What are Scholarship Services?

Let’s Talk About Scholarship Services

Some companies as we have mentioned will mask themselves as scholarship services but really they are just wanting you to pay them for getting results as to which scholarships are out there. That is a big NO NO.

To find the scholarships are free, you just have to research. Its public knowledge so it shouldn’t be some secret. So for those I say RUN! Run like the wind. If you do a google search, you will find which scholarships to apply to. It’s not hard. It takes a few minutes. It’s something that as a professional in the field of higher education there are companies out there prying on people’s lack of knowledge.

Beware of Scholarship Services Scams

Some companies as we have mentioned will mask themselves as scholarship services but really they are just wanting you to pay them for getting results as to which scholarships are out there. That is a big NO NO.

To find the scholarships are free, you just have to research. Its public knowledge so it shouldn’t be some secret. So for those I say RUN! Run like the wind. If you do a google search, you will find which scholarships to apply to. It’s not hard. It takes a few minutes. It’s something that as a professional in the field of higher education there are companies out there prying on people’s lack of knowledge.

How to Spot a Scholarship Scam

  • Fees – If you are searching for a scholarship and again are requested to pay some sort of fee then it’s a scam. This includes application fees and processing fees.
  • Information requests – The asking for credit card numbers and social security numbers are pure signs of a scam. Cappex also goes on to explain that scholarship providers are not required to report their scholarship awards to the IRS (unless the scholarship is a fee for the provided services).
  • Bank account – Having this information can give these companies the opportunity to empty your bank account clean.
  • You won but didn’t apply – Ever seen one of these? I seem them all the time. It will tell me I won a scholarship but I never even remotely completed an application. What usually comes next is them wanting you to pay the application fee.
  • Claiming to be a foundation – Yup I’ve seen this one as well. If you ever see something like this, you can check out to see if they are a tax exempt organization here: IRS Tax Exempt Organization Tool.
  • You receive a scholarship check – Yet another scam that I have experienced. At least a few times a year I’ll get these nice looking checks in the mail. They are addressed to me and everything! There is that moment of happiness when I see my name on a big check I’m not going to lie. However, the truth soon settles in.

Other Signs of Scams for Scholarship Search Services

  • Promote guarantees
  • Offering of exclusive scholarship access
  • High success rates
  • False sense of urgency

You can also check out this short YouTube video on how to avoid College Scholarship Scams.

Are there Legitimate Scholarship Services?

On the flip side there are services out there to assist with the process….are they worth it?

US News covered this in an article last year. Should you pay money to receive money? Well professional help may not be a bad idea depending on what the help is for? This is something that I have always gone back and forth about. I may not have a firm opinion on it so honestly I may need to think about it more.  

Some positives may be the following:

  • Take advantage of someone’s expertise – Anything that can cut down the learning curve is going to be of value.
  • This person may almost act like a coach which is great – I can see the benefit of having a motivating force in something that seems daunting. The more “players” on your side can help ease the parents and students confusions during this.
  • They will hold you accountable – Lack of action seems to be the constant thread in why many don’t receive scholarships. This accountability will go a long long way!!!

Some not-so- positives may be:

  • Services can be costly – It’s a service. This is how a company like this makes their money. So it’s going be costly.  
  • There are no guarantees – So you’d have to understand that you paying for advice is not a shoe-in for getting scholarships but more of its guidance. Understanding this early on is essential. Remember it’s not a guarantee it’s the direction and the action that the company is providing.

It Takes Time and Effort

Again we spoke about the work and effort that is entailed in looking for scholarships and money for college. Those that are successful are sharks about it. In fact they almost become obsessed. It may not be a bad idea to adopt that mindset. To amplify that getting some help may be of your best interest.

They could assist with the essays, the search, the interview process, and your overall plan for mapping out your financial strategy for college.

At one point in my career I used to have financial sessions with new students on an individual basis that latest anywhere between 40 minutes to an hour. These sessions were a detailed plan of what they could expect financially. I can immediately tell the ones that were not going to be up in their elbows with loans and debt because they:

  • Paid extreme attention during the session
  • Took notes
  • Ask questions
  • Did their research prior to the session
  • Had a plan of action for repayment

I share these experiences again to show that it doesn’t have to be as taxing as we might think it is. Many of these individuals had no prior knowledge but they took the time and effort to ensure they were not going to be another statistic. You learn as you go but it needs to start somewhere.

College Prep Services

Lockwood College Prep  seems to offer some college prep services. In fact they say on their homepage to “GET INTO YOUR DREAM COLLEGE WITHOUT BRIBING, LYING, or PHOTOSHOPPING” obviously referring the recent scandal with the celebrities and their kids.

Their site states: College Success without the Stress.

Some of their services that they offer are:

Financial Aid Forms Service

This seems to be dedicated to the complete of the FAFSA and any other financial aid related forms. This can be confusing so I can see where this can be of value.

College Essay Assistance

The all-important College Essay. It’s like a blank canvas at times. What do you need to write about and what details do you need to be aware of? Again, I do see some value to a service like this.

Inner Circle

Seems that they have an inner circle which is coaching. Per their site it will increase the odds of admissions into your child’s “dream college” and obtain scholarships. This is intriguing so I’d like to explore this one a little further.

Instant College Funding

I was anxious to click on this one. They state you can discover the hidden “loopholes” in the financial aid system that families can use to beat the “overpriced” colleges. Again, I’m totally intrigued and I just may dig into this some more.

Applications and Essay Bootcamp

This made me laugh as basically they are taking your “weak teen” and getting them into shape with applying to college and the writing of college essays. I like the way they presented this. Very creative!!!

Private Coaching

They offer private consulting and coaching to help increase the odds of admissions.

Appeals

Something that very few do and I’m glad this company is offering this. Once the FAFSA is complete and the offerings are determined 95% of the students just accept the awards. However, there is the opportunity to appeal. Something to think about for sure.

Success Toolkit

This service seems to maximize the eligibility for grants and scholarships.

Hide Money

There is also a free guide titled “How to Hide Your Money from The Financial Aid Office”. Again, some eyebrow raisers in here for sure and slippery slopes but I rather have a company attack this head on as opposed to sweeping this under the rug.

Strategy Session

They also offer a one-on-one meeting to create YOUR college plan. I’m a big fan of this planning as without a plan and an aim we really don’t know what we are going for and therefore it’s hard to then determine success.

Unfortunately, services like this are less than the scam services. It literally blows my mind at how plentiful those services are. I mean do they really think that what they are providing is of value? I’m sure with the recent scandals and people getting more informed, they will go away.

The legitimate services that were discussed still should be viewed as a “guarantee.” There are also two parts to a service like this. The quality of the overall service provided and the customers (students/parents) willingness to take the action.

I rather be the person that took the action and although it didn’t amount to everything I thought it would I can be at ease. Without the coach and/or motivational force pushing to do this then more often than not we should still be in that “paralysis by analysis” mode where nothing gets done.

Time is of the essence. It may not seem like that to a high school student entering their junior or even senior year but it really is. With time being of the essence then we need to make sure our time is being sued wisely. Therefore rolling up the sleeves, getting our fingernails dirty is one of the keys to success. Your college search outline/plan is the second key as this is your road-map to getting to where you want to go to.

Tuition Drop Podcast

Check out our episode on the Tuition Drop Podcast on Scholarship Services. This post goes into more detail however, if you are on the go and want a few minutes of audio to listen to on this topic you can do so below.

Tuition Drop Podcast – Scholarship Services
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