College student $18,000 further in debt due to ‘typo’ in scholarship letter

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NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Each time her tuition bill for Virginia Wesleyan arrived, Cassandra Craig says the number didn’t seem right.  

“Shouldn’t I be getting more? It feels like I’m not getting enough,” said Craig. 

As an incoming freshman, she was awarded a partial scholarship to the university in Norfolk worth $22,000 per year. The now junior says the amounts she’s actually been receiving over the past three years is $16,000.  

It took Craig a while to realize the discrepancy. Once she did, she couldn’t find the award letter to prove the amount she had been promised.  

A few weeks ago, she finally found it. 

The letter reads: “Your scholarship award will be $22,000 each year and is renewable through four consecutive years for a total of $88,000 assuming satisfactory academic progress towards your degree.”

The letter continues: “To maintain your scholarship award you must maintain 12 credit hours per semester and your status as a commuter student must remain the same.”

The letter is signed and on official letterhead. Craig brought the letter to the finance office to sort out the difference. 

“She takes the letter and she comes back to me a few minutes later and she says ‘This letter is for if you were to be a resident student because if you were to live on campus you get some extra money for that, the living expenses. I said ‘Well right here in this paragraph as long as I’m a commuter student I get this money.’ She said ‘Oh that’s a typo,” Craig recalled. 

“I was kind of taken aback a little bit. And like as soon as I left the building I was hit with a realization that’s not OK,” she said.

She says the school’s communication on the matter has been extremely slow. 

10 On Your Side reached out to Virginia Wesleyan officials to ask about Craig’s case. They sent the following email as a response.

“In this particular case, the student applied as a resident student and accepted her package as such. After application and acceptance, the student changed her status to commuter.  
Residential and commuter students are packaged differently because the cost of attendance is different. When a student’s residential status changes, so does their financial aid package. That is stated in all policies.

For the past three years, the student has formally accepted her written financial aid package as presented. On January 28 the student’s father called to discuss his student’s aid, and on January 29 a written request for review was received. Unfortunately, that same day, January 29, our senior vice president passed away. As a result, the review process was delayed. The review of this case is still pending.”

Craig says she reached out to 10 On Your Side because she’s not the only student on campus experiencing issues with the finance department. 

“I started realizing that they’re a lot of students on campus who have similar issues to this and so I felt like I should speak up and maybe help other students with their issues as well.”


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