Scholarship Scams

Need a scholarship for college? The advertisement promises help, but you may learn the hard way that promises to get your a scholarship are false.

  • Know who you’re dealing with. It may be a search company that is offering to help locate scholarships for which you may be eligible, rather than a foundation that actually awards scholarships. Most foundations don’t charge a fee to apply for a scholarship; if they do, it is very small. Scholarship search companies always charge for their services.
  • Beware of search services that guarantee you’ll receive scholarship money. No search service can control the decisions of scholarship sponsors.
  • Get the details in writing. A search service should be willing to give you a written explanation of exactly how it works.
  • Make sure you understand the refund policy. The company should explain upfront whether you can get your money back if you don’t receive a scholarship and what you have to do to qualify for a refund. Some fraudulent search services set difficult requirements, such as obtaining letters of rejection from each scholarship listing, to make it virtually impossible to get a refund.
  • Do your own scholarship search. A search service may provide information that is outdated or doesn’t apply to you. You may be better off finding scholarships yourself. Ask your high school guidance counselor and college financial aid offices for help. Another good source of information is College Parents of America.