Trying to obtain a college scholarship can be a stressful process. You have to research college scholarships, fill out scholarship applications, write essays, and proof, proof, proof. And just to add more stress to your college scholarship endeavors, you have to watch out for scholarship scams. Every day, college bound students and their parents fall prey to scholarship scams because they don't know which companies are legit and which ones are not. Be wary of a company if they offer the following claims:
"You are guaranteed a college scholarship." No scholarship is guaranteed until your application has been reviewed by the organization that offers it. A company that offers this claim has no control over the scholarship judge's decisions.
"We'll do all the work." In order to receive an authentic college scholarship, you must do the work that is involved. You have to write your own essay and submit your own scholarship applications and letters of recommendation. Most likely, you will not receive a scholarship if a "scholarship company" does all the work for you.
"For a small fee, we’ll give you a list of college scholarships." You should never have to pay any amount of money for a scholarship. Scholarship matching services are available for free on the Internet. eCampusTours offers a free scholarship search.
"We'll need a bank account/credit card number to hold this scholarship." Never give out your personal financial information to a company to which you aren't familiar. A valid scholarship provider will never ask for your bank account or credit card number because you do not have to pay anything in order to receive a college scholarship.
"Our database is unique." If any organization claims that you can't get the scholarship information anywhere else, don't be fooled. Scholarship information is usually made available to the public, and some scholarship databases might overlap and have the same scholarship information available.
"Everybody is eligible." Scholarships are usually based on merit and/or need and restrictions usually apply. Scholarship sponsors look for candidates that best match their criteria.
"We have a high success rate." Less than 1% of users of fee-based scholarship matching services actually receive a scholarship. The "high success rate" refers to the percent of students for whom the organization finds college scholarship matches.
"Awards are given on a first come, first served basis. Act now." Even though most college scholarships have deadlines, scholarship sponsors do not give out scholarships on a first come, first served basis.
"You've been selected by a national foundation to receive a college scholarship." Research the company before you send anything to them in order to make sure they are legitimate. Call directory assistance to see if the company has a listing. Find out how the company acquired your mailing address and other information. Be cautious about hidden fees.
If you suspect a college scholarship offer is a scam, you can report it to the National Consumers League's Fraud Center by filling out an online complaint form at www.fraud.org. Be sure to keep all literature regarding the scholarship in case you need to send it to the center. You can also contact your state attorney general's office, the Better Business Bureau, your high school guidance counselor, or the financial aid administrator at your college for more assistance.