Have you received a letter in the mail inviting you to attend a seminar (perhaps someone has already reserved a place for you)? Will a group send you a list of scholarships for which you are eligible for a fee? What about a scholarship that requires you to pay a processing fee? Will a company offer to complete applications for you and all you have to do is supply your personal information? Stop before you go any further!
Here are a couple websites that list things to look for when investigating scholarships or 'college admissions assistance' companies.
Scholarship Scams - what to look for
Both of these sites are legitimate. In my own case, I investigated a company with the Better Business Bureau and used the company's location. I was immediately alerted to the rating of a D+ and then read the consumer complaints that followed (not good!). The BBB will evaluate a business regardless of whether or not it is BBB accredited. High pressure tactics, not allowing consumers to take home materials to read and review, and failure to refund money was enough for me!
Unfortunately, these companies prey on the concern of well meaning parents and often times will target parents with younger children or first generation college students. Bottom line, the information provided is available for free from reputable sources such as high school counselors, college financial aid offices, and legitimate financial aid sites such as those listed above and www.fafsa.ed.gov/ .
You should never have to pay for scholarships other than postage (and many scholarship apps are done online)! The FAFSA (financial aid form) is also free!
If you've been scammed or have questions about whether or not a source is legitimate, contact one of the following: