Again this year, thousands of students and parents – including many in West Michigan – will fall victim to scholarship search service scams. They will receive impressive letters promising money, or see ads for one-day seminars at a local hotel where parents of college-bound students can obtain vast amounts of money for college. If your family is confronting big college expenses, we at the BBB want you that some of these services many charge hundreds of dollars for worthless programs. Here are some warning signs. It’s probably a scam if a company:
- Guarantees “A Scholarship or your money back.” Many financial aid programs, like work study, are almost automatic. Any student qualifies, but the company can claim they got you “financial aid.” Real grants or scholarships are awarded on basis of performance or qualifications. No one can “guarantee” that you’ll get one.
- Claims, “You Can’t Get Our Information Anywhere Else.” Free scholarship information abounds – in school libraries, bookstores, guidance counselors, and college financial air offices. The promoters don’t have secret information.
- Wants a credit card application fee to hold your scholarship. Never give your credit card or bank account number over the phone Most legitimate scholarship search companies don’t charge big application fees.
- Says “We’ll do all the work!” Nonsense! There’s no way around it. You must apply for scholarships or grants yourself.
- Claims “You’ve been selected” or “You’re a finalist” for a scholarship or grant that you never applied for. Scholarships won’t come looking for you.
Before you sing a contract with a scholarship search company, be sure to check their BBB report.
Be sure to get any promises to these services make you in writing. Ask school counselors or financial aid offices of their experiences with these companies.
If you ever feel that you have been taken advantage of, lied to or swindled you can submit all the details to the BBB by filing out a complaint at BBB.org.