We won't give you a scholarship until you're good and traumatized.
January 30, 2008 12:59 PM   Subscribe

Due to some bizarre circumstances, my college is forcing me to dig up some things from my past I'd thought I'd put behind me and would much, much sooner forget. How do I deal?

This is IB's wife, in case anyone wondered. Probably not. Anyway, I'm going back to college after a long hiatus. I went to college the first time at a school that had weird "block" scheduling, so while I didn't finish the equivalent of a semester, I still had some credits.

I ended up having to leave college due to an abusive family situation. Being a minor at the time meant I had very little recourse when they decided to bring me back. Records were made by Child Protective Services at that time, but they didn't take me out of my home.

Last year, the director of admissions at the school I now attend told me I would qualify as a first-year student for scholarship purposes. I paid quite a bit out-of-pocket to come to "scholarship weekend" and ended up winning one of the best scholarships my school has to offer.

Then the director of admissions left, and the new guy has no idea why she'd have told me I was a first year, since "any credits earned while not in high school" disqualify me from that status according to him. I ended up breaking down crying in his office and recounting the story of being pulled out of college to him. He said that what he wanted to see was EXTENSIVE documentation of what occurred -- including CPS records, notarized statements from college officials, et cetera -- and that then, possibly, maybe, he could give me the scholarship.

Even thinking about that time in my life sends me into a quasi-panic attack. It was a terrible time that I hate dwelling on. Add to this the fact that I already hate having to navigate bureaucracy, and you get a great combination. I keep trying to pick up the phone to make these calls but then I freeze and can't get it done.

I was thinking of even letting the whole thing drop, but he just called here badgering me to get him the documentation. I feel like making these calls and sending in for this paperwork is making me relive a past I wanted very badly to put away, and the anxiety it's producing is really not okay.

What the hell should I do?
posted by InnocentBystander to Education (41 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Does your college have an ombudsman? A women's center? Either of those should be able to help you.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:00 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Tcitl: no to the first, and our women's center is a student group led by my housemate. it's not an actual resource center with real genuine Grown Ups (tm) or anything. My college is sort of weird.
posted by InnocentBystander at 1:05 PM on January 30, 2008

seconding the above (on preview: never mind), but i'll add that it might be worthwhile to talk to either somebody in the diversity office, assuming your school has one, or an on-campus counselor/social worker. either of those might be able to either grease the wheels or even do some of the legwork for you.

FWIW, i find it really odd that past credits would disqualify you from being considered a first-year student. it seems far more common for universities to refuse transfer credit to those looking to enter as second- or third-years. indeed, if this guy is new, he may, in fact, be wrong about your status. also, he sounds like a jerk.
posted by wreckingball at 1:10 PM on January 30, 2008

I think you can either hire a lawyer to do this research for you, which will be prohibitively expensive, or do it yourself.

Think of your education, and your scholarship, as a way of moving forward and getting closure from the very issues you describe.
posted by uaudio at 1:12 PM on January 30, 2008

Response by poster: wreckingball: the worst thing is, he is new to this specific university but his answer to everything is "I have been working in college admissions for over twenty years, and I know you are not a first year student according to any of them." He pulls the "over twenty years" card again and again.
posted by InnocentBystander at 1:14 PM on January 30, 2008

From the legal system's point of view, those records are considered sealed. Some of them might not even be available to you.

Did you have an attorney appointed to you? You could ghost-write a letter for the attorney to sign, outlining and confirming the circumstances, and noting the she/he can't release the records because they are sealed. (I say ghost-write because the attorney probably no longer remembers much about the case.)

If no attorney, maybe ask the old social worker.

PS -- Notarized? WTF.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 1:15 PM on January 30, 2008

Response by poster: ClaudiaCenter: I have been looking into that, too, the sealed records thing. My college has destroyed all records relating to my abuse allegations (which I brought up for the first time while away at college) because it was more than five or seven years ago, I forget which. CPS said they would release them to the person who made the allegation. I'm not sure this jerk will be okay with just one type of record. At that time, I also tried to get a restraining order against my parents, but for various nitpicky reasons couldn't (the first among them being that minors need parental permission for restraining orders). I talked to a judge fairly extensively at that point, but I can't remember the judge's name for the life of me, and I'm sure he doesn't remember me. I was also arrested for running away and made abuse allegations after the arrest, but those records are not available.
posted by InnocentBystander at 1:22 PM on January 30, 2008

Does your school have a counseling center? That would be the first place I would go, though it is possible they would make you rehash things and might even side with the school. I'd also contact the old director of admissions and explain your situation.
posted by melissam at 1:23 PM on January 30, 2008

Presumably this mean admission guy has a boss, perhaps the vp of enrollment management? This may be a situation where you call that person's administrative assistant - not the boss him/herself - and ask for advice. The secretaries, especially at small colleges, know everything and everyone. Be super nice and throw yourself on her/his mercy.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 1:24 PM on January 30, 2008

Response by poster: Counseling center is a definite option. I'm going to make an appointment tomorrow. Thanks, melissam, that's a good idea.

