How to Avoid Scholarship Scams
Resources to help you from falling prey to scholarship scams.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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