How to Avoid Scholarship and Financial Aid Scams

If you're college-bound, you've probably got a lot on your mind! From classes to campus to tuition, this exciting time can feel overwhelming at times. And the top concern of upcoming freshman? Money. If you're searching for college funding, then you've probably perused the financial aid resources at your school. While there are a ton of terrific options for savvy students, it's important to keep an eye out for scholarship and financial aid scams. In this guide, we'll explain some of the most common scams around today.

The Language of the Scammer

Thief robbing money

As you've learned in English, a simple sentence can reveal a great deal about the author's intent. Use those analytical skills while scanning through your potential scholarships. If you see any of these phrases, be cautious!

  • A "money back guarantee" is a huge red flag. If the company asks for an advanced fee or your bank account information, stay away.
  • Have you been selected as a "finalist" for a "national foundation" that doesn't ring a bell? This is a common scam that will never pay.
  • If the company promises to "do all the work for you" for a fee, don't trust them. There's no guarantee you'll ever get your financial aid.

Financial Aid Seminars

You may have seen advertisements for financial aid seminars to help students get an extra edge when applying for financial aid. While some seminars may be legitimate, others are not. How can you tell the difference? Do a little research. Talk to your guidance counselor or financial aid advisor to see if the organization is legitimate. Your school has your best interest in mind, so they won't lead you astray!

Additionally, watch out for any seminar that feels more like a sales pitch than an information session. Don't bother spending the money on a hefty entrance fee. You can find tons of solid advice for free! Also, be wary of organizations that give vague or evasive responses to your questions. Reputable companies know that students have a lot of questions, and they'll be more than happy to answer each one!

Better Opportunities

Though the many scholarship and financial aid scams may leave you feeling stressed, there's no need to panic! You can find tons of quality information from your school and even online. Check out some of the best resources for students:

  • The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the only official application to determine your eligibility for everything from scholarships, work-study, grants, and loans.
  • StudentAid.gov is a terrific free resource from the U.S. Department of Education. This site helps students prepare for college with tons of information about types of aid, loan repayment, and even advice for filling out your FAFSA!
  • Are you a parent of a student? Check out collegeparents.org for handy tips to help your teen plan for the future!

Finally, don't forget about local resources for options like personal loans.

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