Pell Grants as a recruitment tool… I “prequalify” for $5,550!

Email to generate leads with Pell Grant money

When concern about the cost of a college degree is high and growing, what better way to generate enrollment leads than a series of emails to let people know that they “prequalify” for a $5,550 Pell Grant.

And why worry in advance about whether or not a person’s income or level of degree interest makes them likely candidates for a Pell Grant? The important thing? Get a response to the email. Sort the details later.
If at first you don’t succeed, send the email again
In the past few days I have received three nearly identical emails from CompareTopSchools with these subject lines:
  • “Deadline Soon: Get a $5,550 Pell Grant. You Prequalify!” (December 14)
  • “Your $5,550 Pell Grant. You Prequalify!” (December 16)
  • “Your $5,550 Pell Grant. You Prequalify!” (December 19)
Two of these were retrieved from the Yahoo spam bucket. One made it to my regular email.
Here is the content in the first email opened:

Dear Yahoo! Mail Usēr:

The US Governmënt gives out MILLIÒNS of Dȯllars worth ǒf $5,550 Pell Grants 

each year. The Ɓest Part: You never have to pay them back!


Don’t mĭss out on this AMAZING opportunity to ĩmprove your way of life! 

You are urgȩd to apply TOĐAY as there are a limited numbér 

of $5,550 Ğrants giύen out each ȳear.

Follow the link “to apply” and you’ll see the names of six schools participating in this lead gen effort:

    • American Intercontinental University
    • Westwood College
    • Colorado Christian University
    • Liberty University
    • ITT Technical Institute
    • Virginia College
10 questions about my plans
What follows are 10 questions (but nothing about income level re probable Pell Grant eligibility) to learn more about me:
    • zip code (49068)
    • academic program interest area (marketing & communications)
    • age (26)
    • year of high school graduation or GED receipt (2006)
    • highest level of education (bachelor’s)
    • degree level desired (master’s degree)
    • were any of the credits earned outside the U.S. (no)
    • how many months from now do I plan to enroll (4 to 6)
    • am I a U.S. citizen (yes)
    • am I “affiliated” with the U.S. military (no)
    • name, mailing and email addresses, preferred phone number(s)

Having answered those questions, I can now see the promised four institutions that might be good for me:

  • California InterContinental University (Top Ranked for Best Value)
  • Lasell College (Top Ranked for Best Academics)
  • Baker College Online
  • St. Leo University Online
Along with the four school choices comes a can’t miss notice that the “editors” recommend California InterContinental as my “best choice.”
Is this a legitimate recruiting technique?
Legit lead generation strategy? Well, it isn’t illegal. But note that after the initial Pell Grant exhortation to “apply today” for the “limited number” available, that topic vanishes. Will the schools know that I’m interested in that $5,550 of free Pell Grant money to help pay for my master’s degree? Are they ready to offer an alternative source of aid?
Very few people get a Pell Grant to study for a master’s degree. Nobody gets them if they are not a current undergrad student applying for a master’s that leads to teaching as the Student Grants website explains. Details, details. 
That’s all for now.

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