An Internet site to be launched today promises to give away $10,000 a day in college scholarship money. No essay required. No nerve-wracking interview. Just the luck of the draw.
The folks at FreeScholarships.com know the sweepstakes may sound too good to be true. But it's the latest of a host of Web sites handing out millions to Web surfers willing to tell marketers about themselves.
The scholarships from the new Cambridge-based company are financed largely by marketers and advertisers who are particularly keen on the teenage and 20-something markets.
And the incentives for coughing up demographic information are great. FreeScholarships plans to award an additional $25,000 every month and $50,000 each quarter, in addition to the daily giveaway of $10,000.
The money is available for college, graduate school, even private school for children. College grads with loans to pay off are also eligible, as are parents planning for future college bills. Winners need only be U.S. citizens over 13.
To ensure the money goes to school and not a new car or vacation, the company will send the check directly to the college, bank or other lending program, said Chuck Digate, the company's founder.
Winners, chosen by a computer-generated random drawing, can win more than once. The odds of hitting the jackpot depend on how many log on.
FreeScholarships is billing itself as unique in a Web world of quick money. Others have offered one-time scholarship sweepstakes _ Embark.com, for example, just wrapped up a promotion with a grand prize of four years' tuition up to $80,000.
FreeScholarships is generating mixed reviews in higher education circles.
Buyer beware, cautioned Timothy McDonough, spokesman for the American Council on Education, a Washington-based higher education trade group. "You're always concerned about the possibility of some kind of scam activity," he said.
Free money on the Web is a booming business. Iwon.com, which offers cash jackpots to Web surfers, is ranked among the 50 most popular sites of the 21,000 sites followed by the Internet survey firm MediaMetrix.
The reality, of course, is most site visitors never win the big bucks. So FreeScholarships also provides tips on financial aid.