willing to write a letter on your behalf to the university for as little as $500 or so in an attempt to get the university to match the offere stated in the original letter.

    Damages appear to be $19,000 X 4 = $76,000.

    Of course, you will need actual damages & you have a duty to mitigate damages.

    If you do consult an attorney, it might be wise to hire an attorney who practices near this university.

    Again, I recommend following the school's suggestion & filing a financial aid application in addition to taking any other course of action.
    edited February 13
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  • itsgettingreal21itsgettingreal21 226 replies5 threads Junior Member
    edited February 13
    The OP has no claim. He relied on a mistake thats obvious. He knew the school offered no such presidential scholarship (full ride transfer scholarship) and should have confirmed before committing. Sure some unscrupulous lawyer may take his money, but this is a waste of time. The university has its own lawyers and won’t roll over. Lawyers also cost money and his “case” isn’t worth much to justify contingency. OP needs financial aid and shouldn’t be wasting money on lawyers

    OP, if you had other offers, which it doesn’t sound like it, reach out to them and see if they’ll reinstate your acceptance and financial aid while working with this school to see if they’ll sweeten the $18k offer on account of the mistake. But the likelihood they’ll give you an additional $36k over 2 years is very slim. Good luck.
    edited February 13
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29933 replies59 threads Senior Member
    Before the financial aid option is gone, get that application in. Then make a dozen copies of your offer letter and send a copy, labeled “ Personal and Confidential” to the Director of Admissions, President of the University , Dean of Students and whoever else there who might have some say in the situation. Include an impassioned letter stating you are ready to go to this school and had depended upon the scholarship as states and request the college honor the offer.

    Unfortunately, schools make mistakes. Everything and everyone make mistakes. Schools have extended offers of admissions that were mistakes and they reneg on them.

    I don’t think the ATM/bank analogy holds in cases like this because you had good reason to believe the scholarship letter was accurate. We are responsible for knowing what is in our bank accounts to the penny and any unknown funds, we should question. Not so with financial aid and scholarship offers. We are dependent upon the info the schools give us.

    I’ve never seen an award letter listed per semester either, but that they can exist, I do not doubt. Please look in the school website and read up on that Presidential scholarship. Is it clearly written per year , spelled out in amounts so that the “semester” in your award letter is a clear mistake to anyone who has looked into that school’s awards?
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  • thumper1thumper1 76517 replies3384 threads Senior Member
    Damages appear to be $19,000 X 4 = $76,000.

    @Publisher why times four? This is a transfer student who has completed at least one year of college.

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  • PublisherPublisher 9574 replies119 threads Senior Member
    Damages could be demonstrated/alleged as four or two semesters.

    For example: If OP cannot attend due to the "error", then damages, arguably, are for four semesters less any mitigation.

    If OP attends and receives just two $19,000 awards, then damages are, arguably, $19,000 X 2.
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