Scholarship Process – Q & A: Myths, Questions and Concerns

1. Is there such a thing as a guaranteed scholarship?

Nope. If someone offers you a guaranteed scholarship, that person is most likely a con artist. There are, quite simply, no guarantees in the scholarship game. Moreover, if you receive word that you won a scholarship you never applied for — which oftentimes requires payment of a claim, redemption or disbursement fee — watch out. If it seems too good to be true, it is probably a scam.

2. Should I have to pay an application fee for a scholarship?

No, be very wary of a scholarship foundation that requires an application fee, investment, processing fee et cetera. Many who fall for this graft send along an application and a check, and never hear back. The con works because the victims just assume they didn’t win the scholarship.

3. Are scholarships only awarded to those at the top of their class?

While there are a great many academic scholarships out there, there are many others that are awarded for non-academic factors and accomplishments. For instance, there are scholarships abound that focus more on future plans, extracurricular activities, background, racial extraction, disabilities, memberships, religion and distinctive interests, than an applicant’s GPA. These require more research, but are certainly worth the effort.

4. If I’m at the top of my class, will I have to look very hard for a scholarship? Shouldn’t foundations be pounding at my door for the opportunity to pay for my education?

Though there is the possibility that a college, in an effort to attract you, may offer you a scholarship you did not apply for, you’ll likely still have to apply for others. Think of it this way: there are far more number one students in the world’s schools than there are scholarships in the world which means you’re going to have to dig like everyone else. And for the rest of you, bear in mind that grades aren’t everything. There are a number of factors considered by scholarship judges, like future plans, personality, background, and community involvement.

5. Are there billions of dollars worth of unclaimed scholarships every year? Or is this just another cruel myth created to torture scholarship applicants?

It’s another cruel myth propagated by two likely factors:
  • Con artists looking to attract rubes spread this myth to make it easier to trick applicants into believing they have valuable, insider, for-pay information. And

  • 85% of the total sum of “scholarship funds” is constituted by employee-tuition benefits — which is when companies set aside a certain amount of money to pay for their workers’ higher education. Some misinterpret these monies as unclaimed academic scholarships.

Can I lose my scholarship, after it is awarded?

Just like your acceptance into a school can be retracted, your scholarship can be retracted if you fail to live up to the conditions specified at the start of the application process. Among the factors: minimum GPA, completion of education requirements in a specified period of time, a requirement that the recipient attend classes “full time,” restrictions on vacations/time off, field of study, choice of college, community service, sports and so forth. Be sure to carefully read over the requirements to gain a better understanding of what the scholarship requires of you.

Should I apply for more than one scholarship? Should I apply for more than a hundred? A thousand? More?

Let it be known, you will want to apply for as many scholarships as possible. That said, you absolutely do not want to waste time applying for scholarships for which you are either unqualified or “sorta” qualified. Remember, as long as there is one qualified applicant, the hordes of unqualified ones won’t make it an inch beyond the first cut. While the old Hail Mary is enticing, it is in the interest of your time, effort and chances to limit yourself to scholarships you’re qualified for. Once you find them, apply to as many as you like. You may have to cobble together a few to put a good dent in your tuition anyhow.

Applying for a loan will have an adverse effect on your chances of winning a scholarship or will result in an already-won scholarship being reduced.

Nope, another myth. Scholarship organizations understand that funds for school often come from a patchwork of sources, and therefore do not reduce scholarship sums because the recipient has won or borrowed additional cash.

Will I have to pay taxes on my scholarship?

You may. If a scholarship counts as income, you’ll need to pay taxes. For example, if the award is to be put towards travel, room and board and/or equipment, you’ll be taxed. If your award pays for your full-time tuition, books and supplies needed to fulfill your academic requirements, you will not be taxed. Any questions? Call the IRS 1-800-829-1040, or check out their Web site at