How to Avoid Scholarship Scams
It is critical for you to be able to spot a legitimate scholarship opportunity from a scam. After years of research, our education experts have assembled a simple list of tell-tale signs for you to recognize during your college scholarship search. The simple tips below can help you avoid disaster and make the most of your time.
Resources to Help you From Falling Prey to a Scam
Finding the best place to start your college scholarship search can be an agonizing task. Sometimes a scholarship looks legitimate or too good to be true or a bit sketchy. What if the email address or phone number yields no response? The key: keep your wits about you and do your due diligence.
With the various scholarship websites and sheer number of scholarships on the internet, what is the best way to stay away from con artists? Below, we have detailed out things to look for and things to avoid to help you best navigate the scholarship landscape.
Spotting a Scholarship Scam
According to The Federal Trade Commission, they receive complaints about fake scholarship sites and have suggestions on key phrases to avoid that include:
- You are a finalist in our scholarship
- You have been selected by our foundation to receive
- The college scholarship will cost you X upfront to apply
- We will complete the application on your behalf
- We will take care of all the paperwork
- Please provide your credit card or bank account information
- College scholarship money guaranteed
- Money back guarantee for your scholarship application
These are a few of the most common phrases that scammers are using to snare unsuspecting college applicants. There are hundreds of iterations on these phrases so be very wary when it comes to applying for a college scholarship that provides any sort of guarantee, asks for money, or insists they will apply for you.
Safeguarding Against a Scholarship Scam
The best way to safeguard yourself against a scholarship scam is to remain vigilant. During the course of a valid college scholarship, you will be asked to provide a variety of information about yourself including: standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, transcripts, interviewing acumen, and video documentation of you and/or your talents.
Keys to Avoiding Scam Artists
- Never provide credit card information
- Do not provide user name or password credentials to a third party
- Never provide your bank account information
- Ask for written documentation of any online application
- Do not be rushed by a first-come, first-served tactic. Follow the prescribed deadlines but awards are provided to the most qualified candidate, not the first.
Important Scholarship Take-Aways
Retain any and all documentation regarding your college scholarships. Regardless of whether you were awarded the scholarship or not, this provides a paper trail for future use. Should you need to report a scholarship scam, you can quickly do so given the paperwork in your file.
Report an illegitimate scholarship to the Federal Trade Commission, National Consumer Leagues Fraud Center, or Better Business Bureau. Make notations about any conversation you have with a scholarship provider including their name, contact information, and employer. Retaining this information will help you follow-up with them if the scholarship is legitimate or file a complaint if they are not above board.
At the end of the day, trust your instincts and request help when needed. Being awarded a college scholarship may be challenging but a single application is not worth being snared by shady businesses.
Top College Scholarship Resources
- Scholarship Basics
- Finding College Scholarships
- Avoiding Scholarship Scams
- Debunking Scholarship Myths
- Scholarship Tips
- Inside Scholarship Essays
- Scholarship Guide
- Graduating Debt Free from College
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