BREAKING: 58 students will receive full-tuition scholarships after accidental message

Views of CMU’s Warriner Hall around sunset, Monday, Nov. 8.

Call it a reversal of fortune: CMU will now offer 58 prospective students an award equivalent to a full-tuition scholarship after sending them a Centralis scholarship award by mistake.  

"We deeply regret the disappointment and frustration caused by the test message error in the student portal," according to a university press release send late Jan. 26. 

On Jan. 21, 58 students received a congratulatory message saying they had won the Centralis Scholarship. That award includes a full-ride financial package of tuition and room and board. 

Those emails were never meant to be sent by the admissions office. 

Due to an error, while testing the messaging technology, students who were logged in to their student portal to check the status of their admissions application were sent the message by mistake.

One of those students was Newaygo High Schooler Parker Christensen  When he got an email saying he won the scholarship the evening of Jan. 21, Christensen said he was overwhelmed with joy.

Christensen, 17, told everyone that he would be getting a CMU degree for free. His mother, Darlene, made a Facebook post announcing how proud she was of her son and that the family was excited to celebrate. 

"He was absolutely over the moon when he got the message," Darlene said. "He was having an out-of-body moment. We all were just shaking with excitement."

That excitement didn't last long. Two days later, he received a phone call from admissions letting him know about the email mistake. 

The news was devastating.

"Colleges are supposed to make your dreams come true not destroy them or make you second guess if they are achievable," Christensen said.

At first, the university bumped up his Maroon and Gold scholarship by about $3,000 per year, giving him a total of $10,000 per year in scholarship money. 

Now he will receive a full-tuition scholarship which is equivalent to $12,750. The university statement did not say whether or not room and board would be included in the scholarship. Christensen was notified of the university's decision after Central Michigan Life reached out to him for comment for this story.

"This is the last thing I expected to happen," Christensen said.

Faculty Association President Amanda Garrison said there now comes concerns with how much 58 full-tuition scholarships will cost the university.

"I think this was the right thing for CMU to do - but all I have now are questions," Garrison said. "Where will this money come from while we cut college and department budgets? Where's this money coming from when there are fewer and fewer services available on campus? Where's the money coming from when enrollment is tanking?"