Now that high school seniors have finished most or all of their college applications, some may be turning their attention to finding and applying for scholarships. The largest sums of money are offered by colleges themselves, which is why we at Discovery College Consulting focus on helping students with these scholarships. However, if you’re willing to devote some time and effort, there is also money available in the form of “third-party” or private scholarships.
In searching for such scholarships, it’s important to keep your eyes out for “red flags” that indicate a scam. According to the Wall Street Journal, “The Federal Trade Commission received 725 consumer complaints in 2018 related to scholarships and educational grants.” In 2017, there were 770 complaints, and in 2016, there were 972. While the decrease in complaints is encouraging, 725 is still a large number, and there are probably more scams that go unreported.
So, how do you determine if a scholarship is legitimate? First, you should never have to pay to apply for a scholarship. If there is an application fee, that is a good indication of a scam. Another red flag is a guarantee of receiving money, as is an unsolicited offer via a phone call or email. You should also be wary if you are asked to provide personal and/or financial information, such as your Social Security Number, driver’s license number, bank account number, or credit card number. If you receive a check for a scholarship you didn’t apply for, you should destroy it. If you encounter any of these issues, it is advisable to file a complaint with the FTC.
There are many resources for finding legitimate scholarships. Start by talking to your school counselor, as many high school counseling offices maintain a list of scholarships. Often, this list will include local scholarships for which the competition isn’t as great. Additionally, if your school uses Naviance, it has a scholarship search feature.
- College Board
- Going Merry
- Scholars Snapp
- Scholarship America
- Scholarships A-Z
Good luck with your scholarship search!