The old director of admissions has seriously disappeared without a trace, no one has contact info for her. There's also no new director of admissions. The guy I'm currently squabbling with is the VP of admissions, meaning he currently has no boss but the Chancellor.
posted by InnocentBystander at 1:26 PM on January 30, 2008

hmm. it pains me to suggest this, because i have family in university administration and i know how profoundly irritating it is when students do this, but, if all else fails, appeal to someone higher up on the chain. if you file a complaint with the president's office, it'll get kicked down until it reaches his immediate supervisor. it won't be ignored (at least in my, admittedly indirect, experience) because ignored complaints become repeated complaints, and the president's office really isn't going to want those.

homeboy's just the admissions director; someone should be able to put him in his place.
posted by wreckingball at 1:26 PM on January 30, 2008

Seconding SweetieDarling and wreckingball-- go above this guy's head, especially if he's new. Yours sounds like a special case, so he may not know what he's talking about.

My first instinct would be that the guy wants to give you the scholarship, but also wants to cover his own ass in case it turns out that he makes a mistake.

So, provide him with the information from CPS. Explain that the transcripts and documentation from your prior school have been destroyed (perhaps get a letter from your former school stating this.)

Then, get the paperwork for the scholarship, and look for the "rules" as to what qualifies a person as a "first year student." That's *your* documentation, and you should hold him to those standards. If the scholarship documentation does not give those qualifications in writing, you should press him to get you some-- if it is true that this is the case at every school, it should be written down somewhere at yours. If it's not, he has no leg to stand on.

And in my experience, most prior/transfer credits are null and void if it's been longer than 5-10 years (time varies by schools). But you should look that up too (or talk to an advisor), and get it in writing.
posted by sarahnade at 1:34 PM on January 30, 2008

In addition to appealing up the chain of command...do you have any former college-level contacts (professors, advisors, deans) who could call and make enquiries on your behalf? It's easier for them to abuse you than to abuse Dr. So-and-so, who calls personally to tell them what a great student you are and what a valuable addition you'd make, and how it would be such a shame for a student with so much potential to fall thru the cracks because of a paperwork dispute, and isn't there an easy way to smooth all of this out...
posted by junkbox at 1:35 PM on January 30, 2008

PS- Don't let this guy or your past get the best of you. Obviously somebody thought you were awesome enough to receive one of the best scholarships, which will allow you to better yourself through education. Focus on the end goal-- your future success-- and that may help alleviate some of the stress.
posted by sarahnade at 1:39 PM on January 30, 2008

I think you have to distance yourself emotionally from this situation as much as you can before you proceed. Strictly speaking, you are not a first year student. He is interpreting it literally, and technically you probably do not meet the specific requirements for that particular scholarship (have you requested or seen any of the specific requirements?). Worse case scenario, he might think you applied for that scholarship in bad faith if you did not reveal your other college units. That does not mean you cannot appeal for some different type of scholarship assistance. Step back from the situation and stop thinking only of this one option and think about asking for some type of other scholarship. Maybe they can't give your the Aunt Ida Memorial Scholarship, but that doesn't mean they don't have the same amount of money in the Frank Donor Scholarship fund that you would qualify for. Talk to the director of the financial aid office and the chairman of your major department. I would not at this point pursue going over the VP's head. Academic politics don't take kindly to that sort of thing and you might find the entire administration will back the VP instead of you on the matter if you ruffle too many feathers. Be pleasantly persistant in pursuing your options, and realize you have more than one option. This might ease the pressure off so you can deal more remotely with the emotions it is stirring up to have to revisit your past.
posted by 45moore45 at 1:53 PM on January 30, 2008

This is just another battle you have to fight in order to win in the end. Don't let them keep you down.
posted by amtho at 1:57 PM on January 30, 2008

Response by poster: 45moore45, the situation is complicated by the fact that this is the second-best scholarship they offer. Nothing else remotely compares. it's the first best, this one, and then NOTHING, or as close to nothing as makes no difference. My current financial aid package until this is settled has no scholarship money except a piddly $1000 per year scholarship.

