With the abundance of scholarships advertised, it’s hard to decipher legitimate scholarships from fake ones. Today, students’ in-boxes are littered with scam and junk mail, promising money. As a desperate parent or student, in dire need of aid paying for college, you may look past some warning signs if it means potential assistance. The rising cost of college tuition doesn’t make the situation better. If you don’t have enough money saved up, you’re faced with having to take out student loans, which can take decades to repay. It’s no wonder that so many young, inexperienced people fall for scams claiming they can help. Sadly, not everyone knows what to look for — let alone how to know if a scholarship is legit or not.
In 2019 alone, The Federal Trade Commission reported that they received 725 complaints related to grant and scholarship fraud. However, since everyone doesn’t file a complaint with the FTC, this number is not a true indication of the actual incidents of people who were defrauded. Clearly, there is a substantial issue when it comes to scholarship and grant fraud. This could mean at best, a headache, and at worst, a serious dilemma for the unaware.
Thankfully, there are ways to spot legitimate scholarships from the shams. There are common themes when it comes to scholarship scams that can help you decode them.
Typical scholarship scams.
The first and most obvious being that if you find a scholarship in your spam folder, it is almost always not legit. Do not even bother opening it. Save yourself some time.
The second most common sign is if you see that you have been awarded a scholarship for which you never applied. You should definitely investigate this award further to see if it is legitimate or not.
The last is a major red flag you should steer clear from. If a scholarship asks you to pay a fee upfront, it is definitely not legit. No actual application for a real scholarship ever asks you for money, so always be aware of this.
Keeping away from scams.
Keeping away from scams is easy, you just have to know a few simple rules. Do not ever give out your bank account information. This is usually an indication of a scam. Unauthentic scholarships will generally ask you for a fee soon after asking for this information. Another tip is to not give out your social security number. Someone with this information can steal your identity and wreak havoc on your life. Unless you are absolutely certain that a scholarship is legitimate, refrain from providing any personal information like this.
It is always helpful to go to the college you are attending or applying to and seeing which scholarships they list on their website. These will be legit ones you will not need to worry about. With these tips in mind, it’s a great idea to just search for some background information on whatever you are applying for. The more you know, the less likely you are to be scammed.
Unfortunately, there are many people who will prey on people who do not have all the information they need. You must always stay vigilant when applying for scholarships, so that you do not get caught up in a con. If you simply follow the tips and rules outlined above, you will be safe and on your way to getting a legitimate scholarship.