Washington State University National Merit Scholarship -- Lies, All LIES!!

We just got home from trying to drop off our middle child at Washington State University to start college. Rob is a National Merit Scholarship finalist, and had been repeatedly told by people in the WSU Scholarship and Financial Aid Offices that the National Merit Scholarship at Washington State University, in conjunction with the Western Undergraduate Exchange, covers full out-of-state tuition. They lied through their teeth, repeatedly and systematically.

We got up there, moved Rob into the dorm, bought books, then decided to drop by the Financial Aid office to make sure that they had updated his award, which they had repeatedly assured us, as late as Monday, would have the whole National Merit Scholarship that would cover all his out-of-state tuition. Rob had chosen WSU because he liked the campus and the idea of going to a Pac 10 university, despite the fact that several other universities were offering not only full tuition, but additional stipends or free room and board. When we got there Friday afternoon, however, they finally 'fessed up that they'd been lying the whole time; the "Cougar Academic Award" they included as part of the National Merit Scholarship was, in fact, the WUE award, so he'd still have to pay over $7,000 per semester in tuition. So he withdrew from the school, and now we have to try to find him a new college with school starting Monday for most institutions. Worst of all, since he already "used" his National Merit Scholarship with Washington State University, he probably won't be able to use it anywhere else now; all his hard work during high school is down the drain. (Could we have done better due diligence? Sure. In hindsight, we should have assumed they were lying to us and demanded to see the offer in writing.)

To the Washington State University administrators and staff who lied repeatedly to this fine young man, whose dreams are now in tatters, I say: I hope you're happy with yourself. Oh, and one other thing -- Go Huskies!

Update 1044 24 Aug: Robert was admitted to Boise State University this morning. While he won't be able to call himself a "National Merit Scholar", they gave him pretty much the same scholarship they give to other National Merit Finalists who attend. We're very thankful to BSU.

Update 1350 24 Aug: We got a phone call from President Floyd of WSU in response to an E-mail I sent him. He profusely apologized on behalf of his institution; I was completely convinced of his sincerity and obvious desire to make sure the problem doesn't happen again to anyone else. A very impressive man.

Update 1937 28 Aug: A Spokane TV station got ahold of the story from a website that posts items of interest about WSU, so they called their affiliated station here in Boise, who followed up with a story about the "snafu". Here's a link to the KTVB text story; the video is here. They sent the feed to Spokane, and KREM has their story here; their video, with more of a WSU focus, is here.