By Sergio Bichao
PISCATAWAY — Robin K. Bagley was a model student at Kean University.
A perfect 4.0 grade-point average; a full scholarship to the school’s demanding New Jersey Center for Science, Technology and Mathematics; valedictorian of the Class of 2010; and a top graduate of the master’s degree program a year later.
But the 24-year-old local resident recently learned that all that means nothing in the face of an important truth: A contract is a contract.
The lesson came in the mail last month in the form of nine semesters’ worth of past tuition bills totaling nearly $25,000 — all due immediately.
A couple of years after graduating with top honors, the Union County-based research university revoked Bagley’s scholarship.
When Bagley accepted the scholarship for the accelerated five-year program in her sophomore year, she agreed to eventually get a job teaching at a New Jersey public high school for at least three years.
Fail to keep up grades or get that teaching job within five months, and that scholarship becomes a loan. So says a copy of a sample contract provided to the Courier News, a sister entity of DailyRecord.com, by a university spokesman on Wednesday.
But while Bagley kept up her scores, last year she accepted an offer from the University of Kentucky to enroll in its doctoral program.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. They said, ‘Come out and we will pay you to come here and get a doctorate,’ ” her mother, Jill Bagley, said about the Kentucky offer.
School officials, however, didn’t want to give any leeway — but never gave her a definitive “no,” either, Jill Bagley said.
In a statement, university spokesman Matthew Caruso said Kean created the program “specifically to help address the shortage of qualified science and mathematics teachers in New Jersey, and across the nation.”