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Friday, February 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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BBB Tip of the Week: Avoid scholarship scams

Kirstin Davis

Are you going back to school or have a child who is looking to attend a higher education institution in the next year? Paying for higher education is rising exponentially and the offer to have it paid for a substantially reduced cost is tempting. Unfortunately, scammers play on this daunting financial commitment. To avoid being taken advantage of while planning to continue education, look for these signs:

    Application Fees. Legitimate scholarship programs do not require a fee of any kind to apply, even for processing. If a program offers to refund your application fee if you are not a recipient, there is a good chance you will never receive your money back.

    Guaranteed or Your Money Back. This is a good sign the scholarship is a scam.

    No Work for You. Scholarship scams will often suggest there is no work on your part. Legitimate programs require that students and parents provide specific information, write essays and invest a significant amount of time in the application process.

    You’ve Been Selected for a Scholarship You Didn’t Apply For. You receive notice that you have been awarded for a scholarship that you did not apply for and they require personal information such as date of birth, social security numbers or fees in order to receive funds.

    Everyone is Eligible. Most legitimate scholarships reward students for specific criteria like athletics, volunteer work, career interests or other areas.

    Advance Fee Loans. Only work with reputable banks for educational loans. Be wary of very low interest rates offered for up-front fees.

Do your research and understand the differences between scholarships, grants, federal loans and work study. Confirm scholarship offers with written agreements and ask school guidance counselors for additional history and information.

Each year Better Business Bureau Northwest offers a Students of Integrity scholarship for students in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Alaska and Western Wyoming. For more information go to

For more consumer protection tips and information on BBB investigations, visit To report an incident to Scam Tracker, visit

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