Navigating the world of scholarships can be a challenge.

It’s hard to know where to start and how to find them. Even so, it is an endeavor worth pursuing because they can provide free money to help pay for college.

The main obstacle for students who are looking into scholarships is time — there are so many scholarships and simply not enough time to apply to all of them. It can feel overwhelming. But there is another issue: the myths surrounding scholarships. So if you’re going to invest the time into researching and applying for them, then it helps to be wary of the common misconceptions.

Myth 1: Once You Get a Scholarship, You’re Set

Some scholarships are free money to apply toward your education, and you’re good to go once the check clears — but for recurring scholarships, there may be conditions you must continue to meet each year to remain eligible. “It’s not always the case that it’s one-and-done,” Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, money coach and author of College Secrets, explains on the College Covered podcast.

If you win a recurring scholarship, the funds are not guaranteed every year. It’s important to read the fine print to ensure you remain eligible for your award. Cox says some conditions of scholarships can include continued academic progress, maintaining a certain GPA and community service requirements. Failing to meet the criteria can forfeit your scholarship money for future years. For example, if your grades slip, you could be placed on academic probation, which puts you at risk of losing the scholarship funds. Cox strongly recommends familiarizing yourself with all the terms of the scholarships you earn and asking any questions you may have.

There are many scholarships that don’t even require GPA test scores be submitted.

Myth 2: You Have to Be a Straight-A Student

Looking forward to college but don’t have the best grades? That doesn’t mean you’re ineligible for scholarships. As Cox says on the College Covered podcast, “For students and parents, it’s super important to realize that you don’t have to be the academic stand out who’s a national merit scholar and a straight-A student, nor do you have to be the most dynamic athletic player on the field in order to win college scholarships.” There are many scholarships that don’t even require GPA test scores be submitted.

You can win scholarships for a whole host of reasons, but three categories are particularly important, Cox notes. Yes, one is outstanding academic achievement for A and B students, but you can also earn scholarships for artistic talent — music, visual arts, theater — as well as for community involvement and civic engagement.

Myth 3: Athletics Guarantee a Full Ride

Getting a full athletic scholarship is “the dream of every athlete,” Jon Fugler, author of The Athletic Scholarship Playbook, says on the College Covered podcast. But in reality, those scholarships are rare.

Fugler explains that most athletic scholarships actually aren’t full rides. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) reports that only 2 percent of athletes get some sort of scholarship. While there are certain sports where full tuition is commonly offered, like basketball and Division I football, the others, he says, typically extend partial scholarships. Highly talented athletes can get 70 to 80 percent scholarships, but for most sports, like with baseball, for example, scholarships generally have a limit of 11.7 percent.

Myth 4: You’re More Likely to Win a Scholarship If You Pay a Fee

Sometimes you don’t get what you pay for. Cox says to be wary of scholarships that charge application fees, because you’re no more likely to get a return on that investment than you are by submitting an outstanding essay for a free one.

Cox says that scholarship scams run the gamut. There are “advanced fee scams, where somebody says, ‘Pay $49 for this application,’ and really, it’s just a money grab,” she explains. “It’s just a bid for them to get as many applicants as possible.”

And then “there are some other scams that want you to pay a fee allegedly for help or service in terms of giving you purported aid to fill out a scholarship application,” she adds. “They’ll say something like, ‘$199 service fee and you’re guaranteed to win this scholarship,’ when obviously it couldn’t be further from the truth.”

If you’re in the process of applying for scholarships, separating fact from fiction is essential. For more tips from these experts on how to be proactive and increase your chances to win scholarships as well as more red flags and how to avoid them, tune in to the How Do I Get Scholarships? episode of the College Covered podcast.