Five Ways to Spot a Scholarship Scam
It isn’t just for alleged Nigerian princes, scholarships and those seeking them can often be subject to scamming. Tons of sites and individuals look for students and families to prey off of and can do so in many different ways. In order to best protect yourself from this type of fraud, have a look at these five common ways to spot a scholarship scam.
- Fees for matching – Often naïve students and their families can be subject to the fee scam. These scammers often phone or email promising to match you with scholarships that fit your needs and can even guarantee that you will win one. All you have to do is pay a sum up front. With many sites offering scholarship matches for free, stay away from anyone who talks about fees for scholarships.
- Scholarships with application fees – You often have to pay a fee when applying for a car or an apartment, so why shouldn’t that hold true for a scholarship? It is because these kinds of scholarships are a scam and illegal. Legitimate scholarships never require an application or any other fee up front or ever. If you have to pay to apply for a scholarship, stay away.
- “Congratulations, you’ve been awarded a BLANK scholarship” – These and similar words are what accompanies this scholarship scam. Phishers, hackers, and more can get your information any number of ways and send you an email telling you that you have won a scholarship. All you have to do is pay an upfront fee for processing and such. Much like the Nigerian lottery scam, stay away from it. Know which scholarships you apply for. They will often send an official letter or even call you to let you know if you’ve won and won’t require any fees for processing.
- Financial Aid services – While these can be useful and are not always a scam, they should be avoided. These services often offer to help you with financial aid forms, scholarship applications, and more for a fee. While the services can be legitimate, they can also be found for free in many other ways. There are tons of sites online that can help you with forms, such as the FAFSA, that can be found with a simple internet search. If you need more help than that, the financial aid offices of your current, future, or prospective school were established for the sole purpose of helping students who are confused by the applications process.
- No guarantees – If a scholarship is advertised as guaranteed, stay away. Even if it is free to apply, they can often use any information you give them in all sorts of ways. Just keep to the old rule of “if it’s too good to be true” alive in your search for legitimate scholarships.