Oakland University blames 'human error' for scholarships mistakenly awarded to thousands

Posted at 6:17 PM, Jan 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-28 18:17:32-05

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. (WXYZ) — A Farmington High School senior is devastated.

Charmaine Brown says she’s worked around the clock applying for scholarships, so when she received an email from Oakland University’s admissions she was overjoyed.

“When they sent that email, I was like ‘Wow, this is my escape, this is everything I’ve ever wanted,’” Brown said.

The email read: “Hi Charmaine! You worked hard and it paid off!”

The university email goes on to say, “you are the recipient of the Platinum Presidential Scholar Award. This prestigious scholarship is awarded to high achieving students like you in the amount of $48,000 for four years ($12,000 per year)”

Brown’s mother Carla was excited for her child who is currently a 3.7 GPA student in the dual enrollment program at Oakland Community College.

“I said, ‘Wow we don’t have to pay for anything for you to go to school. It’s going to be fully covered,’" Carla Brown said.

But that was not the case. The university sent out another email hours later saying, “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.”

“That’s a big mistake. That’s a very big mistake,” the 18-year-old said.

It’s a mistake that went out to 5,500 potential incoming students, a university spokesperson told 7 Action News.

“Me and my mother, we had both ended up contacting the school saying this is very unacceptable,” Charmaine Brown said.

In a follow-up email, the university says, “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.”

After several calls and emails to the university looking for answers, Carla Brown received a call from someone in the admissions office.

“He says he was so embarrassed that this has even happened and that there is nothing they can do about it,” Brown said.

Oakland University says they have examined their email data extraction procedures to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.

Brown says an apology isn’t enough and wants the university president to make it right.

“I know it’s a lot of students, but you know the best they can do, not the least,” she said.

In the fall of 2021, the university offered 223 Platinum President Scholar awards and 47 of those students chose to enroll in the fall.

For students in Charmaine Brown’s shoes trying to figure out how they will pay for college, she says don’t give up.

“I would say just keep going, keep applying for scholarships,” she said.

She told 7 Action News that if things don’t work out with Oakland University, she’s keeping her options open. She got accepted into Wayne State University with some scholarship money and is waiting to hear back from the University of Michigan.

A similar situation happened earlier this week at Central Michigan University. CMU says it is going “to make it right" and honor the scholarships.