Scholarships are a great way for international students to obtain financial aid that is, essentially free, as you would never need to pay a scholarship back. For this reason scholarships are very popular, and there are some companies/ individuals that will prey on students eagerness to obtain a scholarship to scam them out of money.
The best way to guard yourself from a scholarship scam is to know what the main scams are and how they work.
To protect yourself there are many things you can look out for that should send alarm bells ringing when looking for a scholarship.
How to Spot a Scholarship Scam
Money up front/ Application Fee
Whenever you are applying for a scholarship never send money up front or pay an application fee, you should not have to send money to an organisation to get a scholarship. These organisations will most likely just pocket the money and you will never hear from them again.
You should be careful of companies that ask for a loan fee before they will disburse and money to you. Real loan companies will add fees to your loan balance which you repay over time and will never make you pay a fee upfront.
Never trust a company that advertises that they will guarantee to get you a scholarship. These companies will ask for a fee and may even offer a money back guarantee but will never get you a scholarship. Legitimate services will never say they guarantee to get your scholarship.
Company/ Scholarship Names
If you see a scholarship service or company that is using words like "official", "national", "government" or other governmental or official sounding names be careful. They are most probably trying to sound official to cover up the scam.
How to Protect Yourself From a Scam
There are few rules you should follow when searching for scholarships that will help you avoid being scammed.
Ask yourself, "Is it too good to be true?"
If an offer or scholarship sounds too good to be true, it usually is! If you think something is just too good then sit back and do a little more research as things that sound too good to be true, usually are.
Never pay money
You should never give any money out to companies to cover things like application fees, service fees or really for any reason. Legitimate scholarships will be free to apply and will not ask you to pay money to get money - it does not work like that.
If you have a scholarship offer that is asking for money up front or you want to make sure they are real contact them personally and make sure you can get hold of them by phone and ask for their physical address and any other information you want. Real companies will be glad to hand this information out and scam organisations will be hesitate to do this.
Do some checks on the company or organisation that is offering the scholarship, for example use google to check their name (if someone has been scammed by them you will probably see their name online somewhere about it. Also check the country company directory for that organisation, for example all UK companies have to be registered and you can search them online for free.
At the end of the day, the best advice that anyone could give to find a legitimate scholarship is to use your time to search for a scholarship yoruself. Scholarships will not fall into your lap and there is no quick and easy way to finding one - so just use your time wisely and follow the rules above and you should be fine!
Legitimate Scholarship Resources
As you might have noticed by now, one of the main themes is that there is never any need to pay money out to find or get a scholarship. All the high quality resources that are out there are free and will not charge anything to search - here is a listing of some of the major scholarship search sites that are all FREE!
- International Scholarships - https://www.internationalscholarships.com
- International Educational Financial Aid - https://www.iefa.org
- Fast Web Scholarships - http://www.fastweb.com
- Scholarship Experts - http://www.scholarshipexperts.com
Additional Resources for Avoiding Scams
Please also see these resources for some more detailed information about scholarship scams: