Accordion Content
  • ​​​​​Don't pay for help to find money for college
  • Don't pay for the FAFSA
  • Beware of identity theft
  • Report Financial Aid Fraud
  • Don't give in to pressure tactics or a guarantee that you will receive aid.

​​​​​​How to Spot Scholarship Scams​ from Collegeboard Big Future​

Scholarship and Financial Aid Scams​ from the Federal Trade Commission


There are a variety of mistakes that students make consistently when applying for scholarships. Here are the most common:

  • Application Deadlines:​ If you miss the deadline then there is almost no way your scholarship application will be processed. Your first question when researching a new scholarship should be when is the scholarship deadline? Did I absolutely send in the application before the deadline?

  • Thinking your essay is "one size fits all." You wouldn't turn in the same homework assignment for every class, so it may not be wise to use the same essay for every scholarship you apply for. Scholarship providers read lots of essays when reviewing applicants, and submitting a generic cookie-cutter paper is a sure-fire way to go unnoticed. If you are applying for scholarships with similar essay requirements, find the most important points you want to discuss. Use those points across all of your applications but craft your individual entries around those elements in a way that will resonate with each specific provider.

  • Letting your grades slip. There are certain types of scholarships known as "renewable scholarships" that allow students to receive award money every year (sometimes every semester). The catch is that in order to qualify for the scholarship year after year, you must meet certain eligibility requirements—most of the time one of those requirements is to maintain a certain grade point average.

  • Submitting an incomplete form. Along the lines of proofreading your essay, you should always review the scholarship's instructions to ensure you are not forgetting anything. Some scholarships request supplemental paperwork like reference letters or transcripts, and if you forget to include these kinds of documents your application will be considered incomplete, regardless of how well written

  • Forgetting to check your email. If a scholarship application asks you to include an email address there's a good reason behind it - they will most likely contact you via email if you're selected as a winner. When applying for scholarships, make sure to check your email on a regular basis and keep track of scholarship deadlines so you have an idea of when the winners will be announced.​
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