Where it Begins
When you type in “scholarships” into Google search, you’ll likely end up with endless pages of search results. From there, you navigate to a scholarship site with hundreds and hundreds of listed scholarships with little to no information, so you click a link in hopes of learning more about the scholarship only to find yourself being redirected to another site and then another site and so on…until you’ve come full circle onto a site that has no relevance to the scholarship you were even looking into.
What is a Scholarship Scam?
The fact of the matter is, searching for scholarships is not an easy task when there are thousands of them out there and you’re left to figure out on your own which ones are actually legitimate. While a great majority of scholarships and scholarship providers have true intentions, not all of them do. You will come across numerous scholarships that are falsely advertised or listed with bad intentions for the purpose of self gain — we call these scholarship scams.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are more than 175,000 cases reported of scholarship scams each year, costing students and parents over $22 million each year. If this number doesn’t alarm you, keep in mind that this is just a low estimate considering most scholarship scams go unreported!
How to Avoid Them
So the question is, how do you avoid becoming a victim of a scholarship scam?
While there isn’t a concrete way to guarantee this, here are some tips to keep an eye out for, which will help reduce your chances of getting scammed.
Do Your Research
We have to admit, while some scholarship scams look extremely sketchy right off the bat, there are some that have masked themselves to look rather enticing and tempting. First and foremost, do your research! Scope out their website and thoroughly look through to see who are the people running the scholarship. While it seems like an extra step to an already stressful process, it could save you time and money.
The key to avoiding a scholarship scam is to understand the true motives of the people behind these scams. You’ll find that some of them operate financial aid rip-offs, targeting students knowing that paying for college is something that is causing them stress and makes them nervous.
Too Good to Be True
You might come across some advertisements or websites promising to help you find and win “unclaimed” scholarships, which from the surface seems great. But oftentimes, these services will require you to pay hundreds of dollars leaving you with an end result of being hundreds of dollars poorer. The truth is, you shouldn’t even consider any site or service asking you to pay more than $50 because it’s likely a scam.
Most scholarship scammers also know that most people don’t have extensive knowledge or experience when it comes to scholarships, making people like you an easy target to fall into their traps. Knowing this, they will convince you to believe there are such things like unclaimed scholarships and money waiting for you.
Reviews, Reviews, Reviews!
To avoid becoming a victim to these, be sure to check for reviews. Any site or service that is claiming something that seems too good to be true should have reviews or some sort of credibility when you search them. If you come across a company, site or service where you can’t find anything about them online, take a pass on it.
These scammers will take advantage of your fears by offering you an easy solution to your problems at a high cost, which seems small compared to all their promised benefits. So as you continue your search for scholarships, be mindful that you are vulnerable to these kinds of inducements and stay alert.
While this won’t make you 100% scam proof, it’s one step closer to avoiding them!