College Planning Resources
Protecting Yourself From Scholarship Scams
- If you must pay money to get money, it might be a scam
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
- Spend the time, not the money
- Never invest more than one postage stamp to get information about scholarships
- Nobody can guarantee that you will win a scholarship
- Legitimate scholarship foundations do not charge scholarship fees
- If you're suspicious of an offer, it is usually with good reason
Warning Signs In Detail
Certain signs can help you identify scholarship scams
- Application Fees: Be wary of any "scholarship" that requests an application fee, even a fee as low as $2.
- Loan Fees: Be wary if you have to pay a fee in advance of obtaining an educational loan. Legitimate loans never require an up-front fee when you submit the application
- Guaranteed Winnings: No legitimate scholarship sponsor will guarantee that you'll win an award. No scholarship matching services can guarantee that you will win an award either
- Everybody is Eligible: NO scholarship sponsor hands out money to students simply for breathing; all scholarship sponsors are looking for candidates who best match certain criteria
- The unclaimed aid myth: You may be told that millions of dollars of scholarships go unused each year because students don't know where to apply. This is not true. There are no unclaimed scholarships
- We Apply on Your Behalf: To win a scholarship, you must submit your own application.
- Claims of Influence with Scholarship Sponsors: Scholarship matching services do not have any control the awarding of scholarships by third parties
- High Success Rates: Overstated claims of success are a tip-off to a scam. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
- Excessive Hype: If a brochure uses a lot of hyperbole ("free money", "guaranteed", "first-come, first-served") be careful, Also be wary of terms such as: "invitation number", "immediate confirmation".
- NO Telephone Number: Most legitimate scholarship programs include a telephone number for inquiries with their application materials
- Masquerading as a Federal Agency: If you receive an offer from an organization with an official sounding name, check whether there really is a federal agency with that name.
- Time Pressure: If you must respond quickly and won't hear results for several months, it may be a scam
- Notification by the phone: If you win a scholarship, you will receive written notification, not by phone
- A Florida or California address: Many scams seem to originate in California or Florida
Practical Tips to Avoid Scholarship Scams
- Be cautious if fees are involved
- Ask your college counselor if your are unsure
- Never give out personal information to strangers
- Ask the organization how it got your name
- Ignore offers that involve time pressure