Searching for scholarships can be time consuming and confusing. Scholarship scam artists prey on people who are trying to reduce the time spent searching for scholarships. The following are some common scholarship scams to avoid.
Programs which require a scholarship handling fee. There are a few legitimate scholarships which do ask for a small fee of $5.00 or less to cover mailing and administrative costs. However, if a scholarship program asks for more than this, it is probably a scam.
Scholarship programs which claim to do all the work for you. Almost all legitimate scholarship programs will ask you to do some work, usually by filling out forms and writing essays. If a scholarship program claims that you do not have to do anything to win a scholarship, it’s probably a scam.
Programs which claim you can’t get the information they are offering anywhere else. All legitimate scholarships are advertised for free, you should never have to pay someone to find them. If you are looking for information on scholarships, you can look at scholarship websites including the U.S. Department of Education’s website at www.ed.gov, or the FinAid website at www.finaid.org. You can also run a free computerized scholarship search at www.fastweb.com. Your school’s career center will also have access to many scholarship databases and reference materials.
Programs which request your credit card number or bank account number to hold a scholarship for you. Legitimate scholarship programs will not ask for any account number or confidential information to hold a scholarship for you. If a scholarship program is asking for this information, do not give it to them.
Guarantees that you will win a certain number of scholarships. There is no way for a legitimate scholarship program to guarantee that you will win a certain number of scholarships. Most often the companies that make these statements are really offering loan programs and calling them scholarships.
Programs which ask you to schedule an appointment to pick up a free scholarship and financial aid package at a hotel. At these hotel appointments, students and their parents are usually forced to sit through sales presentations aimed at getting people to pay a fee for a scholarship search service. You should never have to pay for a scholarship search.
The following sources can be contacted to research scholarship programs and to report scholarship scams.
National Fraud Information Center
Council of Better Business Bureaus
Federal Trade Commission