The specific requirements were posted on the application and it specifically said that you have to be a first-year student. The previous director of admissions said, hey, you're a first year because you're certainly not a second year. I revealed my college credits earned to her right from the beginning: in fact, I limited my college search to colleges that would give me first-year status and scholarships. Without this scholarship, I most certainly would not have come here. I like it here, though, and now we have a house here and everything, and now I definitely don't qualify for scholarships as a first-year anywhere else. They didn't tell me they weren't awarding the scholarship without the additional information until school had been in session over a month. That alone feels pretty shady. And it's a state school! You'd expect it of a fly-by-night, but one would think a state school would be better than that.
posted by InnocentBystander at 2:04 PM on January 30, 2008

Can you write down all the phone numbers and ask your husband very nicely to make these calls for you? I bet he could explain the situation calmly and even explain why he is calling instead of you if need be, without it taking up too much of his time. (Maybe 2 hours?) Then if you need to follow up with anyone personally since they would already know the situation it might not be as traumatic.

I dread phone calls generally, so my heart is with you. Good luck!
posted by onlyconnect at 2:09 PM on January 30, 2008

I think what you just wrote is very compelling and I change my advice-- I'd write what you just wrote to the president of that school. No school is going to want to look like they are pulling a bait and switch. I would focus on the amount of the scholarship, not the exact scholarship, though-- again, you might not meet their interpretation of that specific scholarship but believe me, every school has funds it can tap into when faced with a situation like what could amount to some very bad publicity (don't play that card yet).
posted by 45moore45 at 2:11 PM on January 30, 2008

Think of your education, and your scholarship, as a way of moving forward and getting closure from the very issues you describe.

I agree with this, but I also think it would be nice for your husband to help out as much as he can so you don't feel you're grappling with it by yourself.

What a bizarre situation, and how unlucky for you—the old director of admissions disappeared without a trace and the new guy is a pompous jerk. I really hope you can get this resolved in your favor. Bureaucracies can be nasty, but there's usually a way to slip around the obstacles if you get somebody on your side. Good luck!
posted by languagehat at 2:23 PM on January 30, 2008

Yes, go right to the president of the school. Tell him everything you have done and also that you feel like the admissions guy is making you relive your abuse. Good luck.
posted by LarryC at 2:35 PM on January 30, 2008 [3 favorites]

He said that what he wanted to see was EXTENSIVE documentation of what occurred -- including CPS records, notarized statements from college officials, et cetera -- and that then, possibly, maybe, he could give me the scholarship.

Oh yeah, I say in my sarcastic voice, this is a completely appropriate place for him to practice his power trips. Grr.

He said this stuff to intimidate you. If there are any records that you can obtain, go ahead and get them. Interpret his demand through your common sense filter.

In fact, get every piece of paper that you can think of that has anything to do with the time period. Put a copy of your high school diploma in there, for pete's sake. Make a big binder. Ask him for copies of everything relevant on his end "for your records." Also make a log of date and a brief summary of the conversations you had with his predecessor and all the conversations you've had with him so that you have your ducks in a row when you have to explain the sequence of events to the Chancellor. Which is what you'll likely have to do.

And you know what? Don't let the bastard grind you down. Draw on the wellspring of righteous indignation you've got right here. Imagine that we're all chanting over a cauldron for you.
posted by desuetude at 2:40 PM on January 30, 2008 [3 favorites]

Um, this is perhaps too simple: How about you get your husband, Innocent Bystander to step up and take care of the calls/paperwork for you? Give him a note/form saying that he is authorized to have a copy of necessary records, etc.
posted by filmgeek at 2:43 PM on January 30, 2008

The previous director of admissions said, hey, you're a first year because you're certainly not a second year.

Interesting. You've got a few credits, but a few credits does not a sophomore make. I wonder what the new guy would say if you asked him, so, if I'm not a first-year student, does that make me a second-year student?

I have no idea if this will help, but you might try dropping a line to the guy who runs Dean Dad - he's a community college dean with loads of experience in the bureaucratic college world - he may well have some resources or language that might ease your situation.

