How to avoid Scams

Warning Signs

Personal Information

If an application is asking for unnecessary amounts of personal information it could be a scam. Never give out your personal information (Social Security Number, driver’s license number, banking information, etc.).

Application and Other Fees

Never pay to apply for a scholarship. Let me repeat. NEVER PAY TO APPLY or RECEIVE A SCHOLARSHIP!

Guaranteed Winnings

If it’s too good to be true… it probably is.

Unclaimed Aid Myth

The whole idea that millions of dollars of scholarship money go unclaimed each year is not true. Most scholarship opportunities are highly competitive.

Unsolicited opportunities

Most scholarship sponsors will only contact you in response to your inquiry. If you've never heard of the organization before, it's probably a scam.

Failure to substantiate awards

If the organization can't prove that its scholarships are actually awarded and disbursed, be cautious. Many scholarship will announce their winners on their websites.

Typing and spelling errors

If our office gets a scholarship notification with spelling errors we DO NOT add it to our website. We see red flags when individuals are not willing to proofread. Application materials that contain typing and spelling errors or lack an overall professional appearance may be an indication of a scam.

Time pressure

If you must respond quickly and won't hear about the results for several months, it might be a scam. A scholarship scam might say that money is handed out on a "first come, first served" basis and urge you to act quickly.

Notification by phone

If you have won a scholarship, you will receive written notification by mail, not by phone.

Disguised advertising

Don't believe everything you read or hear, especially if you see it online. Unless you personally know the person praising a product or service, don't believe the recommendation.

A newly-formed company

Most philanthropic foundations have been established for many years. If a company was formed recently, ask for references.

Abusive treatment

 If the caller swears at you or becomes abusive when you ask questions, it's probably a scam.

Common Scholarship Scams

Send money up front

Never pay for scholarship information and never pay to apply for a scholarship. The glorious thing about scholarships is that it is FREE money to help you pay for your education.

Scholarship For Profit

This scam looks just like a real scholarship program but requires an application fee. The typical scam receives 5,000 to 10,000 applications and charges fees of $5 to $35. These scams can afford to pay out a $1,000 scholarship or two and still pocket a hefty profit, if they happen to award any scholarships at all. Your odds of winning a scholarship from such scams are less than your chances of striking it rich in the lottery.

The Scholarship Prize

This scam tells you that you have won a scholarship worth thousands of dollars, but requires that you pay a  fee or the taxes before they can release your prize. If someone says you've won a prize and you don't remember entering the contest or submitting an application, be suspicious.

The Guaranteed Scholarship Search Service

Beware of scholarship matching services that guarantee you'll win a scholarship or they'll refund your money. They may simply pocket your money and disappear, or if they do send you a report of matching scholarships, you'll find it extremely difficult to qualify for a refund. 

The Student’s Guide to Scholarship Application Safety

How to Identify Scholarship Scams

Scholarship and Financial Aid Scams

Comparitech's Guide to Spotting Scholarship Scams