The rule of thumb is, if you have to give money to get money - beware, it might be a scam. Most legitimate scholarship sponsors do not require an application fee, even if they have a required application. Most that do charge - usually a modest fee, will waive the fee if the applicant can provide evidence of finance need.
Warning! Be wary of organizations that charge a fee to submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or to find you money for school. In general, the help you pay for can be obtained for free from your school, the Center for College Planning, on-line sites or from the U.S. Department of Education.
If you think that you have received an offer that is fraudulent:
- Research the organization with the Better Business Bureau
- Report the information to the state Bureau of Consumer Protection, the state Attorney General's office and the National Fraud Information Center (1-800-876-7060)
If you think you are a victim of a financial aid fraud:
- Immediately contact your bank, explain the situation, and request that the bank monitor or close your bank account
- Report the fraud to the US Department of Education's Office of the Inspector General at their hotline (1-800-647-8733) or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) through their online complaint form $cholarship $cams and their hotline (1-877-382-4357)
- Never give anyone your bank account information
- Don't spend money to get money - contact the free sources that are available through your high school, college financial aid office, on line sites (e.g., FinAid, The SmartStudent Guide to Financial Aid), state and federal organizations and publications
- No one can guarantee that you will get money that you are not already eligible for through the financial aid process
- Advertisements with invitations to free seminars or interviews rarely end up totally "free"