Sorry this is such a crappy situation. Sometimes when I have to do something for myself that I really don't want to do, I try to imagine that I'm actually doing it for someone else, and it gets easier. Dumb example: if I'm out driving around by myself and I get lost, I don't always ask for directions - but if I'm with someone, it's easy as pie to ask directions. Why? I dunno. Female helper gene maybe? Sounds ridiculous, but give it a shot. Good luck.
posted by rtha at 2:45 PM on January 30, 2008

This all sounds very peculiar to me. First YEAR student is not the same as first TIME student, which is what this admissions guy seems to be thinking of. If this is a scholarship for a first-year student, well, you are a first-year student.

I think the counselling centre is definitely a good place to start, and getting someone to make phone calls for you on your behalf might help ease you through this.

I also agree that you should go over this admissions guy's head if you need to. Post-secondary bureaucracies can be a nightmare and there is no shortage of petty tyrants, but there are also people who truly want to help you and will do all in their power to do so.

Good luck.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:47 PM on January 30, 2008

n'th recommendation for going to the president. They're (usually) very approachable and used to dealing with these types of situations (unfortunately). You might want to mention it to the body that represents students (student federation, or student counsel) as these organizations have some surprising amount of pull in a lot of institutions.
posted by purephase at 3:15 PM on January 30, 2008

Do you have any way of getting a hold of the previous director? He/she may not mind getting an email or call from you, and may be able to put in a call on your behalf. If scholarship promises were made to you in good faith based on the information that they already had about you and your past credits, this whole circus act is in bad taste, and perhaps the previous director would feel inclined to make some calls. I guarantee that he/she knows who the current director's boss is, and may feel comfortable enough letting the boss know why the previous decision was made, and suggesting that the admissions office not run you through all of this.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:15 PM on January 30, 2008

I don't think anyone has touched on this, but have you seen any doctors at all since that bad time? You mentioned going into a panic attack at the thought of having to rehash your past, so I'm thinking maybe a therapist or doctor's note on the matter would be useful, if only to add another piece of paper to your arsenal of "I'm not going down without a fight."
posted by infinityjinx at 3:17 PM on January 30, 2008

Seconding filmgeek. Definitely authorize someone (or several people) to deal with this on your behalf. Your husband's the first choice, but not the only one; you probably have friends who would be able and willing to help you too.

If your previous college records show you have less than one semester's worth of credits and probably show various subjects with "withdrawn after cutoff date - failure" or equivalent, those alone substantiate the fact that you left before completing even a semester, let alone a full year. Check the definition of "first year" and "prior credit" in the written rules. Failed subjects at other institutions should not count. Incomplete subjects at other institutions should not count. It seems distinctly odd to me that prior credit would affect the scholarship issue at all; I'd have thought the effect would be to reduce the duration of your scholarship, rather than going to eligibility. You need to go through the written rules, with a friend or two to help you.

Also given the circumstances, I suggest making a serious effort to track down the previous admissions director. If she only left recently, there's a good chance that her co-workers and previous staff will know where she's gone. They're not likely to have a problem with telling you where; even if they did, they would probably be willing to at least pass on a message to her. If they've been on friendly terms with her, they may have a personal email address or phone number and be willing to send a message on your behalf. Yours are distinctly special circumstances.

Most people are relatively easy to track down, especially if they're not actually hiding. Google for her name, initials and surname, surname and the town, surname and the university, check telephone directories, call people with the same surname and ask if they are relatives. If she went to another job, you may be able to find out what industry (probably education), then call the switchboards of other universities and colleges around your home town, and ask if she works there, mentioning that she is a new employee. If she moved town and you can track down her old address, pay a visit and ask the current residents if they have a forwarding address for mail. If it's a house they bought from her, they definitely have contact details. Once again, if they're unwilling to tell you, ask if they'll make a call and pass on your mobile phone number and tell her it's an urgent matter and you need her advice.

Now in an ideal world the previous admissions director would have documented her conversation with you (if you have emails or letters, these constitute documentation) and put it in your file, but this is not necessarily the case. So once you do track her down, she can tell you how (if) she documented it, and if not, she may be willing to write a letter for you explaining why she came to the conclusion she did (keep a copy for yourself), which will help you sort out what it is you need to provide to the new director to get him to follow the same line of reasoning. She will also be able to give you some hints as to what appeals process you would need to go through, and how you might best be able to do this. (Whether she's willing is another matter, but it's reasonably likely.)

Also, the fact of your current anxiety and that reliving these issues is giving you panic attacks so many years later is a problem in itself, and I would encourage you to go see a counsellor, doctor, or mental health professional. You'll get through this, but in the future, situations may crop up again in your life that bring these issues to the fore.

