Common Massage Scholarship Scams to Look Out For

It can cost you several thousand dollars to get through a massage school. Needless to say, not every student has the resources to pay for the education on his/her own. Applying for a loan is an option, but in that case, you have to repay every dollar you receive as financial aid, along with interest that can certainly add up to a healthy amount over time.

In other words, this means that you could be burdened by debt for several years after you graduate. Perhaps the best option for people wanting to attend massage school is to get a scholarship – without of course running into the various scholarship scams that surround us today.

The financial assistance you receive through a scholarship comes with no strings attached and you don’t have to repay the money. Additionally, most scholarships cover all the costs associated with your education. You may use the money for tuition, fees, books or campus living expenses.

This is why most students wishing to attend massage school, or any school for that matter, look for scholarships which they are eligible for. It is a great feeling when you qualify for a scholarship program and receive the financial aid you are seeking. However, there is a dilemma facing prospective massage therapy students.

Not all school scholarships are created equal. Most of them provide you the assistance and support you are looking for to help you get through massage school using the money you receive. However, there are some scholarship schemes that are scams, and could swindle you of your money, let alone providing financial aid.

The biggest point of concern is that there are quite a few of these fake scholarship programs that you will find, both online and offline. You might end up being conned of your money if you are not careful. These criminals know that students wishing to attend massage schools require financial aid, and they prey on your eagerness to get your money.

Therefore, it is crucial that you protect yourself from such schemes. The best way to do this is by keeping an eye out for some common signs that a scholarship scheme may be bogus. Let’s go over some of the more important ones:

When a Scholarship Agent or Company Asks for an Application Fee

Legitimate scholarships will never ask you for a dime under any pretext. Therefore, it is a clear giveaway if a scholarship asks you to pay an application fee, or any sort of fee to “get in the mix” and qualify for one. In most instances, the application fee is small, not more than $10. This is why students don’t think twice before paying it.

At that time, your guard is typically lower because you might wonder that what good $5 or $10 can do for a scammer. What you need to keep in mind however is the fact that you aren’t going to be the only one applying for the scholarship.

Generally speaking, there are hundreds, if not thousands of willing applicants who pay this fee. Multiply $5 by a thousand and you have yourself a decent sum of money. It’s a nice little business for scammers out there.

Oftentimes, the scholarship is advertised as a raffle draw or something similar. By paying the application fee, you enter the contest to get a chance of being awarded the scholarship. At the end, no one receives the so-called financial aid.

Every person who paid the ‘application fee’ believes someone else won it, and since it was a matter of a few dollars, no one thinks twice about it. This is the attitude the swindlers count on to make money from such scams.

Asking for a Redemption Fee

As mentioned above, genuine scholarships don’t ask eligible students for any money whatsoever. Similar to the application fee, you might be asked to pay a redemption fee by scammers. In this case, the story is that you have won the scholarship and need to pay a nominal amount to ‘redeem’ it.

Since the scholarship is purported to be worth thousands of dollars, students are willing to spend a few bucks on it. Here again, this is a clear sign that something fishy is going on and that you should not fall for it. In many instances, you may not have even applied for the said scholarship, and it shows up out of nowhere anyway.

In some cases, you may be asked to pay certain taxes on the scholarship amount. This is the same as the redemption fee. Many ways to skin a cat – but all methods lead to trouble at the end of the day. Keep your guard up.

You will most likely be told that you will receive the funds as soon as you pay the taxes. You should make it a point to avoid scholarships where you are required to pay some money upfront, regardless of how small the amount is.

Paying to Search for a Scholarship

The only way you can be eligible for a scholarship is if you meet the criteria defined for it. For any genuine massage scholarship, you should be able to find the criteria online or through other means.

However, there are certain search services which ‘guarantee’ that they will find you a scholarship through which you can get the money you need to attend massage school. In return for their services, they charge a fee.

There is no way a scholarship can be guaranteed to you. You should know better than to fall for this trap. The concept is simple. If you deserve it and it is on merit, then you’re definitely getting it with or without a fee involved.

The Scholarship Has a Lack of History

Perhaps the most obvious sign that a scholarship is scam is if there is no record of its past winners or affiliations. Any scholarship that has provided financial assistance to students going to massage schools would list their names on their website or on any literature they provide.

If you don’t find any such lists or records, and there are no affiliations, steer clear of the scholarship. Just think about it, if a scholarship is reputable and reliable, why wouldn’t it share its history with prospective applicants?

Seeking Sensitive Personal and Confidential Information

It is common for scholarships to ask you for your personal information. This is done to verify your credentials and ensure that you are eligible for the scholarship. Since there is a considerable sum of money at stake, it is a given that the organization providing it will want to double-check before releasing the funds.

However, there is a limit to what they ask. If you are asked for your bank account number, credit card number or Social Security number, it probably means the scholarship is a scam. This may be a trap for identity theft. Again, beware.

These are some signs of massage scholarship scams that you should look out for. At the same time, it is important to understand that there are many genuine opportunities through which you can get the massage scholarship you are looking for.

It’s all about being educated and aware of the situation. Now that you are, you can be more cautious and thoroughly research scholarships. Just remember not to pay any kind of money or give out sensitive / confidential details to these people/companies no matter what they say.

Read our comprehensive article on financial aid here.

We also have an annual scholarship we give away. Click here to learn how to apply.

 

Neal Lyons is a founding member and volunteer contributor at the MTSI Institute, an information based portal dedicated to guiding and assisting aspiring massage therapists establish a successful career in massage. Neal is a published author and has collaborated on several mobile applications that serve the massage profession. You can view his published work on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and on Google+

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