Another computer glitch? Magna cum mixup: Government gives scholarships to the wrong winners (duh!) : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

March 8, 2000 Web posted at: 1:06 PM EST (1806 GMT)

(AP) -- Thirty-nine college students were mistakenly told they won government fellowships, but the U.S. Education Department has decided to give them the money anyway, an official said Wednesday.

The mistake in the Jacob K. Javits Fellowships could cost the government up to $975,000, depending on how many accept the offer. The fellowships pay for graduate study in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

"We were working at first to find out what happened and why an error occurred," said Erica Lepping, a department spokeswoman in Washington. "After reviewing that, we came to the conclusion this was the right thing to do."

In addition, students and educators said an amendment to the Higher Education Act of 1992 bars the department from retracting Javits fellowships after they are announced.

Individual awards range from $25,000 to $100,000. Congress appropriated $10 million for the program for each of the 2000-01 and 2001-02 academic years, Lepping said.

The 39 mistaken winners actually were alternates. The Chronicle of Higher Education, which first reported the story, said 138 other students were the real winners. The winners and alternates were chosen from among some 13,000 applicants, Lepping said.

A private contractor, DTI Associates in Arlington, Virginia, was hired to mail award notices to the winners.

Lepping said the mistaken notifications sent to the alternates were discovered when one alternate called the Education Department with a question.

She didn't immediately know if the real winners were notified.

The Education Department is searching for a way to fund the unexpected outlay, Lepping said. It was also looking into possible legal action against the contractor, she said.

There was no comment from DTI Associates. Company officials did not immediately return a call Wednesday.

-- K. Nolan (, March 08, 2000

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