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How to Avoid Scholarship Scams

Read the following tips on how to avoid common scams:

  • No processing fee is required to obtain Title IV grants from the Department of Education.
  • A student should never provide bank account or credit card information over the phone unless they initiated the call and trust the company they are calling.
  • A legitimate organization only needs information such as hobbies, past grades or other demographic information.
  • Search firms cannot "guarantee" scholarships or complete the application process.
  • Although a business may say millions of dollars go unclaimed each year, most of the unclaimed dollars are employer-paid benefits that are unavailable to many students.
  • For information about preventing financial aid scams, visit

Free Information

For free, reliable information regarding the financial aid search process, contact a high school counselor or financial aid office at a local college, university or career technology center. Financial aid seminars may also be sponsored at a nearby high school or higher education institution.

Been Scammed? Need to Report or File a Complaint?

If you think you've already been scammed by a financial aid search firm, report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC has an online complaint form and a hotline at 877.FTC.HELP (877.382.4357).

Online Resources About Avoiding Scholarship Scams and Identity Theft


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  • 1-800-GO-TO-XAP (1-800-468-6927)
    From outside the U.S., please call +1 (424) 750-3900


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OCAP believes that financial literacy and understanding the financial aid process are critical aspects of college planning and student success. OCAP staff who work with students, parents, educators and community partners in the areas of personal finance education, state and federal financial aid, and student loan management do not provide financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice. This website and all information provided is for general educational purposes only, and is not intended to be construed as financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice.