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