Search For Scholarships

Written by Tara Peris
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When you search for scholarships, you should keep your eyes open and assess potential programs with a critical eye. The only way to avoid the fraud that runs rampant in this area is to be skeptical about what you see. There are thousands of reliable scholarships out there, but you should know how to spot the red flags.

Red flag number one: the application fee. Many fraudulent scholarship programs will state that a small fee is needed in order to cover handling and administrative costs. In some cases, the fees seem ridiculously low--as little as two or three dollars--and it's easy to rationalize giving it a shot. Don't do it. You'll just be wasting your time and money. Very few legitimate scholarship programs require fees. If one is required, do your homework to make sure it's on the level.

Warning Signs

Red flag number two: leftover money. Other scams operate by telling students that a significant portion of scholarship money--indeed, billions of dollars--goes unclaimed every year. Simply put, this is a lie. All scholarship programs are competitive, even the small ones, and in general, no organization ever reports a budget surplus. Supposedly, one national organization reported excess funds about 30 years ago, but this has never been substantiated.

With these risks in mind, you should think about the application process as an opportunity to invest your time rather than your money. Plan to thoroughly research each and every program for which you apply. This should never require money and it will give you a good sense of whether the scholarship is what it appears to be. Steer clear of any program that guarantees you money, as no legitimate program can do this.

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