(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Both graduate and undergraduate students are scrambling for fewer, available scholarships thanks to the economic down turn. Those exploring the possibility of enrolling in a program will often find mention of scholarship opportunities for simply providing contact information in banners and Google ads on site pages.
Those familiar with the free scholarship resource site, fastweb.com, can also find these types of postings in their search results. Typically, the only requirements to be included in drawings for scholarships are your contact information and maybe a self-serving product plug in a 100 word or less writing sample.
Online college directories operate in the same manner. If a link to a school is clicked on one of these sites, it directs the viewer to a contact form, not the school in question. Once the form is submitted robocalls begin.
If you are interested in a school on one of these directories, the best way to get information is to Google the school’s name and contact the school directly through their website. That way you avoid getting on marketing lists that can lead to an endless parade of junk mail and phone calls.
If it sounds too good to be true, it is. These posts are nothing more than lead generating endeavors. Sure, some of them may give away a couple of thousands of dollar every year, but the door the applicant opens is often not worth the price of a random chance at a supposed scholarship.
Nearly all of the all the schools offering these “scholarships” are for-profit colleges, which usually translates into being one of the most expensive options a student has for their studies.
How these “scholarships” really work
These scholarships are really the product of lead-generating marketers looking for fresh contacts. They require scholarship seekers to provide their personal information on a scholarship application that is really a lead form.
The marketers then collect all the information on all of the forms and sell everyone’s personal information to interested schools. These schools pay up to $100 per qualified lead. The schools then use the information to contact those on the list regarding enrolling in their school, and other marketers buy the lists to increase their own lists. Shortly after filling out one of these forms, applicants will begin receiving a constant barrage of phone calls and emails regarding schools and other “scholarships”.
If a person replies to email or picks up the phone, a sales representative claims to be contacting the person regarding the scholarship application, but the pitch is about the enrolling in the school, not a free ride
Test it for yourself
If all of this does not seem believable to you, go to one of these sites and test it. Submit a fictional name and track where your information goes, just be prepared for the calls and emails to flood in to your voicemail and inbox.
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Janelle Jalbert is the founder of Edusistance and the creator of the Race to College Success program. She has been an educator and advisor for more than a decade. You can reach Janelle by email, follow her on Twitter @RacetoCollege or @edusistance, and add yourself as a fan of the Race to College Success Facebook page.