Class Of 2028: Applications Up, Acceptance Rates Down

Tips to Identify & Avoid Scholarships Scams

With FAFSA issues causing chaos in college admissions, many applicants may be looking for alternative financial aid options.

To steer clear of scholarship scams, it’s important for students and families to carefully evaluate scholarship opportunities. US News recently outlined expert advice on identifying and avoiding scholarship scams.

BE WEARY OF PERSONAL INFORMATION SCAMS

One tell-tale sign of a scam is if the organization requires bank account information, a Social Security number, or any other sensitive identity or banking details. Denard Jones, lead counselor at Empowerly, a college admissions consulting company, says schools may ask for this information for merit-based awards or financial aid, but rarely will a third-party scholarship require this information until the scholarship has been awarded.

“Read, read, read,” he says. “Read the instructions. Read the details. Read what’s going on, because a lot of times it’s right there in front of us, but we’re so quick to (go to) where we see a box – we just start filling it out.”

PAY ATTENTION TO RED FLAGS

Certain language can also be a red flag. Scholarships labeled as “no essay” or requiring applicants to “enter to win” are typically sweepstakes, designed to accumulate entries with minimal chance of success.

“I always recommend that students pay attention and be observant,” Will Geiger, co-founder and CEO of Scholarships360, a website that offers a free database of thousands of vetted scholarships, says. “If something looks off, double-check the scholarship and provider website. For instance, if you see typos or spelling mistakes, invasive questions or lack of detail around the organization awarding the scholarship you should pause and take some time to examine further.”

ASK FOR HELP

Vetting scholarships takes time and effort. If you can, ask your parents or friends to help you research and evaluate scholarships, so you can focus on your essays and applications.

“The search process is the best place to make the difference, because if they’re helping their students choose the right scholarships from the beginning, then their student’s not going to be burned out wasting their time on all these scams,” Jocelyn Pearson, CEO and founder of The Scholarship System, a company that offers help securing college scholarships, says. “From the beginning, they could be applying to a lot of scholarships where they have actual chances of winning.”

Sources: US News, CNBC

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