Avoid Scholarship Scams

When you think about scholarships, scam is the last word that comes to mind. But some people and companies would like to trick you into paying a fee to enter a scholarship contest or steal your financial information via an e-mail request to deposit scholarship money you’ve won but for which you’ve never applied.

Sharpen your scholarship detection skills by understanding how these scams work, and you’ll be better able to spot legitimate scholarships.

“Everything that requires a payment, I throw…away,” says Bob Bardwell, director of guidance and student support services at Monson High School, Monson, Mass. A scholarship that requires a payment isn’t necessarily a scam, but Bardwell believes students shouldn’t have to pay fees.

If you decide to apply for a scholarship that has a fee, or if you haven’t heard of the organization offering it, check out the company carefully. Be wary of grandiose promises, and don’t provide information the outfit could use for identity or cash theft.

“Never give out account information, your Social Security number, or credit card information for any reason,” says Bardwell. “Legitimate scholarship applications do not require this sensitive information.”

If an organization seems legit, but you haven’t heard of it before, proceed with caution and perform extra research. “Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if complaints have been filed against the scholarship organization,” Bardwell says. “Ask for a list of previous recipients of the scholarship or, if that is not available, colleges to which a scholarship was disbursed in the past.”

When you have any doubt about a scholarship’s legitimacy, ask people you trust to help you decipher fact from fiction. With the help of your school counselor, parents, and university financial aid officers, you can apply for the scholarships you’re more likely to receive and avoid potential scams.

Hopewell Federal Credit Union offers a $1,000 scholarship.  Click here for details.

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