Honor societies and scholarship opportunities may have fees attached

Student questions HonorSociety.org invite

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -  Lauren Hammond is carrying a heavy financial load. Student loans help, but she's always looking for scholarships to save even more.

An email congratulating her on academic success at Palm Beach State College caught her attention.

"I thought since it had my school's name on it it might be legitimate," Hammond explained.

The email urged Hammond to activate her membership by the deadline to access freebies.

"Exclusive scholarship listings. Free foreign language classes," Hammond explained.

To activate her membership, Hammond had to pay $50.

"I thought it was legitimate because it was dot org," Hammond said.

We found the Association of College Honor Societies issued an alert about the site because it's not transparent to the public. The site said the bylaws, national headquarters and staff are not listed online.

Several colleges have also issued warnings.

We tried to get answers about HonorSociety.org and the services provided. Our multiple phone calls and emails were not returned.

We asked Joseph Bryan, Director of Financial Aid at Palm Beach Atlantic University, to look at the website.

"They do offer a service. They do have some basic scholarship opportunities they are referencing, but this is information a student or family could potentially have access to without using their particular website," Bryan explained.

Bryan suggests students use free, local resources first.

Talk to your school, the Community Foundation in Palm Beach and Martin counties, or FinAid for national opportunities.

"I really don't think you should have to pay for it," Hammond said.

Hammond was also curious about how the company got her email address. It's public record in Florida, although Palm Beach State said it did not give out the information.

Bryan said standardized testing services like the SAT are often the other source. He suggests setting up a second email account to filter all these pitches.

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