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School offers full tuition to 58 students after a scholarship award message error

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. — Dozens of prospective Central Michigan University students who were mistakenly told they had won full-ride scholarships that include room and board have received an apology from the school — and offers of the equivalent of full-tuition scholarships "to make it right."

School officials said 58 youths received messages last weekend while accessing the university portal telling them they had won a Centralis Scholars Award, which includes full tuition, room and board, money toward books and supplies, and a $5,000 "study away award."

But the university said Wednesday that those contacted hadn't won the prestigious award and the message had gone out "inadvertently" as school staffers were testing new messaging technology.

Parker Christensen, a 17-year-old senior at Newaygo High School, said he was so excited to have won the scholarship he told his friends and family, and his mother posted about it on social media.

But his joy evaporated when he learned the message was a mistake.

"Colleges are supposed to make your dreams come true not destroy them or make you second guess if they are achievable," Christensen told Central Michigan Life, CMU's student newspaper.

University officials apologized for the error Wednesday night, and offered all 58 prospective students the equivalent of a full-tuition scholarship.

"We deeply regret the disappointment and frustration caused by the test message error in the student portal," CMU spokesman Aaron Mills said in a statement. "To make it right, we will be reaching out to each of the 58 students who saw the congratulatory message regarding the Centralis Scholarship and offering ... the equivalent of a full-tuition scholarship."

It is not clear how much more money that means for the affected prospective students, but tuition for U.S. residents at CMU is estimated to be about $12,750 a year.

The Centralis Scholars Award is considered the premier merit scholarship CMU offers, according to the school's website. The scholarships are awarded to high school seniors and only students who have a minimum 3.7 GPA and have already been admitted to the university are eligible.

In addition to full tuition, room and board and the award's other benefits, students who get the scholarship can also take part in special honors classes.

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