Scholarships, which are generally monetary awards distributed to students by schools and businesses, are a great way to pay for education. But not all scholarship offers are legitimate. Here is some advice you can follow to avoid falling victim to a scholarship scam.
- Never Give Financial Account Information
A scammer looking to acquire account information will use whatever tricks they can to get you to give up this information. Be cautious of scholarship applications asking for your account number.
- Don’t Fall for “Guaranteed” Scholarships
Another scholarship scam operates by stating you can get a guaranteed scholarship, but the catch is you must “pay to apply today.” Some “guaranteed scholarships” come with rules that are impossible to meet, therefore making the scholarship unattainable. Avoid applying for these scholarships, especially when they make you pay to apply. Once you submit payment, there is likely no way of getting it back.
- Stay Away from Application Fees
Another scholarship scam asks students to pay a fee to apply. These fees can typically range anywhere from $2 to $3, up to $5,000. Legitimate scholarships will not require an application fee.
- Don’t Pay to Search for Scholarships
If a website asks for money to find scholarships for you, don’t pay! There are hundreds of free websites and programs that can help with the search process. For example, CareerOneStop, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, offers search assistance.
- Don’t Believe the “Unclaimed Scholarship” Myth
Some scammers will claim that millions of dollars in scholarships go unclaimed every year. This statement may be true when considering the number of students that don’t fill out the FAFSA or the number of people not taking advantage of employer benefits. In general, this is a myth that scammers push to get students to apply for bogus scholarships. Scholarships are very competitive and all of them are typically awarded. Don’t let the competitive nature of scholarships stop you from applying for genuine ones.
- Report Scams
By using these tips and familiarizing yourself with some of the lingo scammers use to get you to apply for phony scholarships, you’ll be able to easily spot scholarship scams. If you come across one, inform the Federal Trade Commission. It’s important to report scams so that other people can avoid becoming victims.
Where to Find Money for School
We know that college can be expensive and every little bit of money helps when planning ahead. Applying for every scholarship you find may be tempting, but it’s important to be careful and avoid becoming a victim of a scam. Scammers prey on students who are vulnerable and stressed out about paying for school. Be sure to keep your information safe and look for legitimate scholarships from trustworthy sources.
Many companies, like us, offer scholarships for high school seniors. Each year, we award tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships to members preparing to begin their college education.
For more ideas on keeping your account secure and avoiding other scams, check out our WalletWorks page.