choosing a college

"Scholarship Scams And How To Avoid Them"

While the great majority of scholarship providers and scholarship services have philanthropic intentions, not all do. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there were over 175,000 cases reported of scholarship scams, costing consumers $22 million in 1999.

What makes these scams difficult to avoid is that they play to your worst fear: not having enough money to pay for tuition. Even people who laugh at the thought of buying something on an infomercial don’t think twice about handing over money to a company that promises an easy solution to financial aid.

Here are some examples of “tempting” offers that you should avoid. Remember while the words may change, the message is still the same:

" Pay us and you won’t have to worry about how to pay for tuition."

“Pay us $$$ and we will create a personalized financial aid plan for you. We have a library of hundreds of resources that we will use to create an individualized financial aid plan for you.” What they don’t tell you is that the resources they use can easily be found for free on the Internet or in your library. Save yourself hundreds of dollars and find the scholarships yourself. Plus, you’ll do a much more thorough job and actually be able to find scholarships that you can win.

“Pay us $$$ and we will research and identify the 20 scholarships that fit you best. Why spend weeks researching scholarships when our specialized researchers can do it for you? We have scholarship sources that no one else does. Plus, you are guaranteed to win at least one.” You would receive a list of 20 scholarships you could have found on your own for free. Plus, any scholarship that is a “guaranteed” win is a scam, as you’ll see later.

“You’re a finalist in our scholarship. Pay us $$$ for your registration fee. You’re guaranteed to win!” The truth is that you are not guaranteed to win, or if you did win, the prize would be less than the registration fee. Real scholarships never require any fee from applicants.

“You’ve won our scholarship, guaranteed! All we need is your credit card number to verify your eligibility.” Instead of winning a “guaranteed” scholarship, you would get some surprise charges on your credit card.

“Come to our FREE and informative financial aid seminar, where you’ll learn our secret strategies for scholarships found no where else in the world.” Seminars like these may actually be sales pitches for any combination of the above. Not all seminars are scams or rip-offs so you’ll have to use your own judgment. However, one giveaway is if the seminar sounds like a sale pitch or contains promises that sound too good to be true. If you feel like the marketing copy was written by the same people who produce those late night infomercials, then you are probably looking at a seminar where you will be asked to part with your money for what may be totally worthless information.

In general, the major telltale sign that you are about to be taken by a dubious offer is if you are asked to pay any significant amount of money. Particularly if you are applying to a scholarship, never part with your money. Scholarships are meant to pay you money not the other way around.

The old adage of consumer protection applies to scholarships: If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Thank you for visiting,

Al Brouillard

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