Student Resources

How to Avoid Scholarship Scams

Searching for Scholarships

When you type “scholarships” into Google search, you’ll likely find endless pages of search results. From there, you navigate to a scholarship site with hundreds and hundreds of listed scholarships with little to no information. So, you click a link in hopes of learning more about how to apply for the scholarship only to find yourself being redirected to another site and then another site and so on…until you’ve come full circle onto a site that has no relevance to the scholarship you were even researching.

What are Scholarship Scams?

Searching for scholarships is not an easy task as there are thousands available. And, it’s up to you to figure out which ones are actually legit scholarships. So with every scholarship, you’ll need to ask yourself: how do I know if a scholarship is legitimate?

While many scholarships and scholarship providers have honorable intentions, not all of them do. You will come across numerous scholarships that are falsely advertised or listed with bad intentions for the purpose of self-gain — we call these scholarship scams.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are more than 175,000 cases of scholarship fraud reported each year, costing students and parents over $22 million. If this number doesn’t alarm you, keep in mind that this is just a low estimate considering most student scams go unreported!

How to Spot Scholarship Scams & Avoid Them

You probably want to know how to know if a scholarship is fake and what you can do to avoid becoming a victim of a scholarship scam.

While there isn’t a concrete way to guarantee this, here are some tips to avoid scholarship scams. Put these to work to reduce your chances of getting scammed.

Do Your Research

We have to admit, while some fake scholarships look extremely sketchy right off the bat, some have masked themselves to look rather enticing. First and foremost, do your research and look for signs that scholarships are scams! Go online and look for fake scholarship examples. You’ll find hundreds of ways scammers have positioned them, so it’s important to have an idea of what they look and sound like.

Next, scope out their website and thoroughly look through it to see the people running the scholarship. While it seems like an extra step to an already stressful process, it could save you time and money.

The key to avoiding a scholarship scam is to understand the true motives of the people behind these scams. You’ll find that some of them operate financial aid rip-offs, under the guise of national education relief funds or a similar ploy, targeting students knowing that paying for college is something that is causing them stress and makes them nervous.

Too Good to Be True

You might come across some advertisements or websites promising to help you find and win “unclaimed” scholarships, which on the surface seem great. But oftentimes, these services will require you to pay hundreds of dollars, leaving you without a scholarship and hundreds of dollars poorer. The truth is, you shouldn’t even consider any site or service asking you to pay an application fee of more than $50 because it’s probably running a scholarship scam.

You’ll also want to keep an eye out for any site that requests unusual information outside the standard contact info. Remember, it’s up to you to safeguard your credit card and bank details.

Most scholarship scammers also know that most people don’t have extensive knowledge, resources, or experience regarding scholarships, making people like you an easy target to fall into their traps. Knowing this, they will convince you to believe there are such things as unclaimed scholarships and money waiting for you.

Reviews, Reviews, Reviews!

To avoid becoming a victim of these scholarship scams, be sure to check for reviews. Any site or service claiming something that seems too good to be true should have reviews or some sort of credibility when you research them. If you come across a company, school, site, or service where you can’t find anything about them online, take a pass on the scholarship opportunity.

These scammers will take advantage of your fears by offering you an easy solution to your problems at a high cost, which seems small compared to all their promised benefits. So, as you continue your search for scholarships, be mindful that you are vulnerable to these kinds of inducements, and stay alert.

While this won’t make you 100% scam proof, it’s one step closer to avoiding them!