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How to Avoid Scholarship Scams

Posted in Blog on May 15th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

Students can have a tough time telling legitimate scholarship opportunities from frauds. According to US News, around 350,000 students and families fall for scholarship scams every year, resulting in a loss of $5 million annually. If you are searching for a scholarship, make sure you know about these common scholarship pitfalls, so you can protect yourself better.

1. Application or Processing Fee

Don’t trust scholarship offers that ask you to send in an application or processing free. These so- called “scholarships” are not genuine. Don’t trust any statement that guarantees a refund, as the money is almost never returned. Application fee scams come under the most frequent scholarship scams, as they trick thousands of students every year. If you want to avoid such a scam, always keep in mind that you don’t need to pay a fee. You also need to be careful about loans that offer very low interest rate and ask you for a small fee up-front. Such loans never materialize and end up wasting your time and money.

2. Rewards for no effort

Be wary of scholarships that seem to offer you large amounts for no effort. These scholarships are quite similar to the pop up ads you usually come across that say “You have just won $10,000 and obtain your reward by paying a $100 processing fee.” If you did not apply for a scholarship or enter a contest, it is highly likely that the particular scholarship offer is a scam. Always remember that there is no such thing as a free lunch. If you are being offered something that looks too good to be true, make sure you investigate further. If the scholarship looks too easy to acquire, there is a pretty good change you are being duped.

3. Free Seminar

Students occasionally get invites to attend free seminars to get scholarships and financial aid. Apparently, there seems to be no harm in attending such a seminar, however, this free information can be a trap. The free seminar often turns out to be a crafty sales pitch trying to sell students insurance and other investment products. A worst case scenario can be where these seminars trap students into getting overpriced loans or expensive scholarship services. If you want to avoid going to fraudulent seminars, make sure you’ve done your homework by doing extensive research. If you are unsure about the legitimacy of a seminar, you must call the company or your college financial aid office. If no number is listed on the seminar, it is a red flag. Only look for those scholarships and financial aid options that you trust.

4. Exaggerated claims

You will come across scholarship offers making sweeping claims. If you see such an offer, just stay away. Following are some of the examples of claims made my fraudulent scholarship schemes.

  • “You can’t get this information anywhere else.” If you can’t get information about a scholarship anywhere else, then there is a pretty good chance it is not legitimate.
  • “For the scholarship, I need your bank account number or credit card.” Scholarship providers would never need this information, as genuine scholarship fund is either paid by check or sent directly to your college.
  • “Guaranteed scholarship or your money back.” There is no such thing as guaranteed scholarship, so don’t let such a claim deceive you.
  • “This scholarship will cost you some money.”  Real scholarships do not cost money. They are supposed to provide money, not to take it away.

First Come First Served Scholarships

Beware of time-sensitive scholarships that offer students scholarships on first-come-first-served basis. Genuine scholarships provide a deadline by which an applicant must complete and submit their application. In contrast, time sensitive scams usually offer an amount to whoever applies first. Most of the time, these scholarships seem to be available for those ‘lucky’ applicants who apply first. If it is a legitimate scholarship, all applicants will be required to apply at one time i.e. before the deadline date. Besides, time sensitive scholarship may also lure students in by telling them that they are already qualified for a scholarship, based on academic achievement, cultural background, handicap and disabilities, or religious affiliations. Pre-qualification may sound legitimate but it’s not. Legitimate scholarships have so many qualified applicants that they never extend offers like that.

Always keep in mind that the only application that will decide your eligibility for all scholarship programs is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  You can fill out the FAFSA form and submit for free. If you want reliable information, you may try these free sources of information.

While looking for scholarships and financial aid for college, it is always preferable that you conduct proper research and avoid hasty decisions. If you have more tips and questions on how to apply for reliable scholarships and avoid scams, feel free to share with us in the comments below.

Biggest Student Loan Mistakes

Posted in Blog on April 16th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

Are you filling out your student loan application and finding yourself at your wit’s end? Yes, student loan applications can be that intimidating. There is so much you don’t know and then you are also worried about the mistakes that can cost you. However, a lot of student loan blunders can be avoided by being a little proactive. Once you know what can go wrong during the application process, you are in a better position to get the financial aid you want and the right amount of it. Have a look at these biggest mistakes that you must avoid to get your desired loan.

1. Procrastination kills!

Know the deadlines beforehand. Start working on the information you need and go through the procedure long before the deadline, so you don’t panic in the end. This often leads to blunders. The biggest blunder on your part would be missing out on the deadline, just because you didn’t do your homework.

2. Blanks mean forgetfulness

You are filling out your student loan application but you find that there are questions that don’t apply to you. A common blunder by students is to leave that part of the application blank. The system interprets the blank as information that you forgot. So, you must fill out the complete application form and put a zero or not applicable instead of leaving it completely blank.

3. Haste makes waste

Are you in a hurry to get your application form submitted? Do you know that lack of patience on your part can backfire? Yes, don’t just try to get over your application form in a hurry. Make sure that you check it thoroughly for errors. Mistakes made in haste can result in unwanted delays or even a complete disqualification. Always double check information whenever you are submitting an application form.

4. Losing your records

Do not lose your documents at any cost. By having the records intact, you will have the proof that you submitted the application. You must be ready to prevent any situation that can count you out of financial aid or a student loan. Be proactive!

5. Greed will put you in trouble

Don’t borrow more than you need. You may think have a greater amount of loan at hand makes sense, but remember that you need to pay interest on it, and you need to pay it back as well. Don’t accumulate unnecessary debt as it can get quite stressful for you in future. Just borrow what you need, nothing more!

6. Not seeking help

Are you confused about the information you need to put in your application? If the application process is giving you a hard time, don’t be afraid to seek help from the right sources. Contact the relevant authorities and avoid confusion. If you follow your own assumptions, you will end up wasting your time and effort.

7. Numbers can go wrong

A lot of numbers are involved in the loan applications. When crunching numbers, there are chances that you may jumble them up. You may read those numbers incorrectly or make a mistake. A few errors can lead to delays in the process and unnecessary stress. To keep trouble to the minimum, make sure you double check all the numbers. Ask someone to read them aloud for you, so you know that they are correct.

8. Incomplete picture

An important part of your student loan application is the information you provide about your parents or guardian. Make sure that the information you give is accurate and complete. Plus, don’t make the mistake of giving the wrong household size. The number of people in your household also includes you!

9. Forgetting to sign off

It often happens with students that they fill out the form correctly but they totally forget to sign it in the end. You must keep in mind this common mistake made by others. Also check if your parents or guardian have signed all the places on the form. Check twice if all the required signatures are there.

10. Failing to apply

There are so many instances where students assume that there is no way they can get financial aid. Your own doubts and unwillingness to make an effort can keep you from getting the loan. Applying for financial aid increases your chances, its as simple as that. If you don’t apply for a loan at all, you kill all the possibilities yourself.

It is good to learn from your own mistakes, but it is even wiser to learn from the experiences and blunders of others. The above mentioned can keep you a lot more alert when you are filling your student loan application and it will also save you from unwanted trouble. If you have similar application experiences or mistakes that got you in trouble, feel free to share with us in the comments section below.