Scholarship Scams

photo of a mouse trap with money as baitEvery year, scholarship scams take millions of dollars from unsuspecting students.

During your senior year of high school, offers of money to help you pay for college will pour in. Many –– like ones from colleges, universities and financial agencies –– are legitimate. However, others –– like the ones from companies guaranteeing college scholarships for just $39.99 –– are not. So it's important for you to know what to look for when evaluating the offers presented to you.

Government attorneys investigating fraud in scholarship search services offer these five clues to identify scholarship scams:

  • They ask for money, a credit card number or bank account number.
    Never pay for information about scholarships or to apply for a scholarship. A legitimate organization will not require a fee to apply or ask for this kind of information.
  • They offer a money-back guarantee.
    Most guarantees have restrictions that are impossible to meet.
  • They claim to have access to information that can't be found anywhere else.
    The same scholarships are listed in dozens of free online databases, directories and catalogs.
  • They claim they will do all the work.
    For most scholarships, you will need to fill out and submit the application yourself.
  • They congratulate you on winning a contest you never entered or being selected by a national foundation.

The bottom line is, if you do your own research, use common sense, ask questions and expect good answers, it's easy to not get scammed.

For more information about scholarship scams,
visit the Federal Trade Commission's website at

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