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Higher education can often be very expensive. Fortunately for some brilliant students, they are able to avail scholarships which subsidizes the tuition fees of their advanced education. There is a plethora of scholarships that are available that provides much needed financial assistance to students and help them cover their tuition fees, while there are other scholarships that offers financial assistance to students for their accommodation and funds for school supplies.

Unfortunately, there are several scams that try to take advantage of innocent students. Dishonest people dupe students applying for scholarship and try to pilfer money, personal information, their personal banking information and details etc. This article will provide you an insight and guide you on how to spot scholarship scams, in addition to telling you what to do if you have unfortunately been at the receiving end of a scam.

Types of scholarship scams

  1.  Phishing schemes

A phishing scheme scam usually starts with the scammer sending emails to a large number of students requesting extremely personal information that includes divulging one’s name, the student’s address, Social Security number, mobile number or banking information and promising to send the student further information regarding a specific scholarship. Along with the fake email, a fake application form is attached instructing students to complete it and send back. It is meant to pilfer your information and instead of receiving information about a scholarship, you are just divulging important personal information to a scammer which could be used against you in innumerable types of fraud including identity theft.

  1. Advance-fee scams

Scams pertaining to this nature also often takes place through emails. In these kinds of scams, scammers ask students for a certain amount money for divulging extra information about a scholarship or ask money from students during the process of submitting their scholarship application. If you get this kind of emails, be wary because information about scholarships are openly available and for free.

  1. Sales pitch schemes

These kinds of schemes are initiated in fake scholarship seminars. While some scholarship seminars really do provide information on financial aid and scholarships, there are high chances that the organizers of some scholarship seminars take some type of fee. Some organizations profess to help students who are aspiring for a scholarship, but they actually use this facade to sell their various products and services. Sales pitch schemes are sometimes employed by some companies and organizations selling insurance or investment products.

  1. Overpayment scams

Overpayment scams can be very difficult to spot and it is used for a whole multitude of services and products, including scholarships. Below is an instance:

The student receives an email stating that the student has been chosen for a scholarship. The student receives a cheque in the email either with the letter or after some time. Delighted, the student deposits the cheque in their bank account. Shortly after the cheque arrives, the student receives another letter on the mail, stating that they have over paid the student. The student satisfied with receiving certain amount of money, sends the sum of money to the impostor, the sum of money that was “overpaid” to the student. The cheque that the student had received never clears and the student is cheated.

Ways to identify scholarship scams and avoid them

Scammers are dishonest people out to cheat innocent students. They are devious and identifying scholarship scams can prove to be a difficult task, particularly when the student is so hopeful that they will get a scholarship which will help them to pay for their education.

Below are some guidelines on the ways to spot these scams and not fall prey to these types of deceitful schemes:

  1. Question and ask yourself if the claims made are extremely good, so good that is seems a little improbable.
  2. Be mindful of an email if there is a note or tone of urgency regarding a scholarship
  3. Schemes promising limited information ought to immediately be looked upon with caution.
  4. Always question schemes that offers to promise a refund of the money paid if not satisfied.
  5. Do not pay any heed to statements pertaining to unclaimed funds
  6. Pay close attention and double check claims that a scholarship provider makes of being affiliated with esteemed and reliable schools and colleges.
  7. Learn to identify phishing websites and emails.


  1. Question and ask yourself if is too good to be true:

Question yourself how probable it is that the information being provided is legitimate. If the claims made are extremely good, so good that is seems a little improbable, then it is probably improbable and fake.

  1. Be mindful of an email if there is a note or tone of urgency regarding a scholarship:

Even though it is a fact that there are deadlines for some scholarships, you most likely would not be telephoned a few hours or a couple of days before. It is most unlikely that an organization or university issuing a genuine scholarship would contact you and ask a student or a scholarship student to apply for the scholarship. Dishonest people employ this method to create a tone of urgency in order to cheat students and force them to conform to what they are asking in the façade of being a genuine scholarship provider.

  1. Schemes promising limited information ought to immediately be looked upon with caution.

If a company is promising exclusive and limited information pertaining to a scholarship, it should immediately be looked upon with caution because information about scholarships are easily available on the internet and is easily accessible to everybody so that all eligible candidates are granted equal opportunity.

  1. Always question schemes that offers to promise a refund of the money paid if not satisfied.

There are several impostors that use these types of schemes to fool students. They promise gullible scholarship applicants a complete refund of their money if the student is not satisfied. By this false promise, they are able to extract money from students persuading gullible students to pay a certain amount of fee to them. Then there are scams that charge a fee to apply. You should avoid companies that asks for processing costs, redemption fees etc. According to the Federal Trade Commission genuine organizations refrains from guaranteeing grants and promising scholarships.

Some scholarship providers who are impostors out to cheat students also profess to offer a loan that has a low interest, if a student applying for an educational loan or a scholarship applicant pay a fee which is called “redemption” fee in advance. You should steer clear from these types of claims. You should also be wary of claims that states everybody is eligible for a scholarship. In order to get a scholarship, a student or a scholarship applicant will have to meet the criterion set for a scholarship.

  1. Do not pay any heed to statements pertaining to unclaimed funds

Impostors often circulate a rumour that money amounting to millions that are devoted to scholarships are not claimed by students each year. This is completely wrong and scammers spread false information in order to fool gullible students into divulging their personal data and in some worst unfortunate cases even their money as they go about the process of applying to these scholarships which are fake and misleading and are created by spammers for cheating naïve gullible students.

  1. Pay close attention and double check claims that a scholarship provider makes of being affiliated with esteemed and reliable schools and colleges

Several scammers will proclaim to be associated with a company that you recognize. Some impostors may even pretend to be the company you know and recognize, example being that an impostor may using the company logo or an email address which appears to be of that company’s and a web domain which appears to belong to the organization that you know and recognize.  You should do a thorough background check of the company meticulously prior to giving out any sensitive or personal information to them. Failure to do this may lead to account being hacked as well as identity theft.

  1. Learn to identify phishing websites and emails.

You can spot phishing websites and emails fairly easily if you are alert. If the content of a website has errors in spellings in addition to having lots of grammatical errors, email which does not match with the name of the organization, you should immediately exercise your caution. In case you click by mistake and go to a phishing website, you can identify if it is a phishing website or not by seeing if they provide contact information and information pertaining to the company.

If the website fails to offer the requisite information, chances are it is a phishing website. The other important element to notice is the copyright information of a website. If it has expired or out-of-date, then there is a likelihood that the website concerned is a phishing website.

Thus, you should never disclose personal information or information related to your bank account to scholarship providers at the very beginning. Exercise your caution, discuss with your parents before divulging any important information during your process of scholarship application and you will be fine.

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