A number of private companies offer to help students and their families with scholarship searches. Some of these companies are legitimate. Others aren't. A tip-off could be if the firm guarantees or promises scholarships or grants. If it does, says the Federal Trade Commission, stay away. No reputable firm can legitimately make such a claim.
Telltale lines that should make you think twice about using a particular company's services:
- "You can't get this information anywhere else."
- "May I have your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship?"
- "We'll do all the work."
- "There's a fee to apply for the scholarship."
- "You've been selected by a national foundation to receive a scholarship."
- "You're a finalist" (for a scholarship you never applied for).
The Federal Trade Commission has established a comprehensive Web site as part of its Project Scholarscam. The site has lots of useful information about financial aid fraud generally — including how to file a complaint.
University of Vermont cautions students about scholarship searches – Direct mail marketing campaign mentions UVM without permission, charges fee.