Five months after the start of the school year, Washington's Department of Human Resources still has not issued checks to any of the 1,600 college students who applied for money under a $680,000 scholarship program it administers for low-income dents.
The sscholarships, called state student incentive grants, are administered by the same DHR office that operates the city's low-interest college student loan. No loans have been made since last summer because of widespread defaults.
Jacqueline Johnson, an assistant director of DHR said the agency had hoped to mail the scholarship checks in October.
She said it delayed action and cut down the size of awards in an effort to help some of the students who couldn't get loans. About 400 checks now are being processed, Mrs. Johnson said, and eventually about 800 students will get some money.
Half of the funds come from the U.S. government, and half from the District of Columbia.
This is the second year the city has offered that scholarship grants. Last year it started the program in January, but didn't hand out the first checks until June, just as the school year was ending.
Because it could not disburse all the money it was allotted, the District had to return about $67,000 to the federal treasury.
The grants are based on financial need, using a complicated formula that takes into account both family resources and the expenses at different colleges.
The maximum scholarship is $1,500 a year.
Yesterday Mrs. Johnson said the money is being given to students on a first-come, first-served basis, depending on when their completeed applications were received.
Sources in DHR said many applications that had small errors were set aside by the director of DHR's educations assistance office, Eloise Turner. In a few cases, they said, where Mrs. Turner was familiar with the applicant, more information was requested and the grants were approved.
Mrs. Turner could not be reached for comment.
Mrs. Johnson strongly denied that any applicants have been given special consideration. "We have dealt with all these applications fairly," she said. "We have used the normal verifications for every applicant."