Searching for scholarships may feel like a job and families should treat it as such! It takes good research, organization and dedicated time to score a scholarship.

Post secondary education can be very expensive and scholarships are a great way to help cover some of those expenses. Over 180,000 student athletes are awarded $3.6 BILLION annually just by the NCAA alone! So while there are billions of dollars available in financial aid, always remember; if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

Report any potential online scams to your school principal and

  • NEVER pay to apply to a scholarship (not a processing, redemption or application fee; nada, zip, zero)!
  • Be wary of any scholarship service charging to access “unclaimed scholarships”.
  • Never provide your social security number, passwords or access to other online accounts such as banking or credit card information.
  • Be wary of scammers promises. Most students post personal information and pictures on social media that scammers can use to personalize an invitation or make it look like you’ve received an award from a legitimate organization by providing information about you. Sometimes there’s even a callback number that provides a recorded message about an in-person workshop at a local hotel. These calls and events are usually high-pressure sales pitches that require immediate payment for scholarship services. While many colleges hold workshops at hotel conference rooms; these events will be publicized on their website and should be attended with an adult.
  • Quite a few scholarship search engines require the applicant to provide a ton of information to create an account before even providing a list of scholarships. Read the fine print before creating an account as your information can be sold and may not be required to be encrypted which can lead to identity theft. Check with your guardian before providing anything more than basic information.
  • Go to the source! If McDonalds has a scholarship that you are interested in, go directly to McDonalds’ website and find the scholarship from there.
  • Many scholarship websites post “contests” that require you to pay a fee before receiving your prize. Be very suspicious of these types of contests. Remember you should not pay a fee. There are legitimate scholarships on these websites but when in doubt, ask a Career Specialist, Counselor or guardian before providing any information.
  • If you’ve receive a scholarship award notification, be sure to verify its legitimacy. If you did not apply for this scholarship, it is probably a scam.
  • Some scholarships may require you to submit a picture. Normally this is not a requirement and often is only requested once you receive the award. Do not submit photos of yourself without checking with a guardian.


The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is just that FREE. Completing the FAFSA determines if you’re eligible for federal aid but does NOT require you to take any aid or any loans. Over 80% of first-time undergraduate students that apply for financial aid received some type of aid. Many scholarships require applicants to file the FAFSA because financial need may be one of the criteria used in determining awards. VPS career specialists are trained on how to complete these forms and can assist families with the FAFSA or WASFA so take advantage of their knowledge by making an appointment (during and after school appointments are available).

  • Take time to research scholarships each week as new scholarships happen frequently and deadlines vary
  • It is worth your time. If it takes you five hours to apply and you are awarded $1,000; that’s $200/hour you’ve just earned for yourself!

VPS Career Specialists are here to help with all of your High School & Beyond Plans. Reach out to your school’s Career Center for help