National Honor Roll Scam – Update

Some months ago, I posted about the National Honor Roll, a stealth marketing scheme disguised as an academic achievement award and scholarship program.

The scheme starts with surveys that our children are asked to complete in the classroom, supposedly for college information. The info then gets shared with the National Honor Roll, the scholarship cover organization, while its partner the Student Marketing Group creates a huge marketing database that they then sell for profit. Read more about it here and here.

If you have any doubt as to the true nature of the National Honor Roll, note this press release below from Nelnet, a publicly-traded student loan finance company:
For Release: 3/29/2005
Contact: Sheila Odom, 402.458.2329

Nelnet announces acquisitions of Student Marketing Group and National Honor Roll

(LINCOLN, NE) – Nelnet, Inc. (NYSE: NNI) announced today it has acquired Student Marketing Group, Inc. and National Honor Roll, L.L.C.

Student Marketing Group is a full service direct marketing agency providing a wide range of products and services to help businesses cost effectively reach the middle school, high school, college bound high school, college, and young adult marketplace. A division of Student Marketing Group, College Bound Selection Service provides marketing services and college bound student lists to college and university admissions offices nationwide. In addition, Student Marketing Group operates, a free scholarship search Web site.

National Honor Roll recognizes middle and high school students for exceptional academic success by providing publication in the National Honor Roll Commemorative Edition, as well as scholarships, a College Admissions Notification Service, and notice to local newspapers and elected officials.

“Student Marketing Group and National Honor Roll each bring a strong reputation and a wealth of different experiences building marketing relationships with students and schools,” said Stephen Butterfield, Vice Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Nelnet. “These acquisitions will further diversify our revenue stream and provide an opportunity to leverage their intellectual capital and wealth of direct marketing expertise in our future operations.”

Category: Considerations

28 Responses to National Honor Roll Scam – Update

  1. Thank you for this. I just found your first post about it by doing a search because my daughter received the offer. What made me curious is that they wanted her grandparents’ addresses to “notify them” of her achievement. Hmm … right.

  2. anonymous: There is a national honor roll. It is a giant mailing list of adolescents who have a B average or greater, and is sold to whoever will buy (mostly those who sell college -related servies, like loans and review courses and advising services and sometimes colleges themselves selling their college to you. But it could really be anyone buying that list – you ahve no control over it.)

    The process of getting into college has become a very big business, and there is lots of money to be made. And it all starts with a mailing list.

  3. i know that NHR is a scam because my “parents” received a letter from NHR about my honor roll selection only it came to my address since I am 24 and NOT in HIGH SCHOOL! Obviously a scam! I never even had a B average in high school. I hardly doubt any information was provided from my high school since I graduated 7 years ago and have moved around since then but I don’t know where they got my information.

  4. Thank you for posting this blog and informing the public of this scam. I recently recieved a letter from the National Honor Roll, which is really odd since im a junior in COLLEGE. Having worked at the admissions office for a while, I know that we just throw unsolicited crap mail from these companies away because they have no meaning. This is obviously a scam. I also love how the National Honor Roll website does not have an email address you can contact them at, they would probably recieve too many complaints…

  5. uh oh! I just filled that thing out last week! I thought it looked a little suspicious but my friends have told me they were selected for it too & they had all of my info., so I just filled it out! What should I do now? They can’t steal my identity can they? Help!

  6. Oh man. I got this letter a few days ago… I filled out all of my information and everything. I was actually planning to pay for a book and everything… but I’m glad that I read this site. I actually had a lot of faith in this program, but then I wondered.
    “So… the paper says that I CAN be inducted into their book… but that’s not a guarantee. It has to be reviewed… So, if I want a book, and I send a check for it, but I’m not accepted… do I get my money back?”
    So I went to their main website, and lookie here. There was no contact area. There was only an e-mail address for questions on the Privacy Policy. Under the link to their privacy policy, I saw this site. So I entered it, and I read nearly every comment. I must say that I am very disappointed. I am a 4.0 GPA student… and to think that I almost fell for this trick.

    But hey, I’ll send in my information. I know now that I won’t purchase the book. 🙂 If telemarketers contact me, I’ll just politely tell them that I’m not interested in it. If it keeps happening, I’ll just hang up on them.
    I don’t mind the spam mail either. My parents and brother get enough of that already.

    Thank you, TBTAM. 😀 Your information was wonderful.

  7. These are all legit points.

    However, the NHR isnt really a scam. It is a real book that you can buy, and there is some academic requirement to get in it.

    The question is simply this:

    Is it worth the money they are asking for. I think no way, but that is each consumers decision to make.

  8. Anyone heard of “All American Scholar”? I’ve never heard of it until today. My niece, a high school student, received a letter explaing how one of her teacher’s nominated her to receive this award. It also mentioned of buying a yearbook with her picture and bio. and an opportunity to receive a scholarship. Should I reply or is this another scam? Please advise.

  9. You have provided a great service by posting info about the National Honor Roll scam. They are still active. My daughter received her congratulatory letter in the mail just yesterday. I intend to forward a link to your site to her school’s guidance couselor and every parent I know!

