Scholarship Warning Signs

Did you know that you can earn a legitimate scholarship for being left-handed, drinking tea, or wearing a duct tape dress to prom? With so many different scholarship options available, it can be difficult to differentiate the funny ones from the scams. Luckily, our friends at are here with some helpful tips.

Spring is one of the busiest times of year for scholarships, especially for high school seniors. Many companies and organizations have programs with upcoming deadlines between now and May, but how do students know if these programs are legitimate? Although the majority of scholarships being offered are on the up and up, there are some that are created solely for the purpose of gathering student information and selling it to others. Before students apply to any scholarship program, they should look for these warning signs that the program may not be what it seems.

1. Limited Contact Information

Legitimate scholarship providers will make it easy for students to contact them. There should be, at minimum, an email and address listed. It’s always a good idea for students to send a test email prior to applying, as well. If the email bounces or the provider does not respond within a few days, students may want to reconsider applying for the award.

2. No Privacy Policy

Students should always check for a privacy policy before applying to a scholarship program. This will spell out exactly how the provider will use any information collected during the application or registration process. If they provider does not include a privacy policy or does not specifically state that information collected will not be sold to third parties, students should be cautious.

3. Vague Details

Any scholarship program that does not specifically list its eligibility criteria or award detail, such as the number of available awards or the prize amount offered, should be a warning sign to students. Legitimate providers will include detailed information on who can apply, how many awards are available, how the scholarship winners are selected, and how the awards are disbursed. If any of these details are vague or missing, students need to ask for clarification. Providers who do not respond or refuse to provide additional information may not be trustworthy.

4. No Past Winners Listed

If a scholarship program has been around for more than a year, it should list past winners. Students should be suspicious of any scholarship provider that does not post past recipients or refuses to provide a list of past winners, as this may be a sign that the program is not disbursing awards as promised or using the program to collect information.

5. Payment Required

Scholarships are free money for college, with the key word being free. There are very few legitimate scholarship programs that require students to pay a fee to participate. In general, if a scholarship provider asks for a credit card or requires students to send in a check, students should not apply.

Another thing students should never do is give out their social security number during the application process. Unless students are applying for a state or government program, or one offered through a college, this information is not necessary for consideration. Above all else, students should remember this old adage, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”™ was created in July 2000, and is based in Jacksonville, Florida. It assists parents and students at no cost as they look for ways to pay for college.™ is a proud member of the Northeast Florida Better Business Bureau, and meets the stringent requirements for approval in the nationwide BBB Online Reliability Program. Since 2003, has placed™ at the top of its “Best of the Web” list, calling™ “the best scholarship search engine we’ve found.”

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