Knowing the following 10 warning signs can keep you from being a scholarship scam victim (courtesy of FastWeb).
1. Fees. You shouldn't have to pay to search for or apply for scholarships.
2. Credit card or bank account information needed. You should never have to give credit card or bank account information to award providers.
3. Scholarship guarantee. No one can guarantee that you'll win a scholarship because no one can control scholarship judges' decisions. Also, be wary of "high success rates" - they usually do not refer to actual award winners.
4. No work involved. You can't avoid putting in time to fill out a scholarship application.
5. No contact information. Legitimate sponsors should provide contact information upon request. If the sponsor does not supply a valid email address, phone number and mailing address (not a PO box) after you've asked for one, that could the sign of a scam.
6. Unsolicited scholarships. If you are called to receive an award for which you never applied, be alert - it's most likely a scam.
7. Pressure tactics. Don't allow yourself to be pressured into applying for a scholarship, especially if the sponsor is asking for money up front.
8. Claims of "exclusive" scholarships. Sponsors don't make their scholarships available through only one service.
9. Sponsor goes out of their way to sound "official." Scammers sometimes use official-sounding words like "national," "education" or "federal" or they display an official-looking seal to fool you into thinking they are legit. Check with your school if you question a scholarship provider's legitimacy.
10. Your questions aren't answered directly. If you can't get a straight answer from a sponsor regarding their application.
• Bob McDonnell is executive director of Arizona College Planners, L.L.C., a member of the College Planning Network, the National Association of College Funding Advisors and the National Association of College Acceptance Counselors. For questions, email Info@ArizonaCollegePlanners.com.