As students look for ways of helping meet their financial obligations with rising tuition costs, they need to be cautious of scholarship and financial aid scams. Some of these scams include guaranteeing students award money and often require paying a fee to apply for financial aid. Below are some key words that should raise red flags as to the legitimacy of an offer:
• The scholarship is guaranteed or your money back."
• "You can't get this information anywhere else."
• "I just need your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship."
• "We'll do all the work. You just pay a processing fee."
• "The scholarship will cost some money."
• "You've been selected" by a "national foundation" to receive a scholarship – or "You're a finalist" in a contest you never entered.
The only application that will determine eligibility for all financial aid programs is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You can complete the FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov and learn about other FAFSA filing options at www.fafsa.ed.gov/options.htm. You also can call 1-800-4-FED-AID.