Finding scholarships that pertain to you is one of the biggest challenges students and parents face in the scholarship process. To make it even more difficult, there are now companies out there that put out fake scholarship applications simply to collect your information and sell it.
Among many college scholarships is the Smart College Scholarship, and people wonder if this scholarship is legit or a scam. In this article, we will resolve the puzzle “Is Smarter College Scholarship Legit” and also give tips to Know if a scholarship is real or fake.
Is Smarter College Scholarship Legit?
There are many legitimate organizations and companies that offer scholarships, one of which is Smarter College. Smarter college scholarship is legitimate because people win it. The program has awarded scholarships to 15 people since it was launched in 2021.
Since it is open to a large group and doesn’t require an essay, there are probably tens of thousands of students entering to win, making it extremely unlikely that you will win. When you apply for the scholarship, you are also likely to have to check a box that will allow them and their “partners” to email you whenever they want. So it is a legitimate scholarship; there are just some drawbacks to entering, and it is highly competitive. If you enter, don’t bank on winning, and prepare for more spam emails.
Assessing a Scholarship, Is it a Scam or Not?
So how can you tell the difference between a legitimate scholarship that is worth your time and if a scholarship is a scam that is just trying to get your information?
- Require essays or at least a few short-answer responses
- Require additional support such as transcripts, SAT/ACT scores, and recommendation letters
- Most have minimum G.P.A requirements – though there are some exceptions to this
- Are rewarded once or twice per year
Scholarships that are most likely a Scam
- One hundred characters or less for your ‘essay’
- Commonly use the terms’sweepstakes’, ‘drawing’, or ‘random selection’
- You have zero requirements aside from entering your basic information
- Ask for your social security number (FAFSA [a government site] is the only legitimate site that should ask for this.)
- Are rewarded weekly or monthly?
How to avoid scholarship scams
To determine the legitimacy of any scholarship program and avoid scams, you should follow these general guidelines:
- Research the Organization: Look into the organization offering the scholarship. Legitimate scholarship programs are typically associated with reputable institutions, foundations, or companies.
- Contact Information: Legitimate organizations have clear and easily accessible contact information. Check for a physical address, phone number, and email address. Be wary if this information is missing or hard to find.
- Application Process: Legitimate scholarships have a well-defined application process with clear eligibility criteria and requirements. Be cautious if the application process seems overly simple or lacks transparency.
- Check for Fees: Legitimate scholarships do not require application fees. Be cautious if you are asked to pay money to apply for or receive a scholarship. Here are some red flags to help you spot fake scholarships:
- Requests for a bank account or credit card number for any reason
- Processing fee
- Application fee
- Redemption fee
- Money-back guarantee
- Read Reviews and Testimonials: Look for reviews and testimonials from previous scholarship recipients or participants. This can provide insights into the legitimacy and credibility of the program.
- Official Website: Legitimate scholarship programs have official websites with detailed information about the scholarship, its sponsors, and application procedures. Be cautious if the scholarship lacks a proper online presence.
- Verify with Educational Institutions: Check with your school’s financial aid office or a trusted educational institution to verify the legitimacy of the scholarship.
- Trust Your Instincts: If something feels off or too good to be true, it’s essential to trust your instincts and proceed with caution.
- Research unsolicited contacts: You can often find potential scholarship scams if you receive an unsolicited letter, email, phone call, or message—meaning you didn’t contact them first—especially if it seems too good to be true and asks for your personal information.
In most cases, the person, company, or organization offering a legitimate scholarship will not contact you first. They are unlikely to single you out since they may already have hundreds or thousands of applicants to sort through. They likely won’t bother with people who haven’t even applied yet.
Typical phishing scam best practices apply when someone contacts you about a scholarship program out of the blue:
- Research every person or organization to make sure they’re genuine.
- Don’t make any payments or share financial information.
- Watch out for suspicious email addresses that don’t match the contact name or company name and use so many numbers that a human likely didn’t create them.
- Don’t open any attachments in emails or messages.
- Delete, report, or discard the correspondence.
