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How To Avoid College Scholarship Scams


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In many ways, this guide could be summarized in two lines:

  • Scholarships which ask you to pay money are likely scams.
  • Scholarship opportunities sent to you unsolicited are likely scams.
No matter how good the stationery is, or how convincing the claims may be, these two indicators are the most reliable for determining the likelihood of a scholarship scam. Some other popular signs of scholarship scams, via the FTC:

"The scholarship is guaranteed or your money back. "

The reality is that there are no guarantees when it comes to scholarships. Scholarships are evaluated on many criteria, and while there are many, no one can guarantee you an award.

"You can't get this information anywhere else. "

In the age of the Internet and search engines, this is simply no longer true. To learn more about finding scholarships with search engines, grab our free 19 page e-Book, Scholarship Search Secrets, completely free at the Student Scholarship Search Website.

"I just need your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship. "

Giving over any significant personal financial information is a clear sign of a scam. This extends to things like social security numbers as well; identity theft scams masquerading as scholarships are becoming more prevalent.

"You've been selected by a ‘national foundation’ to receive a scholarship" or “You're a finalist" in a contest you never entered.

Generally speaking, if you receive notification that you've won anything - the lottery, a scholarship, etc. and you did not enter, it's a scam.

Remember that today, a scholarship scam may not just be a solicitation for money. Information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, and other personal identification information can be used for identity theft as well. The most important thing to remember with any kind of potential scam is to trust your instincts. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. If something feels wrong or suspicious, trust your gut instincts, pass it by, and keep working on completing legitimate scholarship applications.

For more scholarship advice and tips, make sure you subscribe to the Financial Aid Newsletter and tune into the daily free Financial Aid Podcast.

Christopher S. Penn is the producer and creator of the Financial Aid Podcast, a daily free Internet radio show about making college affordable, as well as Chief Technology Officer of the Student Loan Network This organization offers federal student loans and student loan consolidation for college students, both undergraduate and graduate. His work has been featured in several books, newspapers, and conferences.


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