HARRISBURG – Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane has offered guidance to parents and students regarding scholarships and financial aid for higher education.
With the increasing cost of college tuition and living expenses, students are looking for resourceful ways to subsidize their education. Increasingly, many are becoming victims of financial aid and scholarship scams.
“Students may find it difficult to distinguish between authentic scholarship offers and fraudulent ones,” Kane said. “Families seeking assistance for higher education funding must exercise caution when providing personal financial information.”
Kane encouraged students and families to watch for these scholarship scams:
Pay Up Front
If you receive a scholarship offer that requires an upfront processing or application fee, it is most likely a scam. Although these offers are frequently accompanied by a money back guarantee, victims are usually unable to recoup their money.
First Come, First Served Scholarships
These scholarship offers are usually unsolicited and encourage students to act quickly in order to secure their funding. Typically, the company has no scholarship money to offer and is primarily interested in collecting personal financial information.
A scholarship seminar, advertised as providing valuable information regarding the financial aid process, may actually be a high pressure sales pitch designed to dupe you into purchasing a scholarship matching service or financial product. The scholarship matching service may promise a refund if no financial aid is received, however, that money is rarely returned.
Kane urged Commonwealth residents to employ the following strategies when searching for financial assistance for college education :
- Never pay a fee for a scholarship or financial aid application.
- Secure your personal information and provide it only to verified and reputable organizations that provide legitimate scholarship opportunities.
- Work with your guidance counselor or college financial aid office to determine valid sources of financial aid.
- Utilize the information provided atgov, the Education Department’s website for sources of higher education funding.
- Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online for free atgov or call 1-800-4-FED-AID for assistance.
Consumers who suspect they may have been a victim of a scholarship or financial aid scam should contact the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection at 1-800-441-2555 or visit www.attorneygeneral.gov to file a complaint.