When it comes to finding ways to finance a college education, students are sometimes desperate and inexperienced in how the process works. That makes them vulnerable to con artists who don’t mind taking advantage of them. Learning how to spot and avoid scholarship scams is extremely important for students as they look at all of their options.
No legitimate scholarship program ever asks students to pay anything, so one way to avoid scholarship scams is by ignoring any offers or programs that require you to pay anything. Keep in mind that the request for money can come in different forms and at different stages of the process.
Some of these scams will require you to pay an application fee while others will charge you “taxes” or a disbursement fee to receive the monies from your scholarship. If you ever receive such an offer, you should never send any money to them even if the scholarship sounds impressive or seems to be coming from a reputable source.
Promises They Can’t Keep
While there are a number of good scholarship search services available, none of these cost anything to use nor do they promise you that you will receive any of the awards you find through their services. If you find a scholarship service that promises to match you with scholarships and guarantees you will receive them, you should definitely be leery. If they ask you to pay for the service, you should walk away even if they offer a refund if you’re not satisfied with the results.
No honest scholarship search program can promise that you’ll receive anything, because they don’t know enough about your qualifications or about how many people will apply to the same programs as you. Here’s a valuable rule to help you avoid scholarship scams: Never believe promises that are too good to be true or that just don’t add up.
Guidance Disguised as Marketing
Because most incoming freshmen have just turned eighteen, they are an easy target for lots of sales people. One of the favorite tactics of some of these folks is to host scholarship or financial aid events that sound as if they are going to help students find ways to finance their education or to teach them more about the financial aid process. In reality, most of these programs that are not sponsored by colleges or public school systems are just used to market other types of financial products to students, including investments, insurance, and more.
At the very least, these programs waste your valuable time. At their worst, they can trick students into spending money on products they don’t need and that won’t help them pay for their education in anyway. To avoid scholarship scams, you should avoid the appeal of these supposedly free seminars or check with your financial aid department about the legitimacy of the seminar sponsor before attending.
If you’re ever in doubt about the legitimacy of a scholarship or any type of financial aid service, you should talk to your financial aid department or a counselor at your high school. They can sometimes help you avoid scholarship scams because they are so experienced in dealing with them and in helping the students they’ve taken advantage of over the years.