Posts Tagged ‘scholarship scams’

How to Apply for Scholarships

Sunday, October 24th, 2010


Even if money grew on trees you’d have to work to get it with a ladder and a basket. The same goes for scholarships.  They don’t just come to you.  You have to go out and get them.  The good thing is there are a lot of them.  Many more than there are money trees.

Our last International College Counselors newsletter let you know where to find scholarships.  This is what to do once your child finds the ones he or she wants to apply for.

Applying for a scholarship is a lot like applying for college.  There are a lot of choices that a student must go through in order to put together a list of worthwhile scholarships to spend time on.

International College Counselors Note:  Make sure your student filters the scholarships during the search.   Your child should only apply to the ones that match his or her skills, heritage, or other qualifications.  Scholarships are very strict on this.


Start Early.  The more time your student puts into looking for scholarships, the more choices they’ll have.  Your student will also need time to request necessary information and put the materials together.  Scholarships requirements may include:

Financial aid forms like FAFSA
 Letters of recommendation
Standardized test scores
Proof of eligibility, such as U.S. Citizenship, birth certificate, or tribal
membership card

Stay Organized.  Make separate folders for each scholarship and keep track of what is needed and when things are due.
Track the Scholarships on a Calendar.  Make triple sure deadlines aren’t missed.

Follow the Instructions. Carefully.  Count the words on the essay and provide the right materials.  If your student has any questions about what the scholarship requirements are, or how to fill out a part of the application, have them call or email the scholarship sponsors. Many applications are eliminated because the directions were not followed to the letter.

Stay on topic in the essay(s).  If the essay asks for the philosophic themes of an Ayn Rand novel, don’t be clever by comparing her to Batman.  Give them what they asked for.  Don’t give more.  Don’t give less.

Check and Recheck and Recheck the Application.  Words must be spelled right and all the questions answered.  Make sure it’s signed and dated by the right people, for example, a teacher if that is what the application requests. And make sure all the words can be easily read. 
Send the Application in On-Time.  Make sure you do this!
***Scholarships DO Affect Financial Aid Packages***

Contact the financial aid office of any colleges your student is considering to find out the details.  Each school has its own policy on which types of aid may be reduced or eliminated by the scholarship money.  Different types of aid that may be affected by scholarship monies are loans, work-study and need-based grants.

If you need help, contact a private college counselor at International College Counselors to help you with college admissions and finances.

International College Counselors Note:  Legitimate scholarships and scholarship websites are free! If you are asked to pay money to apply for a scholarship, look elsewhere.
Scholarship Experts

International College Counselors provides expert college counseling on undergraduate and graduate college admissions, financial aid, tuition, essays, and college applications. Mandee Heller Adler, lead college admissions consultant and Founder of International College Counselors tailors her wide range of college counseling and college coaching services to address the goals, needs, and dreams of each individual student, whether Florida college or Ivy League university. Our college advising company, based in Miami-Dade, Florida, works with domestic and international students. We also work with high schools in Miami, Boca, Broward and Palm Beach. Let us help you make the best decisions choosing, getting into, and paying for college.

Grants, General School Scholarships, and Loans. Oh my!

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Parents. There are ways your student can go to college for free. Even to the best colleges in the country. Westinghouse scholars, Olympic champions, and tween founders of multi-million dollar companies all qualify.

But, there’s hope for the rest of us! It’s all about maximizing your financial aid and minimizing your costs.

Top ways the expert college counselors at International College Counselors recommend to make college more affordable include:

1. Government Loans
As International College Counselors wrote about in our last blog, the US government loans money to every student who needs it. To receive FAFSA aid, a student (or parent) needs to fill out and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid ( This federal application for financial aid is also used to apply for aid from other sources, such as your state or school.

For our clients with the United States from San Francisco to Miami, our expert college counselors recommend that ALL students fill the FAFSA out regardless of their house-hold income, if they even have the remotest need.

2. Grants
Grants are better than loans because students don’t have to pay the money back. (Free money!) But they’re not available to everyone.

Pell Grants are federal grants awarded strictly on the student’s financial need. Other federal grant programs include the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (also based on financials), and grant programs for students with good grades in competitive high-school programs or specific fields of study, such as math, nursing or teaching. States and colleges also have their own pools of grant money. Like loans, grants are awarded based on the FAFSA results.

