When you are actively searching for money to help pay for college, you can be vulnerable to scams. There are a few red flags you can be aware of as you search the internet for the best scholarship opportunities.
Too Much Information
A scholarship should want to know about you and your qualifications, not your banking information. There should be no reason for a scholarship to ask for bank account numbers, social security numbers, or credit card numbers. After you are awarded a scholarship, either you or your institution should receive a check and there should be no need for excessive banking information. If it is a financial based scholarship, it is possible that they may ask for a W-2 or proof of AGI from a tax document. If this is the case, you can block out any social security numbers before you forward a copy of the document.
According to FinAid, statements that substantial amounts of scholarship money go unclaimed every year are unsubstantiated. Scholarships are competitive and no third party can guarantee that you will be chosen for an award. Any claim that sounds too good to be true probably is.
Third Party Services
There are third party services that provide a list of scholarships that would match a student’s qualifications. These can be helpful, but if they begin to make excessive claims or offer to do too much of the work, don’t get involved. No third party service can fill out applications for you. You must do all the work on your own. No third party service holds sway or influence over the boards and foundations that give scholarships. If a third party claims that applying through them will increase your chances of winning, it is not true.
When You are Unsure
When a scholarship opportunity looks very enticing, but has several of the red flags. Talk to your counselor or the financial aid department at the school you want to attend. They can verify whether or not the scholarship is legitimate. No one will ever try to force you into a scholarship, usually the pool of applicants is large and there is no need for more. If you are being badgered or experiencing a forceful sales pitch, don’t give in. It is always your right to say I would like to talk with my school before giving you any money or information.
Scholarships are very helpful. Do diligent work to find the right ones and they can serve you well. Any hesitation on your part is probably legitimate. Don’t be afraid to do further research to find out whether or not there is a scam involved.
“Warning Signs of a Scholarship Scam” FinAid.org