So you get an unsolicited scholarship application by email. You appear to have the qualifications, and you have time to apply. But as you are about to dive into the application, something holds you back; something doesn't feel right … How can you tell if a scholarship offer is legitimate?
Beware of scholarship scams
Be alert for services that solicit money in exchange for guaranteed scholarships. Watch out for pitches that boast:
- "You're a finalist!" or "You've won!" a contest or scholarship you never entered. Be wary, especially if they ask you for a credit card or bank account number to hold your "winnings." Don't believe it. You must apply for scholarships first to receive them.
- "First come, first served." While you do need to get your application in before the scholarship deadlines, the "first come, first served" rule does not apply to scholarships.
- "Millions of dollars go unclaimed." Legitimate scholarship awards are predetermined. Sponsors work very hard to find the most qualified applicant.
- "It's guaranteed!" Scholarship searches can guarantee search results. They can't guarantee you the scholarship money.
- "We'll do the work for you ... for a fee." The fee may be nominal and the offer may come from someone who sounds official. So make sure you do your research before paying anyone to do a search for you.
If the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.