How to Avoid Scholarship and Tuition Scams

Avoid Scholarship and Tuition Scams

By: Reyna Gobel MBA, MJ

Phishing scams are nothing new. I’ve reported on them for years. They come in forms for college students and families ranging from scholarships to FAFSA forms.

How do you avoid scams? Follow these tips from the New York State Division of Consumer Protection Issues in addition to tips we’ve gathered over the years.

  • Scholarships and Loan Scams FAFSA is free and will never be sent to you directly. Go to the secure site. If your school is a CSS profile school, you should use this form, too.
  • Fake Private Scholarships, Grants or Loans: No private scholarship, grant, or loan is guaranteed. Thus, never give personal information such as bank account information or your social security number to an unsolicited email. If the scholarship, etc. sounds interesting to you, apply through the real website. Verify that it’s legit with the help of your high school counselor or college financial aid office.
  • Unpaid Tuition Scam: If someone calls you to tell you you need to pay your tuition, go through your school’s online secure account to verify if you do owe a balance. The school website also lists drop dates. Calls may be scams trying to steal your information. The school website isn’t. Remember, the tuition may be unpaid due to financial aid not hitting your account yet. Check with your financial aid office, too, if you panic over an unpaid balance.
  • Fake Employment or Internship Offers: Employment pays you. Don’t listen if internships call or email you asking you for an upfront fee or SSN before applying.
  • Buying Books Online: There are fake websites offering cheap deals on textbooks. Verify sites are legit with your financial aid office if it’s a site you never heard of.

We wish the best for you and your family in getting back to school and finding scholarships and financial aid. The best part for parents who’s students have received a scam call or call email? After the scam is thwarted, it’s good timing to discuss real scholarships and financial aid. Discuss a plan with your student for them to apply for scholarships and financial aid each year. And of course, they should consult their college’s financial aid office.