Scholarship Scams

In the process of putting together plans to pay for college, be careful not to get involved with unscrupulous companies that use high-pressure sales techniques and methods. Remember the old adage: "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." Use caution and check into the company's business practices before giving out any personally identifying information or signing a contract.

How does a student know whether or not they have received information that may constitute a scholarship scam? Following are examples of wording that the U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) caution borrowers to be suspicious of:

  • "The scholarship is guaranteed or your money back."
  • "You can't get this information anywhere else."
  • "I just need your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship."

If the student thinks they have received information that could be a scam or have been contacted by someone who uses statements similar to the ones above, contact the FTC. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers avoid them.

To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or TTY at 1-866-653-4261, or visit the Web site at Consumers may also check the reputation of scholarship search services or any other financial aid services by contacting the Better Business Bureau at or the Michigan Attorney General's Office at