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Graduation Hat Toss Finding Real Scholarships

Finding Real Scholarships and Avoiding Scams

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Read Time: 3 mins

Each year, students looking to continue their education begin the hunt for scholarships to help ease their financial stress. With so many websites claiming to provide scholarships, how can you spot the fake from the legitimate ones? We’ve compiled a short list of warning signs to help you avoid the fake or scam websites.

Is it listed?
You should use caution throughout your search and verify the scholarship's authenticity before providing any personal information. One sign that the scholarship is real is if it appears on multiple reliable sources. When you are searching for scholarships, be sure to start with trusted resources and sites.  Ask about the scholarship and find out if you know anyone else who has received the scholarship. Some places to check for scholarships include:

  • The financial aid office at the college or career school
  • A counselor from your high school
  • The U.S. Department of Labor’s scholarship search
  • Federal agencies like U.S Department of Education and Federal Student Aid.
  • Your state grant agency
  • Foundations, religious, community groups, or local businesses
  • Organizations or professional associations in your field of interest
  • Ethnicity-based organizations
  • Your employer or your parents’ employers

Is complete contact information available?
All legitimate scholarships will provide you with contact information. You should have a primary contact who you can reach to ask questions about the scholarship program, everything from paperwork, due dates, etc. Be cautious if you are being shuffled around from representative to representative – all providing little to no information.

Are there eligibility requirements?
Typically, most scholarships will have eligibility requirements. Most will have a specific GPA required to apply, not all requirements will be limited to an academic sense, but there should be requirements listed.  Many look for volunteer and community involvement. 

Are you guaranteed to win?
The process for most institutions is designed to be as transparent as possible. The screening process is used to help narrow down the candidates and ensure that the most qualified candidate will receive the scholarship. If you see one that offers a guarantee, steer clear. It’s most likely a scam.

Are you required to attend an event?
While searching for scholarships, you may come across some that offer more information if you attend a seminar, webinar, or even an interview. Most authentic scholarships will not require this, and all information is provided on the institution’s website. If you are asked to attend an event to better your chances, be cautious and verify the validity of the scholarship by contacting the institution or visiting their website for more information.

Do they demand cash upfront?
Fake scholarships will demand money and payments to process the application. They may also ask for an academic donation to help improve your chances of being selected. For the most part, there are no fees or donations required to apply for a scholarship. Avoid making any payments until you can confirm that it is a genuine opportunity and not a scam.

Are your questions answered?
During the application process if you have a question about the program or your eligibility, ask the organization. Do they answer clearly and concisely? If you are more confused after they answer ask again. If you still are unclear or if the information your receive changes this could be a warning sign – you may want to think twice about submitting an application with them. Make sure the answer you get is to your satisfaction.

If you find a scholarship full of demands, requests, and unanswered questions, be wary. If you find yourself questioning the legitimacy at any time throughout the process, reach out to the institution and ask to verify the scholarship. These are just some ways to help you find the real scholarships and avoid the scams.