HELP ME HAYLEY: Scholarship sorrow plagues Spokane teen - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

HELP ME HAYLEY: Scholarship sorrow plagues Spokane teen

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Brittany Reilly wants other students to learn from her experience Brittany Reilly wants other students to learn from her experience
SPOKANE, Wash. -

Where is the money? That's the question one local student had been asking about her scholarship fund all year. When the check didn't come on time, she had to drop out of her dream school. She doesn't want any other student to go through the same heartache, so she said "Help Me Hayley."

The mock DUI crash at Brittany Reilly's high school was so much more than a project.

"Drinking and driving was a huge problem," she said. "I was so close to so many people in my small school. To think about one of them dying in something that was completely preventable, it really got to me."

When Brittany got involved in the efforts to prepare and execute the mock crash for her classmates, all she said she wanted was to get through to her peers. She said she was blindsided when high school staff informed her, her hardwork had landed her a scholarship from local businessman, Paul Fuchs with "Project Imprint."

"(The scholarship) could pay for an entire quarter," she said. "It meant my goals were really achievable."

Brittany showed KHQ texts she said the donor sent her shortly after she recieved news of the award at an end of the year banquet. One text said details on the scholarship would be "coming soon" adding a "great job" at the end of the message. Brittany said she felt like all her dreams were well within her reach. 

"For a long time, I didn't think it'd be able to become what I wanted to be in life because of money," she said.

Brittany told KHQ she felt on top of the world as she began classes at Western Washington University. She said that's what made the left down all the more painful.

"I waited and waited for the money," she said.

Bills were pilling up, and so were the excuses from Fuchs, according to Brittany.

"He was telling me it was on the way, that the check was in the mail, or the check was made out to the wrong person," she said.

She said staff at the university worked with her to try to resolve the situation, even speaking to Fuchs themselves. School officials at Western did confirm to KHQ, they never received any funds from Mr. Fuchs for Brittany. She said she relied on that money to make ends meet, and eventually the financial burden became too much. 

"I had to drop out for a quarter because I couldn't afford it," she said. "I was angry for awhile."

She moved home to save money, and enrolled at Eastern. 

"School has always been very important to me," she said.

And while she is enjoying herself now, she does want to share her story to caution others who are relying on scholarship money. KHQ looked into how you can prevent the same problems for your student.

Here's the advice from Director of College and Career Readiness for Spokane Public School's Melissa Pettery : "Anyone can offer a scholarship, so it doesn't have to go through a filter or a data base," she said. "There a good scholarship and bad scholarships."

Pettery said legitimate scholarships have a "level playing field" and a "firm deadline for submissions." Experts also warn not to always count on funds before doing your homework about the scholarship and the vet the source. Finally, remember, there are people on your student's campus who want to help. Don't wait too long to simply ask for help.

KHQ is all about getting results, and so we are very happy to say that we did indeed get results for Brittany. KHQ was able to speak to Paul Fuchs directly about the matter. He said the scholarship is legit, and claims he did send in a check to WWU on Brittany's behalf. He said the check was never cashed, and has no idea where that check wound up. He also said he agreed to a $1,000 scholarship, while Brittany maintains she was told it was for $2,000. 

Fuchs came to the KHQ studios Thursday with a receipt for the thousand-dollar scholarship check he dropped off at Brittany's new school earlier that day. KHQ's Dan Kleckner accepted that receipt on Brittany's behalf; we also wanted to give Fuchs a chance to explain what had happened.

"There were mistakes made in communications," Fuchs said. "My intentions were good from the get-go. This was never intended to give anybody grief, especially the students who spent all that time; that's where my heart is.

"I want to thank Hayley for calling me because I wasn't getting the communication to make that deposit," explained Fuchs. "In the end, I'm glad this is taken care of."

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