Warning Signs Of A Possible
Scholarship Scam

1. Application Fee: Beware of a "scholarship" which requests an application fee. Most legitimate sponsors do not require any application fee.

2. Other Fees: If you must pay money to get information about an award, apply for the award, or receive the award, it might be a scam. Beware of 900 telephone services, which charge you a fee of several dollars a minute for the call.

3. Guaranteed Winnings: No legitimate scholarship sponsor will guarantee that you will win the award. Also be wary of any guarantees you will receive a minimum amount of financial aid - usually such guarantees are counting the federal student aid programs and private student loan programs, for which most people are eligible.

4. Everybody is Eligible: Scholarship sponsors do not hand out awards to students simply for breathing.

5. Unsolicited Opportunities: Most scholarship sponsors will only contact you in response to your inquiry.

6. Typing or Spelling Errors: If the application materials contain typing and spelling errors, or lack of overall professional appearance, it may be a scam.

7. No Telephone Number: Most legitimate scholarship programs include a telephone number for inquiries with their application materials.

8. Mail Drop for a Return Address: If the return address is a mail drop (e.g., a box number) or a residential address, it is possibly a scam. If a legitimate scholarship program uses a mail box, they almost always include their street address (and telephone numbers) in their stationary.

9. Operating Out of Residence: Since when did a major nonprofit corporation operate out of a home or apartment? This isn't a sure sign of a scam, because there are legitimate home- based businesses, but a residential address can tell you something about the size of the organization.

10. Masquerading as a Federal Agency: If the offer comes from an organization with an official sounding name like "National Science Federation", "National Scholarship Foundation", or "National Science Program", check whether there really is a federal agency with that name.

11. Time Pressure: If you must respond quickly and won't hear about the results for several months. It might be a scam. A scholarship scam might say that grants are handed out on a "first- come, first-serve" basis and urge you to act quickly.

12. Unusual Requests for Personal Information: If the application asks you to disclose bank account numbers, credit card numbers, calling card numbers, or a social security numbers, it is probably a scam.

13. Notification by Phone: If you won a scholarship, you will receive written notification by mail, not by phone. If phone call asks you for money, hang up.

14. High Success Rates: Overstated claims of effectiveness are a good tip-off to a scam. For an example, a claim of 96% rate probably is counting the number of clients who are matched to awards, not the number of clients who receive money.

15. Excessive Hype: Scams try to get you so excited that you'll ignore your natural sense of caution. If the advertisement used the phrase "Free money," "Win your fair share," or "Every body is eligible, " or mentions "6.6 billion unused scholarships," be careful.

16. Distinguished Advertisement: Sometimes the person making the recommendations will earn a commission on every client they direct to the company. A "department" number in the address, an offer number, or a telephone "extension" number may be identified which agent should get the commission.

17. A Newly-formed Company: Ask the company how long it has been in business. If it was formed recently, ask for references. Most philanthropic foundations have been established for years.

18. A Florida or California Address: A disproportionate number of scams seem to originate from Florida to California.

As a general rule, if you pay money to get money, it might be a scam.