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Rediff News  All News  » Getahead » How to spot a scholarship scam

How to spot a scholarship scam

April 23, 2014 15:36 IST

Image: No genuine institution will assure you scholarships or grants. Watch out for the red flags!
Photographs: Rediff Archives Courtesy

How does one distinguish a genuine financial grant from a fake? Basic common sense should help!

Overseas education is undeniably a hefty investment.

While you may want to look for ingenious ways to fund your education, please be on guard against dubious scholarship scams that use heavy sales pitches to lure unsuspecting students and make some quick money.

Always remember the golden rule -- any genuine enterprise will by no means assure you scholarships or grants.

We urge you to use your common sense and be careful not to fall prey to such manoeuvres. Here are some tips on how to identify such scams:

1. There is a hefty application fee involved

If the organisation in question is asking you to pay a very high amount of application fee, think twice.

It may be nothing more than a deceitful move to take money out of your pocket.

Genuine scholarships are always merit-based and are extended to deserving or needy students only.

Any organisation that claims to get the scholarship on your behalf is taking you for a ride.

Collegepond is a career guidance company whose aim is to help students achieve their potential, crack the competitive exams and guide them in the application process for various courses across the globe.

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2. Sharing personal information

Image: Do not share your personal account details immediately.
Photographs: Illustration by Dominic Xavier/

If the concerned organisation is urging you to divulge your personal information such as your date of birth, account number or bank details, make sure you don't give them out. 

You could be at a risk of identity theft.  

This deceitful organisation may be trying to hack your account and rob you of your account balance overnight.

It's always better to check online for the reviews and reports about the institution beforehand. 

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3. Scholarship guaranteed!

Image: If an organisation guarantees you scholarship without considering your academic profile, it could be a scam.
Photographs: Illustration by Dominic Xavier/

Beware of any organisation that offers you guaranteed scholarships.

While the prospect may sound enticing, it can never happen that an organisation will blindly give you scholarship without evaluating your GPAs and other credentials. 

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4. Unsought scholarships

Image: How can you possibly win a scholarship you never signed up for in the first place?
Photographs: Illustration by Uttam Ghosh/

If you receive any notification from an organisation stating you have won a scholarship you never applied for, do not be fooled.

No organisation, no matter how philanthropic in nature, will ever extend an unsolicited scholarship. 

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5. Scholarship for a price

Image: Know the difference between a loan and merit scholarship.
Photographs: Illustration by Dominic Xavier/

Any legitimate scholarship will not involve any collateral or guarantors.

In rare cases if it does, please make sure that do your own research and discover the truth behind it.

It may be a loan scholarship and not a merit-based scholarship and you would definitely not want to mistake one for the other.

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6. Pressure tactics

Image: Don't be a soft target; research enough and verify the claims before you apply for a scholarship.
Photographs: Illustration by Uttam Ghosh/

Be wary of catchphrases like 'It is now or never' or 'Click for an exclusive offer'.

Any organisation or college would never keep a scholarship under wraps.

Any company claiming to have an exclusive right to a scholarship is leading you up the garden path.

Cyber world is chock-a-block with Internet phishing scams and you may get countless emails from these fraudulent companies flooding your account.

Always watch out for these red flags and safeguard yourself from being soft target to such ploys.

It is always a good idea to google, speak to your seniors and counsellors before applying for any scholarship.

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