Ambiguous usage of 'Qualify'

Please help, we are having a big debate here! We have two interpretations for the meaning of a sentence.

"We are now offering merit-based scholarships in which all students admitted for the fall '18 semester qualify."

Would you read this as:

"All students who are admitted qualify (are definitely entitled to) a merit-based scholarship"

OR do you think it is more like:

"All students who are admitted qualify for a scholarship, if they meet merit-based criteria"

Comments

  • I don't see how the first interpretation could possibly be a true paraphrase.

    Qualify is vague, but the meaning can't be stretched to 'are definitely entitled to'.
    In this context, I don't see how it can have any meaning other than
    'meet the criteria so that they can be considered'.

    The second paraphrase could be made more explicit

    All students who are admitted to the College/University for the semester of 2018

    After such a wordy SUBJECT, I'd prefer the heavier

    will qualify

    The rest of the paraphrase promises too much. The original wording allows for the possibility of not awarding scholarships if students are not of sufficiently high merit. Nor does it signal that there are any criteria — other than being in the fall 2018 intake.
    I would paraphrase something like this:

    We are offering new scholarships. These will be open to students admitted for the semester of 2018, and will be awarded on merit.

  • edited February 6

    Thanks. The first sentence was expressed to me by a college, and I took it at face value, when they did not intend to fulfill such promise. I wanted to run it by you to make sure I wasn't going crazy, thank you for confirming my suspicions. Your analysis is on-point.

    @DavidCrosbie said:
    I don't see how the first interpretation could possibly be a true paraphrase.

    Qualify is vague, but the meaning can't be stretched to 'are definitely entitled to'.
    In this context, I don't see how it can have any meaning other than
    'meet the criteria so that they can be considered'.

    The second paraphrase could be made more explicit

    All students who are admitted to the College/University for the semester of 2018

    After such a wordy SUBJECT, I'd prefer the heavier

    will qualify

    The rest of the paraphrase promises too much. The original wording allows for the possibility of not awarding scholarships if students are not of sufficiently high merit. Nor does it signal that there are any criteria — other than being in the fall 2018 intake.
    I would paraphrase something like this:

    We are offering new scholarships. These will be open to students admitted for the semester of 2018, and will be awarded on merit.

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