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Beware of Scholarship Scams

Jul 19, 2008
It happens every year. High school seniors and their parents are defrauded by scholarship scammers; people who promise to help them land scholarships and financial aid they wouldn't otherwise receive.

If you'd guess that such scammers bilk families out of $100 million a year or more, you would be correct.

Because college costs scare nearly all of us, and because many people do not realize that there is money available to help them send their children to college, these scammers have found it very easy to find and exploit their victims.

The first contact between the scammers and their potential victims is a letter offering expert advice and assistance.

The letter doesn't look like typical junk mail. The logo often looks like that of an Ivy League college, and the letterhead and paper are generally on fairly high quality paper. Like the con men behind them, the promotional materials look credible.

The letters generally start by appealing to fearby talking about the high cost of college.

Once they have stated the problem...paying for college...they assure you they can provide the solution. They may offer to "teach you the secrets of financial aid", "locate millions of dollars in unused scholarships", or otherwise help you take advantage of their special expertise.

The letters are not always the same, but one element is. They invite you to come to a hotel function room or other reasonably large venue to learn more about financial aid and scholarships, at no cost. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? If you think so, think again.

The gathering, whatever it is called, is a well rehearsed sales pitch. The gist...you need money, we can help you get it. And, nowhere do you get the one piece of information you need most...everything of value these people can offer you is available elsewhere, for free.

The group pitch is followed by individual meetings during which families are pressured to immediately pay for the services offered. Many yield to the pressure, writing checks in excess of $1,000 for a worthless set of services.

Its sad. And, it happens every year. Dont let it happen to you. Get all of your financial aid advice from your school counselor, college financial aid office, and reputable publications and websites.

Most important of all, never pay anyone for financial aid advice or services. Never.
About the Author
Daniel Z. Kane is a university dean with websites offering information on scholarships, online schools, online degrees, and online colleges .
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