How to Find Legitimate Scholarships
(And Avoid Scholarship Scams!)
Allison Ourada - EducationQuest December 7, 2021
You should apply for as many scholarships as you can in order to reduce your out of pocket expenses for
college. Unfortunately, not all scholarships are legitimate and you should be cautious while conducting
your search. How can you tell a real scholarship from a fake? Use these tips to become an informed
Questions to Ask:
Who is offering the scholarship?
It is a good idea to look for scholarships from organizations that you already know and trust. Check out
awards from businesses and organizations that you are already familiar with, and from your future college.
If you are looking at a scholarship from an organization you are unfamiliar with, do some research before
you apply. Check out their website and see if there is a way to contact them directly. If you are still unsure,
ask a trusted adult for help.
How did you learn about this scholarship?
Although you may learn about some scholarships directly from the provider, it is likely that your
scholarship search will focus on resources that aggregate awards from many different sources. This
includes online scholarship searches, scholarship lists from your school counselor, and more. If you learn
about a new award from a resource that you trust, it is likely that the scholarship is valid. Click here to
check out ScholarshipQuest for local and state awards in Nebraska, and check out EducationQuest’s list of
trusted national search sites at the bottom of that page.
What information are they requesting?
All scholarships will request some of your information. Some examples of information gathered by
legitimate scholarships are: Full name, address, phone number, email address, the high school and/or
college that you’re attending, citizenship/residency status, academic information, and financial information
from your FAFSA. Usually the type of information requested will make sense depending on what
scholarship you’re applying for and the eligibility requirements. If you’re unsure why a scholarship
provider might need a specific piece of information from you, reach out and ask.
Red Flags to Avoid - Never pay to apply!
There are enough free scholarship resources out there (like ScholarshipQuest) that you should never have
to pay anything to search for or apply for scholarships. In fact, most scholarship resources that ask you to
pay are just trying to scam you out of your money. It is likely that you would never see any scholarship
money from them in return.
You’ve already won! (When you haven’t applied)
You may receive emails or other correspondence stating that you’ve already won a scholarship that you’ve
never applied for. The majority of scholarships require some sort of application process, so it is best to
avoid these ‘too good to be true’ options. The exception to this rule is the scholarship package that your
college creates for you. In this situation, the college financial aid office would gather information from
your admission file and award any scholarships that you meet the criteria for. Some college scholarships do
still require an extra application, so reach out to the financial aid office if you are unsure.
Requesting Too Much Personal Identifiable Information (PII)
We talked earlier about information that legitimate scholarship applications request, but how much
information is too much? To start with, no legitimate scholarship will ask for information such as your
checking or savings account number, or your credit/debit card info. Some scholarships may request
information about your college savings account (in Nebraska, this is your NEST 529 account), but this is
for the purpose of depositing money, not withdrawing it. 529 accounts only allow the account owner and/or
beneficiary to withdraw funds.
Then there’s your Social Security Number (SSN). Some legitimate scholarships do still request the SSN as
part of the application process, but most scholarship providers have moved away from that practice. Check
with the provider to see how your information will be used and how your privacy will be protected if they
request your SSN.
Finding legitimate scholarships can be difficult. If you need help, talk to your school counselor or another
trusted adult. Save your time and attention for legitimate scholarships and leave the fake ones behind!
Clarkson seniors – be sure to check out college specific scholarships and local
|Click on the image to view the latest details about the 2022-23 FAFSA.
2022-23 FAFSA Demo is ready!
The FAFSA Demo is made up of six short videos that walk students and parents through each section of the 2022-23 FAFSA. Please share with your students and families.
The Demo is one of several FAFSA Tools available at EducationQuest.org. If your students need help with the FAFSA, they can call the location nearest them to set up a free virtual appointment.
|These Wallace Wildcats got help with their college applications when they participated in this fall's Apply2College event.