Sources of Scholarship Aid
There are a great number of reputable sponsors of scholarship awards. Scholarships are funds that don't need to be repaid, so it's best to explore these opportunities fully before looking for loans. Legitimate sources for scholarship include:
State and local governments
Brands and corporations
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Scholarship Search Companies
Scholarship search firms can, on occasion, find available funds for you. However, many of these firms are not reputable.
If you plan to use a scholarship search company, first check its reputation by contacting the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.com), a financial aid counselor, or a state attorney general's office. Often these companies operate under multiple names or in several states. You have the right to ask questions and investigate the organization before making a commitment.
Be skeptical of any high-pressure sales tactics that require you to buy now or risk losing out on the opportunity.
Ask for names of three or four local families who have used its services recently.
Ask how many students have used the service and received scholarships as a result.
Ask any and all the questions you may have. If the answers are evasive, there may be a problem.
Investigate. You may be able to get these services for free.
Ask for a copy of a written refund policy for the service. Get everything in writing.
Read all the fine print before signing anything. Legitimate companies never guarantee or promise scholarships or grants.
For more information about scams or to report possible scholarship fraud, contact the FTC toll-free at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or go to www.ftc.gov/scholarshipscams. Another good source to learn about different scholarship scam tactics is www.finaid.org.
TOP SIX WARNING SIGNS OF FRAUD
The Scholarship Fraud Prevention Act created a fraud-awareness partnership between the U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). As a result, the FTC compiled a list of the top six warning signs to help you identify a scholarship scam.
"The scholarship is guaranteed or your money back."
"You can't get this information anywhere else."
"I just need your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship."
"We'll do all the work."
"The scholarship will cost some money."
"You've been selected" by a "national foundation" to receive a scholarship - or "You're a finalist" in a contest you never entered.