3. General and School Scholarships
For students who are seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen, whether in public school, private school, or home schooled (meaning everyone in high school) scholarships are available. They’re highly desirable because recipients do not have to pay them back and a good number of scholarships are not based on financial need.

Thousands of scholarships are available. Sources of scholarships can be national organizations, employers, corporations, professional associations, local clubs, contests, and the schools themselves. The trick is finding the ones that best match the student. If you’re not a Native American there’s no point in going for the scholarship. You’d be better off knitting a clever outfit out of wool, measuring less than 4’ 10” in height, having the last name Zolp. All are scholarship worthy. Here are the details on those scholarships and other unusual scholarships.

There aren’t many of these scholarships with unusual eligibility requirements, but it doesn’t hurt to see what may be out there. Some scholarships are based on financial needs. Others are awarded to students with special abilities qualified as academic, artistic, or athletic achievement. Still more are reserved for people who have certain religious affiliation, ethnicity, memberships, hobbies, or special interests.

School-specific scholarships, where a student can usually receive the largest amount of scholarship aid, are typically given to top athletes, top test score recipients, and other outstanding students. In order to apply for these scholarships, you need to contact each school individually. A rule of thumb is that if you are in the top 25% of the admitted class, there could be some scholarship money waiting for you. So, a student who can get into MIT with no scholarship money may receive a full ride at Georgia Tech (still a great school!), and a student who can get into Penn could get a full ride at Drexel (a terrific option!).

Students don’t have to look farther than their computer to find scholarships to apply to. Several free scholarship databases are available online, offering millions of different scholarships worth billions of dollars. For International College Counselors students, please be sure to look to Naviance for scholarship options. With thousands of scholarships to choose from, any student can find a scholarship to which to apply.
For non ICC students, and for ICC students who would like an additional resource, ICC recommends the scholarship database It’s large, most often accurate and frequently updated. Students should also look to their high school’s website for LOCAL scholarship opportunities. Clearly, a scholarship for students at your school, or your community will be easier to get than one that draws a national applicant pool.

Please remember during your search, if you are considering a legitimate scholarship site or scholarship you will not be asked for any money to apply or receive details.

Florida students should not forget to apply to the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program. The Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program provides scholarships based on high school academic achievement, and could cover up to 100% of a public college’s tuition.

Scholarships pay off in more ways than just Free Money. College advisors can say with certainty that they also look impressive on your college applications.

Getting out of college with little or no debt is hard, but not impossible, and with initiative, you and your student don’t have to rob a bank to do it.

Next week, I’ll write about How to Apply for Scholarships.

If you need help, contact a private college counselor at International College Counselors to help you with college admissions and finances.


Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

“Congratulations on being nominated to attend the National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C.”, reads the fancy script on the expensive feeling card complete with gold seal.   The card promises  “lifetime advantage” and valuable resume padding.  It’s hard to miss the words “elite”, “distinguished,” and “select.”
The letter is a marketing scam. These particular leadership conferences won’t enhance your college applications any more or less than that art club you joined but never attended.
Your child will meet other kids who are interested in government, attend workshops, hear speakers, and sightsee, but getting invited isn’t an “honor”. College admissions officers and college advisors are aware that attendance for most students depends on their ability to pay.
Solicitations for programs like these begin filling mailboxes, virtual and real, as soon as students reach middle school, and continue coming through college. Dozens of messages may be sent from one program, reminding you of enrollment deadlines and offering testimonials from participants and fundraising tips.  
According to the New York Times, The company that organized the conference, a direct-mail powerhouse called the Congressional Youth Leadership Council, runs an alphabet soup of such conferences that it says are attended by 50,000 students a year. It solicits recommendations from teachers and alumni of previous conferences, and it culls names from mailing lists, for which the council paid $263,000 in 2006 alone.
Other companies in this business include: the National Student Leadership Conference, People to People Ambassador Programs, Leadership Classroom, Envision, and the Congressional Youth Leadership Council.

Personally, it seems my name has ended up on someone’s list as well, and in the last week alone, I’ve fielded Congratulatory calls from America’s Who’s Who, the Cambridge Who’s Who, the princeton Who’s Who, and a couple of others.  And, for a mere $200-$900 dollars, I can have a plaque on my wall, a trophy, or a leather bound book in my office.  🙂
Mandee Heller Adler, Founder and Principal of International College Counselors 


International College Counselors
3107 Stirling Road, Suite 208
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33312 USA
(954) 414-9986

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