Consumer Alert: Not All College Scholarships Come Without Strings Attached

Consumer Alert: Not All College Scholarships Come Without Strings Attached
  • Opening Intro -

    Students applying for college scholarships know that there are some hoops they will need to jump through as they fill out their applications.

    Many scholarships are merit-based, others are directed toward serving certain ethnic groups while still others have no restrictions besides requiring the student to already be enrolled in or accepted by a two- or four-year college.


At, we don’t usually endorse specific college scholarships, but we’re happy to keep you informed about what is out there. And, on occasion, we’ll share college funding opportunities which are not scholarships at all – rather they are random drawings with no application or essay requirement. One such opportunity is the “Off To College Scholarship Sweepstakes” offered by SunTrust Bank. We have mentioned this opportunity twice, most recently in the second part of our January 2011 round up.

Reader Caution

Some so-called college scholarship opportunities are outright scams and are usually reported to and handled by the proper authorities such as a state’s Office of the Attorney General. If an “opportunity” does not look quite right we won’t share that information with our readers, which is one reason why a certain online retailer’s “green scholarship” presentis a good example of one we won’t be sharing with our readers.

What we can tell you this: writing an essay and publishing it your own website, fan page or social media page is fine as is offering a link to the company’s website in exchange for a chance to win. But, when the winner is chosen based on a formula which decides who has driven the most traffic to the company’s website, we’re just not comfortable with spreading the news.

And for two reasons: 1), We want to know who will independently verify that the tracking software used to determine a winner is accurate and 2), Is this contest legal in every state?

This particular contest promises to pay out an award, but it’ll most likely do more to help the company increase its search engine optimization (SEO) than help participants or the environment.

Good Opportunities

No, we’re not against publicity or raising awareness for a certain cause, but we think that students can best use their time pursuing opportunities with the fewest strings attached. Filling out an application and writing an essay may take longer to complete, but at least the recipients don’t have to worry about paying local, state and federal taxes when claiming their prizes.

We think college bound students are best served by pursuing scholarships based on merit or need, and not helping a business perform better with the search engines. Do your best in school and pursue the best college scholarship opportunities available to you.

Caveat emptor!


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Categories: Scholarships