How to Avoid Scholarship Scams
As you find and apply for scholarships and learn more about financial aid, you may come across some unsavory websites and scholarships that are scams. These “too good to be true” scholarship opportunities are designed to cheat you out of money and time. However, there are some telltale signs that can help you avoid these scholarship scams.
Scholarship scams may look “official” and attempt to imitate the government or legitimate organizations. Other scholarship scams may offer to help students get money through the FAFSA or other legit financial aid applications.
Below, we have highlighted a few of the big warning flags that you should be looking out for. These things will help you tell whether a scholarship is legit or not!
If a scholarship application requires you to send in an application fee, this is a major red flag. Legitimate scholarships will never ask you to send in any money! Scholarships that require an application fee will rake in tons of money and then only give a small percentage back in the form of a “scholarship.”
Paying for “Special” Access
If you come across a scholarship website that claims that they have “special” or “preferred” access, this should be a warning sign. Individuals claiming to have special access to scholarships are very likely misleading you.
Applications that ask you for personal financial information
Similar to application fees, you should be wary of any application that asks you for any personal financial information. Any credible scholarship is not going to ask for banking or credit card information.
What should you do if you come across a scholarship scam?
According to the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC), students who come across a possible scholarship scam should report them to the FTC or to their state Attorney General’s office.
Scholarship scams are real things that you may encounter when searching for scholarships. It is wise to be aware of the common tactics that these scammers use. In general, if something doesn’t feel right about a scholarship or if it seems “too good to be true,” you should do some trust your gut and do some further research.