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Beware of scholarship scams

Tuesday, April 03, 2012
Scholarship programs are designed to make paying for college easier for students. Unfortunately, there are those who look to gain from the financial needs of those hoping to fulfill their dreams of a college education. Consequently, as you look for ways to make college more affordable, you will want to be on the lookout for scholarship scams.

Generally, if a scholarship sounds too good to be true, it probably is. However, this does not stop students from buying into these scams and losing more than $100 million each year, according to, a financial aid resource Web site.

Oftentimes, fake scholarship programs appear to be offered by a government agency or respected foundation. However, upon closer inspection you are sure to identify a few telltale signs that you are dealing with a scam.

The Federal Trade Commission reports that any scholarship that offers to do all the work, features exclusive information that cannot be found anywhere else or claims to guarantee an award is most likely a scam. Furthermore, if you have to pay a fee, provide credit card information or access to your bank account, you definitely are not dealing with a legitimate scholarship.

Always bear in mind that  scholarships are meant to provide financial assistance. As a result, legitimate scholarship programs will never charge a fee.

While there are various types of scholarships available to college students, there is no guarantee that you will receive an award simply because you applied for one. Scholarships generally reward recipients for academic achievement, athletic ability, artistic talent, community service and other accomplishments. Money is never awarded in return for credit card information.

Similarly, most legitimate scholarships will ask for a student’s grades, or an essay describing a student’s interests and goals for the future. Any program that simply asks for your social security number should raise a red flag. The same concern should be directed toward any opportunity that asks for bank account or credit card number to complete the scholarship process.

If you think you have a scholarship scam on your hands, but are not 100 percent sure, look for the program’s contact information. If there is no phone number, or verifiable address, then you know it is time to move on.

To report suspected fraud, contact the Federal Trade Commission, 1-877-382-4357 or visit - helping you find colleges and universities that offer the accredited programs that most interest you.

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