Scholarship Websites that offer Legitimate Scholarships
Here are the best websites for scholarships you can use to find awards you’re eligible for that are legit:
Scholarships.com divides scholarships by a variety of unique categories, including GPA, military affiliation, ethnicity, artistic ability, ACT or SAT score, and residing state. And when you select one of these categories, you’ll likely see a large list of subcategories, where you can then view all eligible scholarships. This system helps students find niche awards with smaller applicant pools that they’re more likely to win.
Fastweb aggregates awards from both large and small directories. You have to make a profile to search for scholarships, which is similar to other sites. However, after the initial sign-up process, you can easily search for scholarships and filter your results based on several data points. Fastweb will also notify you when a new scholarship matching your description is posted and when you have upcoming deadlines.
3. College Board
You’re probably familiar with the College Board if you’ve taken the SAT, AP tests, or other college entry exams. But the College Board can help you after you’ve been accepted into a school—its scholarship search helps you find awards to help you pay for college.
After you create an account, you can filter awards by your interests, field of study, club affiliations or specific situations, like if your parents are divorced. College Board will also automatically match you with eligible scholarships based on the information in your profile. There is also an autofill function, which allows you to reuse information from other scholarship applications, saving you time and helping you apply for more awards.
4. Going Merry
Applying to scholarships can feel repetitive; that’s why Going Merry lets students type in information once and apply for multiple scholarships at the same time. If you’re in a time crunch, look for awards on Going Merry before checking out the other major sites.
The site also prides itself on including local awards, which are less competitive and may be easier to win than big national scholarships.
ScholarshipOwl is a popular scholarship website that compiles awards and organizes them by amount, types of requirements, number of winners, and length of time until the application is due.
ScholarshipOwl will automatically resubmit your application to recurring scholarships that don’t require anything beyond your basic information. This leaves you more time to focus on awards that require essays and recommendation letters.
While many scholarship sites are difficult to navigate, Bold.org has one of the cleanest interfaces. It’s easy to search and find different scholarships you may be eligible for and you can filter by your education level, award category, award amount, and deadline. You can even toggle on the “no-essay” button to find scholarships that don’t require a written essay.
Cappex claims to be the biggest online scholarship database, so it could pay to check the site for possible leads. Like other sites, you have to create an account to see all the scholarships you might qualify for. Their filter system lets you sort awards by year in school, scholarship amount, gender, ethnicity and award deadline. You can also search for renewable scholarships, which offer college funding for multiple years.
When you fill out a profile on Scholly, their algorithm will comb through available scholarships and create a list of eligible awards. Each scholarship will have a Scholly score, which ranks how good of a fit it is for your background and experience. The higher the Scholly score, the stronger match you are with the scholarship’s requirements.
The U.S. Department of Labor has its own scholarship website through the CareerOneStop portal. There are more than 8,000 scholarships listed, and you can filter awards by keyword or sort them by amount, deadline, residing state, and state where you’ll be studying.
Although the Smarter College Scholarship has potential, there are some subtleties to it. You can decide if it’s in line with your educational goals by arming yourself with information and adopting a logical approach. Recall that going to college is a big investment in your future, so make sure you make the right decision.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How can I confirm the authenticity of the Smarter College Scholarship before applying?
To confirm the authenticity of the Smarter College Scholarship, you should conduct thorough research. Start by visiting the official Smarter College website to review scholarship details and eligibility criteria. Additionally, contact Smarter College directly to obtain official information and documentation regarding the scholarship program. Cross-reference information with independent sources, such as government education agencies or reputable educational institutions, to ensure that the scholarship aligns with recognized standards.
2. What are the advantages of the Smarter College Scholarship?
Smarter college scholarships offer various advantages, including financial support, academic growth, networking, increased confidence, and community involvement. These benefits empower students to thrive academically, professionally, and as active members of their communities.
3. Is “smarter college scholarship” legitimate?
It is a real scholarship, but applying has certain challenges and it’s extremely competitive. Don’t expect to win if you enter, and be ready for more scam emails.