Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

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.


Blogger Sabra said...

Well hell. I'm very sorry to hear that.

8/22/2009 2:49 PM

Blogger ttk3 said...

Damn, that's a shock. Now they have you and they know it. I just got out of school and over the course of the last 5 years, tuition increased nearly 20%...

8/22/2009 3:16 PM

Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

Sounds worthy of a campaign involving factual but frank letters to a whole bunch of WSU Regents, the school's president, and leaders in both the Washington legislature and the governor. Kick 'em in the balls.

And do consider the Huskies. YouDub be great school (YouDub '65).

8/22/2009 3:20 PM

Blogger MT1(SS) WidgetHead said...

$7,000 per semester in tuition? For a State University? Damn that's steep.

Washington has no state income tax.
I suspect that's part of the reason why WSU is so expensive. I could be wrong but is that why the school has little or no state funding?

Joel, I hope you find another alternative here.

8/22/2009 4:09 PM

Blogger phw said...


8/22/2009 4:09 PM

Anonymous GoldChop said...

Been here, done this, fairly recently. I had a 3.98 in high school with a 32 ACT score, and got screwed similarly by Southern Illinois University Carbondale right out of the is the biggest scam in the US right now, which is a bold statement. I muddled through and finished, only because I knew that I would be well and truly hosed looking for jobs and opportunities if I didn't, but it was one of the most painful things in which I ever took tour right now on a Trident seems like a walk in the park by comparison. Best of luck.

8/22/2009 4:37 PM

Blogger Kari said...

I'm a recent college grad. who got full tuition & fees for 4 years from a National Merit Scholarship, but like your son, I "used" the official one on a different university, then changed my mind about where I wanted to go. Luckily, when I talked to the fin. aid people at the second university, they agreed to act like I chose them for the National Merit Award.

I hope you talk to other universities about your son's situation and that he can get a second chance to use it at another school he likes! Good luck!

8/22/2009 4:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I'm sorry to hear that, you hit the nail on the said: should've gotten it in writing.

Devil's advocate: why not suck up the $7K this semester while considering your options? Kind of draconian to pull out this late in the game.

8/22/2009 5:11 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Had I not had the cancer, paying the money might have been an option.

8/22/2009 5:15 PM

Anonymous ninme said...

Hot damn that sucks. I say show up at the place offering room and board, explain what happened, promise you'll get the scholarship turned around, then sue wasu or something. I'd also turn the waterworks on with the national merit people (send your wife, or a young orphan, in your place to maximize the effect of this), and then turn the full power of your blog and letter-to-editor skills to raise an almighty embarrassing stink.

What a crock. Unbelievable.

8/22/2009 5:23 PM

Anonymous Chris Witmer said...

Sounds like your son just got a great education from WSU, and it didn't cost him a cent. I'd call that a bargain. Treasure the lesson because it could prove to be one of the most valuable of his life.

8/22/2009 6:28 PM

Blogger CDR Salamander said...

Ungh. Sorry to hear about that shipmate.


You could go all nuke school on them and make it painful ......

8/22/2009 6:50 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't get anything in writing? You might as well been talking to a Navy Recruiter!

If it ain't in the procedure.....

Idaho has some great schools!

8/22/2009 7:44 PM

Anonymous Brian said...

I graduated a year ago. From what I've seen / heard, financial aid is messed up in so many ways where ever you go. My school had the laziest and dumbest working in student services / financial aid. If I didn't love my major (mech eng) and my profs, I would have left. It was ridiculous some of the things. Took me 3 or 4 months to get a transcript from them!

Word of advice for all - research! Don't go just by what the school says, look around. I almost got screwed out of my job because my degree is slightly different then a normal degree. Always check accreditation and when they need to reup. The architecture program at my school changed accreditations 3 or 4 times. My friends went in for architectural technology and come out with regular architect degrees, with no actual engineering courses taken! (It wasn't messed up to be messed up, they decided to turn a 4 year program into a 5 with a masters degree)

8/22/2009 10:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm seeing a lot of comments talking about getting degrees in 4 or 5 years. There is no possible reason why it should take that long. My advice to college kids --Load up on as many credits as you can each semester and for the love of God take summer classes.

Overall it will cost about the same as staying in school for 4 years but if you factor in entering the workforce earlier it really pays off.

I finished school in 2.5 years. Sure, I didn't drink as much beer and the other students my age but I got on with my real life alot earlier.

@GoldChop - I agree college is a pretty big scam but the biggest scam right now is High School education. There is a lot of stigma attached to the GED but you can get one at 16 or 17 and if you do well on the ACT/SAT you will still get accepted to great schools and even be competative for scholarships.

Kids...Don't fall for the crap that your teachers are telling you. You don't need to waste 4 years in High School and another 4 years in college. There are ways to short cut the system it just takes a lot of effort and work on your part. Most HS teachers won't tell you about them because fewer students means less funding. They would rather waste the full 4 years of your life in order to secure their paychecks.

8/22/2009 11:06 PM

Anonymous Chris Witmer said...

The last poster's comments are well taken. We all know there has been a steady dumbing down and watering down of education. If you keep your nose to the grind stone, at most schools you can condense what is stretched out over four (or more) years into a much shorter time frame. This is good not only because you get out of school and into the work force faster -- but because you become much "sharper" under a denser, meatier course load. The best advice was perhaps the part about taking courses during the summer months. A double thumbs up to THAT! If would be great if you can find some way to keep yourself challenged during ALL extended break periods. You stay in high gear and smoothly oiled while everyone else gets rusty and dull.

My kids were/are all home schooled -- largely self-educated. Although we are outside the USA, our older kids have so far gotten their high school degrees through Alger Learning Center and Independence High School in Washington. They do this at age 16 or 17, which allows them to apply for college earlier than other kids, and they end up getting into college either at the "normal" age, or a year earlier. Since we are outside the USA, advanced placement courses are irrelevant but if you play your cards right you can have your degree and be done with college by the age that most others are just getting into it.

8/23/2009 1:19 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm the anon at 5:11. Seriously. that blows. The more I think about it the more it &#$#es me off to think that a large state school bait-and-switched a National Merit Scholar from out of state.

Push 'em! Letters to the editor, blog, etc.... No reason not to keeping pushing WSU while working other schools in parallel.

8/23/2009 4:30 AM

Blogger Michael (Shane) Tutwiler said...

Though it will take some extra footwork this semester, he *should* be able to register and apply his NMS at a regional school with little added pain and suffering.

As intelligent and self motivated as he is, I'm sure he'll be a stand-out wherever he lands. I'm a firm believer that, with a few notable exceptions, *where* you do your undergrad degree is far less important than how well you apply yourself in-process. Best of luck to you all!

As for the posts advocating 2.5 and 3 year degree completion is very possible, but not viable for all fields. My wife is an actuary, for example. She could've easily finished her degree in 3 years, but she'd never have been hired because the most competitive positions require one if not two internships on your resume to even apply. Teachers (like myself) are another example. I finished all of my coursework in two years, but spent the other two doing practicums and student teaching. I'm in the same boat now with my Doctorate...1.5 years to finish the coursework, and another 1.5 to 2 years of dissertation work, independent of any classes.

8/23/2009 11:23 AM

Anonymous Jill Kuraitis said...

Wow. I have nothing helpful to say, but I will say that good for you to have raised a National Merit Scholar. That's a very big title because it is truly an elite group. They don't pass the title out to very many.

8/23/2009 2:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since school has already started this semester, what about Rob going to a nearby Junior College for this semester and taking 15-18 credit hours? He could transfer those credits to a four year institution for next semester.

That would give you plenty of time to find another University to attend.

8/23/2009 7:22 PM

Blogger Buck said...

Don't let them get away with this - definitely call and write every person who has any political juice.

School aid is turning into yet another one of those places where they keep the money instead of spending it in order to show 'a profit.'

Kudos on being able to relate this experience in such a calm manner.

8/24/2009 8:05 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't there a program for the Western 16 states that allows an individual to go to any state university for 1.5 times the resident tuition? My daughter did this in 2001. Graduated High School in Beaverton, Or and went to undergrad at University of Hawaii at 1.5 times resident rate. Or is it too late to apply for this?

8/24/2009 8:35 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Yes, that's the Western Undergraduate Exchange I mentioned in the original post.

8/24/2009 10:43 AM

Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

All kidding aside, what about Oregon State or UNLV with their NucE programs?

Speaking of NucE, has anyone heard from the EM-Log (my favorite, err, second favorite blogger FTN)? It's been several months...

8/25/2009 10:07 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been a student at Purdue University for 10 1/2 years (B.S., M.S., and Ph.D.). In that time tuition and fees have more than doubled from < $4,000 per year tuition and fees to $8,638* per year.

So $7,000 overage for an out-of-state student isn't surprising. It's just depressing.

