Playing the Scholarship Lotteries for Fun and Profit

By Patricia Gorden Neill - May 20th, 2013

When you’re investigating scholarships, you’re bound to run into scholarship lotteries. You enter your name and address, perhaps your GPA and that’s it. You are entered in the lottery and your name might, very small chance but it might, be picked for the scholarship of $1,000 to $10,000. Your odds of winning are 1 in 10,000, but who knows—someone wins these things and it could be you.

Unlike normal scholarships that are awarded based on need, merit or athletic, musical or other ability, scholarship lotteries ask for nothing more than a few pieces of information about you such as your name and address. What you’ll face if you register, of course, is that your information has been marketed to a zillion companies and you’ll end up with scads of junk email ads. If that doesn’t faze you, then go for it. Yes, the odds are low, but it also can’t really hurt.

Scholarship Lottery Scams

A few things to beware: being asked to pay to enter the sweepstakes. This marks it as a scam and you’ll lose the entry fee as well as have no chance of winning any money the scam is not about to pay out. Another warning sign is if you’re told you are a finalist, although you never entered anything, or the lottery guarantees that you’ll win, is another sure sign of a scam. Watch out for these three signs, but if you don’t see them, then perhaps the scholarship lotteries you’ll stumble over on your scholarship searches are legit and there’s a least a small chance of winning.

How Many Students Win Scholarships?

Overall, not that many students are awarded traditional scholarships, the ones based on need, merit or ability. FastWeb, a scholarship search site, polled over 40,000 college students and found that over 80 percent had not received any scholarships at all. For that and other reasons, FastWeb itself runs several scholarship lotteries, which are worth looking into. Some have a contest element to it, others are simply enter your name and win variety. As it is difficult to gain free money for your college education, it can work to your benefit to enter a number of these scholarship lotteries and see what happens.

College Loan Lenders

Education lenders often run scholarships to attract students to their Web sites. They benefit by bringing Web traffic to their sites and by selling whatever information you provide to marketing firms. However, if you don’t have a problem with that, you can find these scholarship lotteries at Wells Fargo, Sun Trust, Next Step Magazine and AnyCollege.com. The Wells Fargo program is called CollegeSTEPS.

One tip on avoiding all the junk mail you’ll see coming to your email address. Sign up for a secondary, free online email at hotmail, yahoo, gmail or any of the others. Use this email when entering the scholarship lotteries, but be sure and check that email occasionally. That’s where you’ll be alerted if you’ve won. You can also delete all the junk mail regularly.

State Lotteries

Some states are well known for running lotteries that pay out in scholarships for students of their state going to in-state schools. Tennessee has a number of scholarships including the Tennessee Hope Scholarship, Helping Heroes Grant, Aspire Awards and the General Assembly Merit Scholarship. Arkansas is another big state for its lottery that awards scholarships to state students. Other states with scholarship lotteries include New Mexico, Vermont and Georgia.

$10,000 Scholarships

A few $10,000 scholarships are offered by College Express, Scholarship Zone and Scholarship Points. These are simple enter your name, cross your fingers and see what happens scholarship lotteries. Some companies also offer hefty scholarships, but usually not as lotteries. These scholarships are usually merit based on academic achievement, leadership abilities at school, awards or honors and volunteer activities. Nordstrom is one such company, among many others.

About the Author

Patricia Gorden NeillPatricia Gorden Neill edited medical and scholarly journals for over 20 years in the ivy-covered halls of the University of Rochester. She is a freelance writer, often covering higher education and the concerns of college age students, and is regularly published on a variety of websites.