West Virginia’s Email Problem

Sometimes technology can be great for higher education, and sometimes it can be very, very bad. This was one of the latter incidents.

According to an article by Stacy Moniot in The State Journal:

West Virginia University’s Financial Aid office needed to tell 688 students that they are not qualified for financial aid in the coming school year. Instead, this message went out to almost 15,000 student email accounts Tuesday.

“A review of your academic transcript indicates that you have reached the limit on attempted credit hours and are no longer eligible for financial aid,” the e-mail states. “Any financial aid previously offered to you for 2011-12 academic year has been cancelled. Programs impacted by this policy include but are not limited to Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Federal Work-Study, Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Direct Student Loans, Federal Direct PLUS Loans, and some state aid programs.”

While this message is administrative gobbledygook, what was actually going on here is that those 688 students hadn’t made enough progress, or earned enough credits, to still be eligible for the scholarships they were receiving.

The financial aid office, which had “no idea” why the school sent out the scary email to more than 14,000 students who weren’t actually impacted by the rule about credit accumulation, sent out a subsequent email explaining that “In most cases, you can be assured you are not impacted by the federal regulation that is referenced in the e-mail.”

How terribly reassuring.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer