Big Spam on Campus: That Acceptance Email Could Self-Destruct
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) Last week 2,500 people who applied for early admission at Fordham University got email notices that they were in two days before decisions on admission were expected to go out. The letters, generated by a vendor contracted by the university, went to people who had not been admitted at all.
Once Fordham owned up, the offers of admission were revoked a few hours later.
Fordham blamed an IT glitch problems which did not hit the social media platforms where students posted news of their good fortune, only to have to eat their words, videos and selfies later.
Fordham spokesperson Bob Howe said that the notices did not go out in a financial aid letter contrary to a December 13 story in The New York Times . "The letter sent last week was supposed to go to admitted students," Howe stated. "It urged them to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form (FAFSA) so that Fordham could start determining aid packages. The letter did not contain an aid offer." The FAFSA application is developed by the federal government through the Department of Education.
Howe said 500 of the applicants were rejected while decisions on the remaining 2,000 were deferred.
"Some outlets reported that students who were not accepted as opposed to deferred can reapply," Howe stated. "That is not true. Students whose applications were deferred to the regular admission cycle will be notified in March."
A similar event occurred last year when 254 people who applied for early admission at Vassar were told they were in only to be told they were out several hours later. Vassar sent out what it called a "test letter" that had been intended as a "placeholder" for the legit reject letter that should have gone out instead.
assar coded up its own Website for early admissions candidates, where the ill-fated letter appeared. Vassar spokesperson Jeff Kosmacher said yesterday that the college is continuing to do this in-house. "We've debugged the system and have created multiple fire walls that will prevent this from happening in the future," he said.
Fordham went the outsource route, contracting with Student Aid Services, or SAS, a subsidiary of the Sacramento, Calif.-based Rezolve Group. SAS has been servicing the back end, providing "Award letters and Shopping Sheets" that "communicate targeted value propositions and personal affordability messages to prospective student" according to its Website, along with its Net Price calculators and related tools designed to estimate costs at specific schools . Another Rezolve subsidiary, Financial Aid Services, builds a call center-based solution pitched to the borrower on the front end of the student loan processdealing with the FAFSA.
Howe indicated that the university was satisfied with the way SAS handled the crisis. In addition to troubleshooting the cause of the errant emails, he said that SAS CEO Craig Carroll "placed extra advisors on SAS's Fordham phone lines to ensure that queries are answered promptly by a live advisor." He added that Fordham also has extra personnel responding to applicant queries via phone and email.