Now whatever happens here you will get through this, and you will be OK. This is a financial issue. Clearly you are capable of doing the course and you want to do it. The worst case scenario here is they don't give you the scholarship, which would mean you'd be out a bunch of money, you may have to do the course at another institution or through distance education, you may have to take out a loan, it will take longer to complete the degree, organizing all this might delay your enrolment by a semester or a year, and you will probably have to have a part-time job, but you can still succeed. At worst this is a delay, not a failure.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:31 PM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

Depending on the size of the college you want to attend, you may have several people to call on to help you. Many colleges of a decent size have a lawyer for the students to consult for legal advice.

What about your advisor? If you have picked an area of study, and even if you haven't most-times, there is a professional who is there to help you get through college. Your advisor can be your best defense against red tape.

Also, there is likely someone who is in charge of financial aid/scholarships. They are likely to be sympathetic to your cause and, hopefully, not directly employed by admissions.

I hope you take that extensive documentation and shove it up his bum.
posted by Foam Pants at 5:14 PM on January 30, 2008

You know, it just occurred to me that the new guy playing hardball and the old director disappearing without a trace as you put it--are related. The new guy might have been placed there to clean house and restore order. Perhaps the old director overstepped their bounds and their budget and your scholarship is a reflection of that. That could be why that person is gone and nobody is talking about what happened to them. However, if you chose that school and uprooted your life to take advantage of their generous offer, then they should honor it.
posted by 45moore45 at 6:27 PM on January 30, 2008

I realize you don't have an emotional distance with this right now, but try to look at this from his perspective, all he knows is that you have a few old credits, and that there is a large amount of money on the table if you can convince him to let (what he thinks are) the rules slide.

A friend of mine once completely skipped a class, didn't drop the class by deadline, and of course failed. She made up a story about her boyfriend dumping her, so she was too distraught to take the class. That wouldn't fly with the teacher, so she appealed and then said that her boyfriend had been financially supporting her, and she won her appeal and was allowed to drop the course... after the end of the semester. She never even had a boyfriend, as far as I know.

I know it's painful for you, but I don't think his request for documentation is too unreasonable. Maybe he was being a dick in his delivery, I don't know.
posted by delmoi at 7:06 PM on January 30, 2008

This guy is way out of line. At the least, he's being a stickler for the rules and at the worst he is retraumatizing you. If it were me, I'd tell him that information was sealed once you became an adult and is no longer available.

If the information you provided allowing you to leave school the first time was good enough for that school, the information you give this jackass should be good enough.

No, he does not need notarized, Confidential documents. No, he does not need a letter from your social worker at the time of the abuse.

What he needs is a reality check and a swift kiss in the ass, because who the hell does he think he is to require you to supply that kind of intimate information to a complete stranger. Not to mention the very likely possibility that none of that information or contacts will be available or accessible to you. Social workers move, files get lost, children grow up.

You should bring your concerns to the university president and chancellor, then go to the ACLU or mental healh advocacy groups like NAMI. You discussed your situation with the previous person in that post and were under a good faith understanding that you qualified for the award. Your being victimized was the reason you had to leave school in the first place. By him placing these additional requirements on what was already appropriated, he is victimizing you again.
posted by mynameismandab at 8:16 PM on January 30, 2008

Oh honey. I don't really have any answers for you with your specific situation, but I can understand the trauma. One of my good friends suffered sexual assault last year, which caused her to do badly in her exams (she normally does very well, even while juggling a full time job). One of her lecturers suggested a retrospective withdrawal, which means that her fail credits don't count towards her final GPA and she starts clean on those subjects.

Thing is, that involves gathering similarly extensive paperwork on her part - police reports, witness statements, etc etc. Everytime she goes to pick a letter up she breaks down; she's been near suicidal. She feels better but it's still quite a trying time.

I personally was considering getting special consideration too for my bad grades (I had a depression-filled year too, don't want to get into details) but the paperwork and the hassle, not to mention me being international, wasn't worth it.

I don't understand why universities demand such hardship; it's like they don't know compassion. Some people say it's to filter out the fakers - but it's the ones who have legitimate cases that would have the most difficulty carrying out this paperwork! Argh.

