How to Avoid Scholarship Scams
Need money for college? Many students and their families are looking for creative ways to finance a college education.
The Financial Aid Office urges families to be very cautious in paying for scholarship searches. While there are legitimate organizations that do charge a fee, there are also organizations that take advantage of students' and parents' fears about meeting the costs of higher education.
Tips to avoid deceptive offers:
- 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 a postage stamp to get information about scholarships.
- Nobody can guarantee that you'll win a scholarship.
- Legitimate scholarship foundations do not charge application fees.
The Federal Trade Commission cautions students to look for these phrases used by scam artists:
- “The scholarship is guaranteed or your money back.”
- No one can guarantee that they will get you a grant or scholarship. The refund guarantees that are offered usually have so many conditions or strings attached that it is almost impossible for consumers to get their money back.
- “You can’t get this information anywhere else.”
- Scholarship information is widely available in books, from libraries, financial aid offices and the Internet.
- “I just need your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship.”
- This is never a requirement for a legitimate scholarship offer. Don’t give out your financial information in this kind of situation.
- “We’ll do all of the work.”
- Only parents and students can determine and provide the financial information needed to complete the forms.
- “The scholarship will cost some money.”
- Legitimate scholarship offers never require payment of any kind.
- “You’ve been selected by a ‘national foundation’ to receive a scholarship” or “You’re a finalist in a contest (that you never entered).”
- If you have not applied for a scholarship sponsored by the foundation, be skeptical about this claim.
Students and families who think that they may have received information that could be a scam should contact the FTC at 877-382-4357 or visit http://www.ftc.gov/.