This post was last updated on September 7th, 2016 at 08:24 pm

Avoiding Scams

avoid scholarship scamsFinancial aid scams are a hot topic these days. You should be aware of the tactics companies use to convince students to buy their services. Here are some of the most common claims students are hearing:

“If you use our services, you’re guaranteed to get at least $5,500 in student aid for college, or we’ll give you your money back.” This claim doesn’t mean anything. Most students are eligible for at least $5,500 in unsubsidized student loans anyway – and because a student loan is considered student aid, you won’t be able to ask for a refund if that’s all you’re offered. No one can guarantee to get you a grant or scholarship. Remember, too, that refund
guarantees often have conditions or strings attached. Get refund policies in writing.

“Applying for aid is complicated. We’re the only ones who can help you through the process and find all the aid for which you’re eligible.” Unlikely. There are many places to get free help applying for student aid. Check with your school counselor or college financial aid office for help filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Your school or college can also help you find scholarships.

“I’d like to offer you a scholarship or grant. All I need is your bank account information so the money can be deposited and a processing fee charged.” Watch out! It’s extremely rare for a legitimate organization to charge a processing fee for a scholarship. Some criminals imitate legitimate foundations, federal agencies, and corporations. They might even have official sounding names to fool students. Don’t give anyone your bank account or credit card information or your Social Security Number (SSN) unless you initiated the contact and trust the company. For more information on spotting potential fraud and preventing identity theft, visit www.studentaid.ed.gov/types/scams.