Paying For School

Six signs of a scholarship scam

Learn how to identify and protect yourself from scholarship scams.

What are the telltale signs a scholarship offer is a scam?

  1. "The scholarship is guaranteed or your money back."

    No one can guarantee you will receive scholarship money. Always look for terms and conditions.

    Numerous organizations use the word "receive" ambiguously. You may receive information about scholarships -not the scholarships themselves.

  1. "We will need your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship."

    Never give out an account number without getting all the information in writing.
  2. "You cannot get this information anywhere else."

     There are several free search services on the Internet that provide a list of valid scholarships. You will need to enter information about yourself.  Once you have done this, you will instantly see a list of valid scholarships.
  3. "This scholarship will cost some money."
    Legitimate scholarships include free applications. They are also free to receive.

Scams typically charge for the application. They also use deceptive language such as "reserve your scholarship with your credit card number." Legitimate scholarships never charge money.


  1. "We will do all the work for you."

    There are thousands of legitimate scholarship opportunities. Typically, these award donors require substantial materials from you. These materials include essays, letters of recommendation and transcripts. You cannot hire a company to do the work for you.
  2. "You have been selected by a national foundation" to receive a scholarship or "you are a finalist" in a contest you have never entered. 

    Call directory assistance to see if the company has a listing. Find out how the company acquired your information. Then be on guard for hidden fees.


Who can I contact if I suspect a scholarship offer is a scam?