What's the deal with the United States Achievement Academy?

A friend of mine is very excited because she just learned that she is a recipient of this award, and could possibly win a college scholarship. Upon hearing the details, (they sell these “yearbooks” and then send you an application for the scholarship when you order one.

A couple of us expressed reservations, and I wondered if anyone here knew about it-I figured if anyone could answer this, the Dopers could.

Here is their website.

Scam. You don’t pay money for scholarship applications.

This appears to be a modern version of an ancient and very effective scam. The yearbook consists of all the people who pay to be in the yearbook, and maybe even order additional copies to hand out to their relatives. That’s it.

The site does list scholarship recipients but of course gives no information on how much money any of them received (the site says up to $1500, which could mean $50), what percent of the applicants received scholarships (obviously low, if they gave out 200 or so but received nominations from over 20,000 institutions for presumably many times that number of students), or whether any additional requirements must be met before the scholarship is given out. They also give out scholarships to seventh graders, which I find odd.

Unlike a pure scam, they do appear to give out $200,000 a year, but if just one student per institution was sucker enough to order the yearbook - which probably costs a bunch 'o money - then that would be petty cash to keep hopes alive.

Unless you hear from someone who can truly vouch for this site, I would be very leery about having anything to do with it.

If these posts do not convince your friend of the scamminess of the organization, have her call the sudent aid or scholarship office of a university. They seem to carry large databases of scholarships, and they could tell her if it is among those offered.

I agree, although I don’t necessarily know if this by itself makes it a scam. It’s a business model that seems to have been consistently succesful. My 9-year old daughter recently submitted her poem to a “poetry contest.” Of course, her poem was selected as one of the winners to be published, and we could buy the book for $40. I suspect that everybody’s book is the same except for one page with their poem.

They used to be called “Who’s who of…” This could be filled with highschool grads, freshmen, businessmen, whatever. Generally they will list your name no matter what you do. If, however, you fall for it and give them money then they will include a bio and picture. Remember, there is absolutely no honor in being picked for these. I must have had a dozen of them offerred to me.

anson2995, It would be way too expensive to print up separate books for just one page. They wait until they have enough suckers, er, clients to make up a book and then send it out.

It is a scam because there is no contest and there is no prize and there are no winners. All they are interested in is collecting a $40 printing fee. You do get a book back, filled with poems from other people who have paid $40 to be in the book. But nobody has won anything.

A real contest has judges and losers. Lacking those, all that is left is a scam to take your money and leave you feeling good. No different from the $35 “we’ll name a star after you” registry. This is a somewhat better business model than the we’ll take your money and skip town scam, but the differences are minor.

Not to mention that if you don’t order the book, your poem will NOT be published. And I’ve heard it’s just a bunch of photocopied pages stapled together.

I actually worked for the USAA in 1982 for a month, until I was struck with a case of conscience and morality. I challenged the director/founder/owner, George Stevens, about the legitimacy of this organization. As far as I could see, he created a bogus “honorary” award, claiming to have the status of the “who’s who”. I told him that I felt he was taking advantage of people who couldn’t afford it, and was preying upon the parents of students who might never have the chance to be included in a “nationally published directory”. And then I quit.

Anyone can be “nominated” by a teacher/counselor/coach in any category. Thus all students everywhere are qualified for this “honor”. The nominees are automatically accepted and can send in their biography for inclusion in the USAA yearbook at no cost. But if you wanted your picture in the book, you had to pay a fee and to purchase the book was about $80 back then.

And if I remember correctly, none of our local schools were allowed to participate - because of the school board rules, trying to protect the students and parents from this fraud.

I believe that USAA began giving out scholarships after Dr. Stevens left the organization. So while they still operate the yearbook - they give a tiny bit back. I know a girl who still works there and says that they sell between 1 and 1.5 million books each year.

And for an extra $200 they’ll name a star after you. :smiley: