How to Know If a Scholarship is a Scam or Real. How do I tell if a scholarship is real or a scam? How do I know and apply for legit scholarship opportunities?

At School Isle, we have received so many questions related to the issue of real or fake scholarships. We have also tried our best to address the issue individually. However, for fast dissemination of this information and for better outreach, we have decided to publish this article on our website.

While we mention few illegal/fake scholarships and their features here, do well to drop your reviews or your experience if you have had encounter with any of them.


Characteristics of a Fake Scholarship

Here are some red flags that may indicate a scholarship is fake:

  • The scholarship requires you to pay an application fee. Legitimate scholarships never charge application fees.
  • The scholarship promises you a certain amount of money, but asks you to provide personal information or make a payment first. This is a common scam tactic.
  • The scholarship has vague or nonexistent eligibility requirements. Legitimate scholarships typically have specific eligibility requirements, such as GPA, major, or financial need.
  • The scholarship is advertised through spam emails, social media posts, or websites that look unprofessional. Legitimate scholarships are typically advertised through reputable sources, such as college websites, scholarship directories, or social media pages run by legitimate organizations.
  • The scholarship asks you to provide your Social Security number or other sensitive personal information. Legitimate scholarships will never ask for this information.
  • They may have a generic name or title. Legitimate scholarships are typically named after the organization that sponsors them, such as the Gates Millennium Scholarship or the UNCF Scholarship. Fake scholarships may have generic names, such as “National Scholarship” or “College Scholarship.”
  • They may have a poorly designed website. Legitimate scholarships typically have well-designed websites with clear information about the scholarship, the application process, and the organization that sponsors it. Fake scholarships may have poorly designed websites with typos, grammatical errors, or outdated information.
  • They may ask for personal information that is not necessary for the scholarship application process. Legitimate scholarships will only ask for personal information that is necessary to determine your eligibility, such as your name, address, and contact information. Fake scholarships may ask for additional information, such as your Social Security number, bank account information, or credit card number.
  • They may pressure you to apply quickly or to pay a fee immediately. Legitimate scholarships typically give you plenty of time to apply and do not pressure you to pay a fee immediately. Fake scholarships may try to pressure you into applying quickly or paying a fee immediately.

It’s also a good idea to be familiar with the scholarship application process. Legitimate scholarships typically have a clear application process that includes submitting essays, transcripts, and other documentation. If a scholarship seems too easy to apply for, it’s probably a scam.


While the scholarships mentioned below are real, we find it worthwhile to mention that scammers clone or build websites which look like them just to scam applicants. Therefore, you should always look for the real websites before you start your application.

Examples of fake scholarships

Here are some examples of fake scholarships:

  • The Gates Millennium Scholarship: This scholarship is a popular target for scammers. They may create fake websites or send out emails that look like they’re from the Gates Foundation.
  • The National Merit Scholarship: This scholarship is another popular target for scammers. They may send out emails that say you’ve been selected as a finalist, but you need to pay a fee to claim your award.
  • The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Scholarship: Scammers may create fake websites or send out emails that look like they’re from UNCF. They may ask for your personal information or money in exchange for a scholarship.

What to Do Before Applying for a Scholarship

If you’re not sure if a scholarship is legitimate, you can do a few things to check:

  • Do a Google search for the scholarship name and see if any other people have reported it as a scam.
  • Check the scholarship’s website for contact information and call or email to ask about the scholarship.
  • Contact the organization that’s sponsoring the scholarship to see if they’re aware of any scams.

If you think you’ve been scammed by a fake scholarship, you should report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can also file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

If you see any of these red flags, it’s best to avoid the scholarship and do some more research to make sure it’s legitimate. You can also contact the scholarship’s sponsoring organization to verify its authenticity.

Tips for avoiding scholarship scams

  • Only apply for scholarships through reputable sources. Do not apply for scholarships that you find in spam emails, social media posts, or on websites that look unprofessional.
  • Do your research. Before you apply for a scholarship, take some time to research the organization that’s sponsoring it. Make sure they are a legitimate organization and that the scholarship is real.
  • Be wary of scholarships that promise too much. If a scholarship sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Legitimate scholarships will not offer you a guaranteed scholarship or a scholarship that is significantly more than other scholarships.
  • Do not give out your personal information. Legitimate scholarships will never ask for your Social Security number, bank account information, or credit card number. If a scholarship asks for this information, it is probably a scam.

By following these tips, you can help protect yourself from scholarship scams.


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