University mistakenly offers 5,500 students Platinum Presidential Scholar Award

Oakland University mistakenly offered their highest scholarship award to approximately 5,500 students on Jan. 4.

Below is a statement The Post received from Director of Media Relations Brian Bierley detailing what happened.

“Yes, it is true that Oakland University had mistakenly sent out scholarship notification emails in early January. Here is what happened.

On January 4, Oakland University learned that, due to human error, our undergraduate student application system sent some 5,500 admitted students email notifications that they were entitled to receive Oakland University’s Platinum Presidential Scholar Award, our highest award. The award is worth $12,000 per year for four years.

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. While the emails were sent in error, OU notifies students of scholarship awards through official scholarship award letters sent to students via United States mail.

An immediate correction update was sent within two hours to the students who received the scholarship messages in error. Our Undergraduate Admissions team also scheduled phone calls to explain the situation for those who contacted us. Oakland University is very transparent with the criteria for our scholarship opportunities, and while many families were disappointed, there were also many students and families who have been understanding and eager to learn more about the OU award they did earn.

The university followed up by notifying the affected students and apologizing for the error with the following message:

We wanted to follow up with you personally regarding the Undergraduate Admissions Platinum Presidential Scholar email that was mistakenly sent to you yesterday.

Unfortunately, due to a human error, the email was inadvertently sent to you and others who had not received Presidential Scholar awards. Please know we take this unfortunate mistake very seriously and would like to sincerely apologize.

We know the college application process is an extremely stressful time and we are sorry for the added confusion and disappointment this email has caused. While we know that this message will not make up for our mistake, we wanted to share our deep regret that this error occurred, and our deep compassion toward all those affected.

The University notifies students of scholarship awards through official scholarship award letters sent to students via United States mail. The email that you received was only intended for those students who had already been sent notice of their Presidential Scholar award through an official scholarship award letter.

We have examined our email data extraction procedures to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. We feel very badly that you received this incorrect communication, and we hope you will still consider attending Oakland University.

The Undergraduate Admissions team is available to talk to you and help you understand your current university scholarship, as well as other scholarship opportunities at OU. If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us directly at [email protected] or [email protected].

Again, we apologize for this error, and we look forward to welcoming you to the Golden Grizzly family.”

Remarkably, Central Michigan University made a similar error at the beginning of January, notifying 58 students of full-ride scholarship rewards that they weren’t eligible for.

CMU’s admission director is no longer with the university following the error, though it is unclear at this time whether they were removed from their position or resigned. Additionally, CMU offered those 58 students the equivalent of the scholarships they were wrongly offered. 

The Post asked Bierley whether OU planned on taking any additional measures to make good with students who were affected by this error.

“It was a regrettable error to send that email to be sure, but we sent the correction email two hours later and an apology letter the next day explaining to those students in order to respond as quickly as possible to clarify the situation,” Bierley said. “Oakland has told those students who got the email by mistake that we are honoring the various levels of scholarships the students qualified for and are encouraging them to submit updated transcripts and test scores before they start the fall semester so they can be considered for any other scholarship awards they might qualify for this fall.”