Good luck and please let us know how it goes. We're all rooting for you.
posted by divabat at 9:56 PM on January 30, 2008

I just skimmed through the replies (many, many good ones), and I didn't see anything about possibly contacting the Office of Disability Services, if they have one. That could be worthwhile if you have obtained treatment for any depression issues or similar problems due to your past. I've worked in a few departments of that nature, and your success working with them would largely depend on the nature of your medical history and the willingness of the department to view your situation as relevant (some Disability Services offices are much more focused on physical disability, or disability as it relates to class work/campus life/whatever). But you'd probably have a much better chance of finding someone who appreciates the extreme difficulty you're experiencing in revisiting this era, and you could end up with a powerful advocate for your position. (Hopefully this comment is rendered totally irrelevant by all the other excellent answers, but I really hope this works out for you, and I figured I'd share this alternate option in case nothing else works out.)
posted by Banky_Edwards at 10:00 PM on January 30, 2008

delmoi: You try being in her shoes for a moment, then you see why your suggestion is unreasonable.

As far as "stickler for the rules" - I got my scholarship even though I technically didn't qualify. It was meant for 2nd year students in my faculty who had transferred elsewhere from doing their 1st year in another uni; I did half of my first year in this same uni. I still got it because I was the best of all the applicants. Since you were considered one of the best too, you have a strong advantage.

Also, this may be an odd suggestion, but does your college have a chaplain? I've found that the chaplain in my university was tons more helpful than the counsellors, and they weren't even pushing religion on me. That's another source for emotional support, if nothing else.
posted by divabat at 10:10 PM on January 30, 2008

Banky_Edwards: I just skimmed through the replies (many, many good ones), and I didn't see anything about possibly contacting the Office of Disability Services, if they have one. That could be worthwhile if you have obtained treatment for any depression issues or similar problems due to your past.

Oh yes yes yes! See if there's some sort of Equity office in your uni. My uni has one and I only just discovered that they provide help for students struggling with depression (yay). They could certainly be of help.
posted by divabat at 10:15 PM on January 30, 2008

What I know about the higher ed system could fit in a thimble but... How many credits are we talking about here? Must you transfer the credits? Is it mandatory for the credits to transfer? Wouldn't it be easier to enjoy your scholarship and take an extra English 101 class? Hell, ya might learn something ;-)

Not that I'm advocating giving in to this bureaucratic wingnut, mind you. It just seems if you didn't finish one semester on your first go-round, we can't really be talking about that many credits. Can we?
posted by thomsplace at 3:12 AM on January 31, 2008

Response by poster: We're not talking about many credits at all. But they force you to transfer them. Really.
posted by InnocentBystander at 9:42 AM on January 31, 2008

Best answer: You're feeling trapped in a nightmare situation. Don't. There's more than one route to keeping your scholarship, and only one of them involves reliving the past.

a) PLAY BY HIS TERMS. accept his premise that you are ineligible without documentation of the abuse (and may still be ineligible even with that documentation), gather all that paperwork for him and cross your fingers

b) NEUTRALIZE. dispute his premise by documenting that you met the minimum requirements that existed at the time the award was made, therefore end of story and no basis for him to demand info about your personal life history.

c) PLAY BY YOUR TERMS. shift the burden of proof, insisting that the university honor their previous commitment unless they can show proof that you deceived the award committee

d) MOVE THE PLAYING FIELD. put them on notice that the scholarship was awarded and accepted in good faith regardless of whatever technicality he may perceive, and that you'll fight back aggressively (i.e. complain to anyone who'll listen including the chancellor, state board of ed, school newspaper, local reporters, local women's/child defense groups, and lawyer) if they try to back out on the promise now.

Honestly, "first year" and "first time" are not the same thing. Twenty years experience or not, perhaps he's just gotten it wrong. Before you do anything, clarify which the scholarship is designated for and what the university's official definition of "first year" is. The admissions office, or college catalog, should have the latter.

Can you ask to review your file? Even if the former official is inaccessible, the records and personal notations in your file probably would clarify that the school knew you'd previously attended college when they chose to give you the award.

This guy's claiming on the one hand that you are patently ineligible, and on the other hand that "extensive" documentation of an irrelevant (to scholarship criteria) fact will earn your an exception. This tells you two things: one, he has the power to use personal discretion, that it is in fact possible for a non-first year to hold this scholarship; and two, that he prefers to be a dick about it.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 2:18 PM on January 31, 2008 [2 favorites]

"I have been working in college admissions for over twenty years, and I know you are not a first year student according to any of them."

In that belief, at least, he is flat out wrong. Of course, the standard that matters is your school's definition. But if there isn't one in writing, the policies of peer colleges and the Department of Education should be accepted as evidence that your scholarship has been properly awarded.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 2:59 PM on January 31, 2008

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