Unfortunately, scholarships have become so desired that there are scams out there. It’s inevitable to come across a scam, so here are warning signs that a scholarship may be a hoax. Check this post for more common misconceptions about scholarships.
First and foremost, never give cash up front. This is one of the most used scams. They want money to “process” the application. Scholarships don’t work that way. When a scholarship is legitimate, you won’t need to spend money to get money. If an offer comes across saying that they need a hefty processing or application fee, this is most likely a scam. Very, very rarely are there ever fees attached to getting a scholarship. Scholarships are meant to be charitable money to put towards your tuition and they shouldn’t ask to take away more money from you. In addition, don’t immediately dismiss a scholarship just because it seems fake. There are tons of weird scholarships that are actually real!
A second popular scam is having a webpage say false claims. One example is, “You will get this scholarship or your money back.” Usually they want a fee and will claim that you’ll get it back, but it’s a scam. You won’t see the money again. Another claim is that “You can’t get this scholarship anywhere else.” If it’s not on popular, free college scholarship sites, it’s probably not real. Be wary about applying. Here is a link to my recommended scholarship search site. If a scholarship is real, usually you can find it in their database. Granted, this is not always the case, but 99 times out of 100, you can.
This scam is an odd concept, but believable to the untrained eye. Many scams will pop up with a message such as, “Congrats! You won a 20,000 dollar scholarship to college!” This sounds like something to be excited about, but it’s not. If you didn’t submit an application for a scholarship you couldn’t have won one. You don’t win scholarships by going to websites, you need to enter your information and apply first. If it’s saying that you’ve won before you even apply, it’s a scam. Nothing comes without effort. Getting $20,000 for simply clicking an ad constitutes as doing nothing.
Once you get a scholarship, you are often eager to receive the funds. Some scams depend on this. If you submit a scholarship and they reply that they need your financial information, it’s not a real scholarship. Follow the general rule of thumb and note that a scholarship won’t need your credit card or bank account number. They can write a check to you or your school. Do not give out your financial information in any circumstances. It may even be presented in an official, believable way, but it is still a scam. This is putting your monetary safety at risk as it can easily wipe out your bank account.
The last scam is when scholarships will claim that you “pre-qualify”. Scholarships are not like credit cards – you should not pre-qualify. Legitimate scholarships have so many people applying that they aren’t going to extend offers for more people to apply. If the scholarship is desired, they expect you to do your research. If a scholarship reaches out to you by saying that you qualify for their scholarship based on income, merit, race, etc., it is a scam.
To find out that what was a potential scholarship is a scam can be disappointing, but there are thousands of real scholarships out there. Being sure to apply to the right ones and not the scams will save you money and ensure your safety. Try scholarship searching sites if you’re stuck. Doing this, make sure the site is reputable and realistic. There are scholarships for you out there, but they’re not as easy to get as 1, 2, 3.