How to Avoid College Scholarship Scams

Keystone Financial Group |

As the college years approach and your student begins applying to colleges, you may start receiving a lot of offers through the mail (or even email or text message) offering to find you free money for college.

While they may sound tempting, some of these offers might not be legitimate, so how do you distinguish a genuine offer from a scholarship scam?

Here are a few ways to identify potential scholarship scams when applying for scholarships:

  1. Application Fees: Stay clear of any scholarships that require you to pay a “small processing fee,” even if it’s just a few dollars. The provider may claim it’s to weed out “non-serious applicants,” but don’t be fooled. Legitimate scholarships want to give you money, not take it away.
  2. No Phone Number: Be extremely wary of any scholarship opportunities that don’t include a phone number. A lot of scholarship scams don’t give out phone numbers because they’re too easy to trace.
  3. Open to Everyone: The majority of private scholarship providers choose to award scholarships to students who fit a certain set of criteria. If you come across a scholarship that’s open to everyone, do some extra research on the scholarship provider before you apply. These aren't always scams, but it doesn't hurt to be careful.
  4. No Proof of Past Winners: Try Google searching the scholarship and look for evidence of past winners. Most scholarship providers like to brag about the money they’ve given out, so if you can’t find any history, the scholarship could be a scam. This isn’t always the case, though; new scholarships, of course, don’t have past winners.
  5. Requests for Personal Financial Information: It’s completely unnecessary for a legitimate scholarship provider to ask you to provide a credit card, bank account, or Social Security number. If you get a phone call from someone claiming that they need this information to process an application, disconnect the call immediately.
  6. Winning a Scholarship That You Didn’t Apply For: If you get a call (or email) from a scholarship provider proclaiming that you’ve just won a scholarship, but you have no idea who they are and have never submitted an application for that particular scholarship, it’s most likely not legitimate. Don’t give them any information; just hang up / delete the message.

Keep these tips in mind to protect yourself and your student from common scholarship scams!

Want to learn about legitimate ways to get more money for college? Contact us today for a free college planning strategy session. We will discuss your options for paying for college and share ideas for maximizing financial aid.