Here’s one really easy way to check the scholarship or grant to see if it is legitimate:Google it; use a search engine of your choice, and look up the scholarship name or URL, plus the word scam. You might find out it is listed as a scam; or you might get a lot of results and discussion that question whether a scholarship is a scam or not - so it’s probably best to skip over applying for it and move on to the next scholarship opportunity.
The Federal Trade Commission in the US cautions students to look for these tell-tale lines:
- "The scholarship is guaranteed or your money back."
- "You can't get this information anywhere else."
- "I just need your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship."
- "We'll do all the work."
- "The scholarship will cost some money."
- "You've been selected by a 'national foundation' to receive a scholarship" or "You're a finalist" in a contest you never entered.
Other Tips for Avoiding Scholarship Scams:
- Don't believe a promise of guaranteed scholarships. No one can guarantee that you will win a scholarship or grant.
- You shouldn’t pay money to be matched with scholarships that suit you the best. Anyone can find out information about any scholarship by searching the Internet. Don’t pay anyone to do this for you.
- Beware scholarship services that charge fees or claim that you can't get this information anywhere else. There are many free lists of scholarships available. Check with your school, library and trusted online scholarship sites before you decide to pay someone to do the work you can do yourself.
- Don't pay an advance fee. Don't pay anyone who claims to be "holding" a scholarship for you or informs you the scholarship will cost some money. Free money shouldn't cost a thing. Ignore any news that you're a finalist in any contest that requires you to pay a fee for further consideration, or taxes on the winning scholarship.
- Don’t pay to have someone apply for scholarships for you. This just does not work. In order to be eligible for scholarships, you have to submit your own applications and write your own essays. You can’t get around this, even by paying money. Scholarship committees can easily identify “canned” essays and letters.
- Ignore the myth of unclaimed funds and the companies that advertise huge amounts of unclaimed money.
- Don't be fooled by official-sounding names and logos. Make sure the foundation, organization or program is legitimate. Remember – just Google it!
- If you feel as though the scholarship application and accompanying materials were never proofread, that’s a red flag. Multiple spelling and grammatical errors show a lack of professionalism that is essential to a scholarship foundation’s success.
- If the only address you can find for a scholarship is a P.O. Box address, do not apply! This is definitely a scam as well. Also be wary of residential addresses as the company headquarters. If you can’t find a phone number for the scholarship sponsor, move on to another scholarship opportunity.
- Do not give out your social security number, credit card, bank or checking account numbers to anyone claiming they need it for you to be eligible for access to "exclusive" scholarship information, or to deposit your winnings. Get information in writing first. It may be a set-up for an unauthorized withdrawal.
Nothing is more effective than your own dedicated work at finding and applying for scholarships and grants! Get the information you need to help you in this process.