There are plenty of ways for single mothers to obtain help for education costs, but there are also a large number of programs out there that are just trying to charge a fee to find financial aid that you are entitled to for free.
Many have heard the saying, If it sounds too good to be true… and this is the case with many of these so-called opportunities that are being offered on the internet. Don’t misunderstand my skepticism, there are plenty of legitimate programs being offered and unfortunately the faulty programs are doing their best to imitate the legitimate offers.
For most trusting people, it is very difficult to tell the difference between the real programs and those that just want to take advantage of your need for help. I am going to share with you some things to watch out for as you surf through the abundance of offers that are flooding the world-wide web.
First off, I speak from experience with scholarships. I am the founder and selection committee member of a private foundation that awards multiple scholarships each year. I have seen the positive side of the scholarship world, but in recent years, I am seeing more and more of the negative side along with its uncaring greed.
Watch Out For:
1. Sweepstakes: Any scholarship offer that is run like a sweepstakes, is usually false. If you didn’t fill out an application with a deadline, steer clear.
2. Credit Cards: If they ask for your credit card or bank account number on an application, over the phone or on the internet… shred it, hang up or “X” out. Scholarships give money away to recipients. They don’t charge them.
3. Sales Language: Programs that make statements like, millions go unclaimed or you won’t find this anywhere else, click next. They are probably trying to sell you something, not help you. Legitimate scholarship programs offer free applications and information to anyone that is eligible.
4. Fine print: Read the fine print carefully on any offer. Most legitimate scholarships have very little fine print other than qualification and eligibility requirements. If there are too many stipulations or any cost involved, move on to the next one and don’t look back.
Positive Steps To Take:
Whether you are planning to study on campus or online, the following steps will help you make the most of your scholarship search efforts and help you qualify for the most financial aid.
1. Reputation: Use only reputable scholarship search sites like, College Board, Fast-Web, Scholarships.com and others. They never charge you for search results and most of the larger, legitimate scholarship programs are registered with at least one of these.
2. FAFSA: File your Federal financial aid forms and figure out your EFC. These will help you qualify for as much financial aid as possible from federal, state and participating private foundations, grants and endowments.
3. Local Help: Check with local chambers of commerce, work or member organizations that your family is affiliated with as well as local high schools and universities for their scholarship listings. These sources often provide help, but may not advertise their programs.
Every day some innocent student in need, is being convinced that they will get big money just for joining, becoming a member or paying some other fee to a so-called scholarship placement organization. While some of these companies are providing a valuable service which may include help with the forms, asset positioning to help reduce your EFC and other quality financial advice; others just want to charge you for the free information that you can get by following the above steps.
Please don’t make these mistakes. With the high cost of a college education, you need all the help you can get, but paying unnecessary fees to get it, ends up adding to your expense.
If you would like to discover additional ways to help maximize financial aid and reduce the high costs associated with college, you can download our FREE College Cost Savings Kit by clicking here [http://www.CollegeEducationForLess.com]. There will not be any fees or costs, it is completely free for you to download, print and share with your friends or family.
About the Author: Keith Maderer is a financial expert and father of five. He has been a financial adviser in the Western New York for over 30 years. He is the owner of SENIOR Financial and Tax Associates and is the founder of the Maderer Foundation, a private scholarship program for area youth since 2006.