Grants can help many people, but you must be careful when opening yourself up to finding a grant. There are many Scam Artists out in the world that will prey on anyone. When looking for grants you must practice common sense and be proactive. Information on preventing yourself from getting scammed through grants are as follows.
Rules of Thumb
- If you must pay money to get money, it might be a scam.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Spend the time, not the money.
- Never invest more than a postage stamp to get information about scholarships.
- Nobody can guarantee that you'll win a scholarship.
- Legitimate scholarship foundations do not charge application fees.
- If you're suspicious of an offer, it's usually with good reason.
Certain telltale signs can help you identify possible scams. Note that the following signs do not automatically indicate fraud or deception; however, any organization that exhibits several of these signs should be treated with caution.
Application fees. Be wary of any "grant" which requests an application fee, even an innocuously low one like $2 or $3. Most scams have application fees of $10 to $25, but some have had fees as low as $2 and as high as $5,000. Don't believe claims that the fee is necessary to cover administrative expenses or to ensure that only serious candidates apply, or that applicants who do not receive any money "may" be entitled to a refund. Even if the outfit gives out a token scholarship, the odds of your winning it are less than your chances of winning the lottery. Legitimate scholarship sponsors do not require an application fee.
Loan fees. If you have to pay a fee in advance of obtaining an educational loan, be careful. It might be called an "application fee", "processing fee", "origination fee", "guarantee fee", "default fee" or "insurance fee", but if it must be paid in advance, it's probably a scam. Legitimate educational loans deduct the origination and default fees from the disbursement check. They never require an up-front fee when you submit the application.
Other fees. If you must pay to get information about an award, apply for the award or receive the award, be suspicious. Never spend more than a postage stamp to get information.
The Unclaimed Aid Myth. You may be told that millions or billions of dollars of grants go unused each year because students don't know where to apply. This simply isn't true. Most financial aid programs are highly competitive. No service has ever substantiated this myth with a verifiable list of unclaimed scholarship awards. There are no unclaimed scholarships.
The most common version of this myth, that "$6.6 billion went unclaimed last year", is based on a 1976-77 academic year study by the National Institute of Work and Learning. The study estimated that a total of $7 billion was potentially available from employer tuition assistance programs, but that only about $300 million to $400 million was being used. This is a 20-year-old estimate that has never been substantiated. Furthermore, the money in question is not available to the general public, only to certain employees enrolled in eligible programs of study whose employers offer tuition assistance. This money goes unused because it can't be used. Popular variations on this myth include the figures $2.7 billion, $2 billion, $1 billion and $135 million.
We apply on your behalf. To get a grant, you must submit your own applications, write your own essays and solicit your own letters of recommendation. There's no way to avoid this work.