  10. It is hard to believe that they would get their young minds excited and just let them down this way, My son got the letter today, we were so excited and wanted to find out, to my surprise, this is what we found, he is upset.
    Thank you for the info.

  11. I got mine two weeks ago, but never filled it out. I knew it had to be a scam because they spelled my name wrong, and it just seemed really rediculous. It’s been sitting next to the computer, so I plan to burn it tomorrow.

    I’m glad to stumble here to find out I was correct in thinking it was a scam.

  12. Is this the same thing as the USAA (United States Achievement Academy)? It also wants my grandparents’ addresses. The site is The form says that my achievements and my name will be published in the 2007 National Yearbook and then the form says my information will be sent to the Scholarship Foundation’s selection committee. The founder is Dr. George A. Stevens. Thanks guys for informing me and possibly saving alot of money.

    P.S. It is from Lexington, Kentucky. Should that send up any red flags? :~)

    Vaguely German

    Is this a scam?

  13. Oh, for….

    Don’t I feel stupid now. Unfortunately, I wish I had seen this Way Back in 2005 when I got my letter from the NHR. All my teachers thought it legit, too…ugh. Thankfully, we only got a plaque…but I certainly won’t be putting it on a resume.

    Disgusting, and depressing. These people give kids a great sense of self-esteem. So what happens in my case, when years down the road you learn it was a marketing scam?

    Feelings of complete idiocy.

    Thanks Kirk, though, for enlightening me anyway…and I’ll be sure to warn others as well.

  14. Good thing I read this. It’s too bad I sent information though. Luckily when I paid for it, the check for it bounced. I forgot about it and never sent another one. Then I see this and I’m glad.

    When I told my counselor about this, she didn’t have a clue about what this was. That was one obvious clue.

    Now I know to be careful about things like this.

  15. absolutely unbelievable. I just sent out the letter for the NHR scholarship a day ago… Thank God I did not buy any plaques, books, or any BS like that, so all they got from me is a $3.50… I cannot believe people would stoop so low just to make some money. I’m definately dissapointed, but thank you, better to know the harsh truth then to live in a comforting lie…

  16. With all the current privacy laws how can a minor give permission for them to “sell their info”. My 15 year old can’t even sign forms at her physicians office. If they are under 18 this should be illegal no matter what!!!!

  17. Wow. They actually got my just last year. And I was looking for their site to sign up again when i found this! Then I noticed on the papers that it said they worked with LeadAmerica and I noticed that all the blogs about it on a particular site were all modified on March 15 2005…..hmmmm, sounds suspicious to me. Either way at least I didn’t lose thousands because of it. My aunt who got the book is going to be mad though….well anyways, i’m going to try and see if I can get this in the vacaville reporter so I will definitely mention your site! Thanks for everything!

  18. How do I tell my child now that this whole thing is a scam? She works so hard for her grades, none below 98. I don’t want to upset her thinking that this group is a scam so I will have to hide if from her.

    Thank you for your honesty and your information on the subject.

    A very upset mother of a brilliant young lady….

  19. Thanks for your posting. I remember 20+ yrs ago receiving the same thing when I was in high school. But receiving it today for my daughter, I was indeed upset b/c I did sign the non disclosure statement at my kid’s school in Texas. This year, they are at another school (in Texas) where I suppose their dad was “green” to not exposing student info.

    Keep doing what you do, and keep parents informed.


    • Hi there. I too fell for the NHR scam back in 2004. My parents and I were so proud…how devastating now. I also submitted a poem to back in 2003. They wanted money of course, but I didn’t send any. A couple of years ago, I was on Pinterest reading different love quotes and poems, and guess what?! My poem was on there word for word copy written by another author!!!! How crazy it was for me to see this. My poem, hand written by a 16 year old girl in her room, is now famous…by someone else! I guess I am extremely GULLIBLE!!!

  20. Be wary of any place that wants you to pay for a book that they slap your name in, this kind of reminds me of You submit a poem, and then your poem gets selected (they select everyone’s poems) to be put in a book, which costs 65 dollars or something.

  21. If you go to the BBB the Company is in the business of publishing and selling biographical directories listing students from across the United States in various Academic and extracurriclar activities. That is the business they are in, not in giving scholarships! noware does it say anything about scholarships!

  22. Today I was searching the web for the number for the NHR. Then all of a sudden I bumped into SCAM- NHR! I was very surprised. I will be attending college in 5 months and I was hoping to see if they were going to give me the scholarship money they said they would be providing me with. Seeing this is very upsetting because my mother and I fell for this! I wish we would have taken the time out to get a little more information on this. I am 18 years old and a minority! I was counting on this to help me pay for college! It is very upsetting to see this…

  23. Sadly I OWN a book… with my son’s Photo.. I fell for it because he had been nominated by a teacher upon graduating top of his class in 8th grade and had earned several awards from local scholarship groups in our small town.
    Makes me mad because my youngest, who just graduated from 8th grade, worked his but off to out do and surpass his older brother so he could be in the book too. hahaha I am NOT buying another one.
    Other than being out the $, that I don’t have to lose.. no harm was done. My oldest is starting his 2nd yr at Stanford but I don’t think the listing in this book helped get him in. hahahahah

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