*Technology, Engineering and Management have additional fees.

8/25/2009 11:51 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are ridiculous. I am a student and WSU and I have received full financial aid all my years attending. You claims of lying and "not getting his awards we promised in writing" is total bullshit. you are sent 3 (THREE!!) financial award notifications over the summer telling you EXACTLY what you have been awarded and what you will have left over to pay on your own. The award is also posted on your so you DID receive everything in writing several times. sounds more like you can't read a simple letter. GO COUGS!!!!!!

8/25/2009 3:53 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Actually, the Financial Aid Award statements never mentioned the National Merit Scholarship, and we were repeatedly told that the next one would when we called them to bring that discrepancy up. Sorry, but you have no idea what you're talking about.

8/25/2009 5:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Probably for the best. WSU is full of hillbilly buttfuckers.

8/26/2009 4:15 PM

Anonymous SubBasket said...

To anonymous poster who posted at 3:53 pm on Tuesday the 25th of August I would like to say one thing about WSU. You are right in the fact that they did post his awards on his website (except his National Merit Scholarship and written us about the awards but his National Merit Scholarship). What Bubblehead is mentioning is that when aproached about this situation and the fact that WSU mislead, misguided us, lied to us is when we called to inform them about this they promised each time they would fix the situation and never did. There is where the lie was. So let me see: A) you are saying that bubblehead can not read. Even though bubblehead his a National Merit Schalor from Nebraska himself so we have two in our family that have won this award B) he can not read, but he help build not ONE but TWO nuc subs reactors(not one other ENG in the Navy has done this) c) he can not read yet bubblehead got a chemistary degree from University of Kansas (which is a stronger actademic university than WSU) in three(3)years. So I have made three points that favor bubblehead and your point is what? WSU still failed our son and yet you want to claim bubblehead can not read or get anything in writing. I say GOOOOOOOOOOO HUSKIES!!!!!!!!!!

8/26/2009 4:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh oh! I think we now know who the man of the Bubblehead family is.

Next thing you know, Bubblehead will have links to Oprah.

8/26/2009 10:22 PM

Blogger Idaho Dad said...

Sorry to hear about this. I remember the excitement and anticipation of going away to college, to be independent and away from mom and dad for the first time. Your son must be feeling kind of down to have plans change. Boise State's a fine school in many regards (my wife is a grad), but nothing beats the experience of getting away from home. I hope your son looks into another school, like the UI. I know they'd treat you right. The UI has more National Merit Scholars than most Northwest colleges, so they know how to handle them. Moscow is an excellent place for students to have that residential experience while earning a marketable degree.

8/27/2009 2:25 PM

Anonymous Thom George said...

Go Broncos!

Joel, sorry to hear about this. I just dropped my oldest child off at BSU, last Thursday and she loves it! I hope your son is able to adjust to the obvious disappointment inflicted by WSU and thrive at BSU. And congrats to all of you on his National Merit award, I have an 11th grade son who is trying for that this year, I know how much effort and talent it requires.

8/28/2009 8:49 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Subbasket loves her man

8/28/2009 11:00 AM

Anonymous iotech said...

The local news here in the Boise area is carrying Joel's son's story:

8/28/2009 5:34 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Good job Bubblehead. One of the nice things about the web is that everyone can be heard. If your cause just happens to be telling who will take up the fight. I'm sure WSU loves the attention they are getting. Good for them, they earned it!

8/29/2009 7:41 PM

Blogger Michael (Shane) Tutwiler said...

Just saw the video. You raised a fine young man, sir. Well spoken, measured, and focused.


8/30/2009 2:22 PM

Blogger Eric said...

Accusing WSU of lying implies malicious intent. While it is possible, I think it more likely that bubblehead and his son were the victims of simple incompetence. Universities are full of exceptional students and brilliant profs, but have equally -- but polar -- huge bumbling bureaucracies that will drive all but the most persistent to distraction.

Just assume the Uni is going to screw up the administrative side of things, and stay on top of what is important.

9/03/2009 8:10 PM

Blogger Michael (Shane) Tutwiler said...

It does appear as though WSU needs 1) higher admissions standards and 2) more remedial English courses, assuming "Anonymous 2:23pm" is a student and not a member of the custodial staff.

(No offense to any custodial engineers or A-gangers.)

9/12/2009 3:04 PM

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being former submariner and Husky alum I guess I'll be the first to say - What did you expect from WSU? They Coug'd it!

Glad BSU could step up to the plate.


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