7 red flags when scholarship searching

Search for scholarships, but use these tips so you don’t get scammed!

7 red flags when scholarship searching

Are you motivated to search for scholarships? That’s a good thing. But before you dive into the scholarship search process, be sure you are aware of scholarship scams and how to avoid them. 


What’s a scam?

When you think about scholarship scams, two types should come to mind:

  1. Scholarship programs that are fraudulent, meaning there are no scholarship awards being given out, and students don’t actually receive any funds.

  2. Less-than-reputable scholarship search services that take advantage of students while they are searching for scholarships.

Avoid applying for scholarship programs that are scams by paying attention to these red flags.

Red flag: Application fees

Though there are a few legitimate scholarship programs that do require students to submit a small processing or application fee, most require no payment to apply.

Red flag: Hard-to-reach scholarship provider

If you call a scholarship provider and find the phone is disconnected, or if your e-mail bounces back, there is a good chance that no one is handling scholarship requests.  

Red flag: No recent winners

If you can’t find anything about prior winners, contact the scholarship provider to try to find some proof that previous scholarships were awarded. Well-managed scholarship programs should provide answers to your questions about the award winners and selection process.

Red flag: Web site woes

Another possible warning sign of a questionable scholarship program is the quality (or lack thereof) of the scholarship provider’s Web site. Does the site work? Not all scholarship providers have enough time to make sure the Web site is pristine, but there should at least be current details.

Red flag: “Secret” scholarships

Services that promise to find scholarships for you that you can’t find anywhere else are usually not legitimate. Scholarship search services have access to the same information you have access to.

Red flag: Guaranteed scholarships

If any service insists that it can guarantee you a scholarship, run the other way. No one can secure a scholarship for you but you.

Red flag: Web sites that...

  • Inundate you with pop-ups.

  • Are overly “commercial.” You should not be interrupted time after time with advertisements for non-related items, such as cell phones, car insurance, etc.

  • Compromise your privacy. Look for a service that has a clearly stated and easy-to-understand privacy policy.

Although there are many questionable scholarship programs and scholarship search services out there, there are also trustworthy and reputable ones as well.

A legitimate scholarship search service should save you time by providing you customized lists of scholarships that are accurate and continually updated.

For more information about scholarship scams and scholarship searches, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Web site at ftc.gov/ftc/consumer.htm.

This article provided by Scholarship Experts, ScholarshipExperts.com, named by Forbes.com as the “Best of the Web” scholarship search site.


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