Wow! You just got a letter from a company saying they'll find scholarships for you. What a great deal! After all, who has time to research scholarship opportunities? But be careful — there are a lot of scholarship search scams out there. Watch for these crooked claims and make sure you're not being taken for a ride:
"For a small fee, we'll give you the most comprehensive list of scholarships for which you're eligible from the largest database available."
You should never spend your hard-earned money on a fee-based matching service. The biggest and best scholarship databases are available for free on the web. The number of scholarships some services boast can be misleading because individual sponsors could offer hundreds of different scholarships.
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"$6.6 billion in scholarship money went unclaimed last year."
Though it would be nice if there were piles of money out there waiting for someone to claim them, the truth is that most financial aid programs are highly competitive. Statements about billions of dollars going unclaimed are based on old estimates of unused employer tuition benefits that the general public can't get anyway.
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A handful of highly restricted scholarships sometimes go unclaimed because they can't be claimed. For example, the Zolp scholarship at Loyola University of Chicago is available to a Catholic student born with a last name of "Zolp". Most years there are one or two students who qualify, and occasionally there are none. But you can't change your name to qualify for the award.
"You are guaranteed a minimum of $1,000 in financial aid sources."
A service can't guarantee you'll receive funding because they have no control over the decisions made by the scholarship judges.
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"Everybody is eligible."
While scholarships are awarded based on a variety of merits and needs, some set of restrictions always applies since sponsors are looking for candidates who match certain criteria.