4 Scholarship Scams You Should Run From

Avoid College Scholarship Scams — Protecting Your Money“CONGRATULATIONS! You have won a $10,000 scholarship for college. To obtain your award, please forward a $100 processing fee to…”

Usually, most students would not go beyond those first words. Eventually, they come to realize that it was only a scam. Instead of winning, they have lost.

How can you determine which scholarships are legitimate? To avoid being the victim of a scholarship scam, set up guidelines to identify which scholarships might be of concern. Here are some warning signs:

Processing Fees

Scholarships that require a processing fee should raise a red flag. Some scholarships add a disclosure statement that guarantees the winnings and states that students will be eligible for a refund. These are additional scam slogans to ensure that students will be comfortable as consumers. In reality, the money never returns.

Rewards without Entries

For most students, writing another essay after going through the college application process is tedious. When an award is given without the student having to submit an application, it is quite surprising. Beware the awards without entries.

Guaranteed Scholarships

In the world of financial assistance, there is never any guarantee. Guaranteed scholarships never materialize.

Free Seminar

This on-the-spot scam lures students by sending letters that ask them to attend a seminar in which the organization will present attractive materials that guarantee students will qualify for a scholarship. A fee is charged or may be deducted from your bank account, and you receive a package with a few scholarships listed. Often, other sources, such as the school counselor or a credible database, will have information on the scholarships presented.

Now that you know how to spot scams, how can you protect yourself from them? For starters, never pay a fee. A scholarship is a gift from a given group. Why should anyone have to pay to process an application or to receive an award? Also, if it sounds great, beware. Get more information about the organization. Call the Better Business Bureau or visit the website at www.bbb.org. When dealing with scholarship organizations, be savvy and determine whether a group’s name seems to masquerade as a federal organization or a charitable program.

Many scholarship databases provide accurate and reliable sources. Do your research first. Getting the right information can earn you the biggest reward of all.


This article was written by Deborah Hardy

Deborah Hardy has been a guidance counselor for more than ten years and is a previous recipient of the Secondary School Counselor of the Year Award from the American School Counselor Association.

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