How to Avoid Fraud and Identity Theft when
Applying for Financial Aid
Save Your Money
Don't Pay for Help to Find Money for College
Commercial financial aid advice services can cost well over $1,000. You might have heard or seen these claims at seminars, over the phone from telemarketers, or online:
Try These Free Sources of Information:
Don’t Pay for the FAFSA
Several Web sites offer help filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for a fee. These sites are not affiliated with or endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education. We urge you not to pay these sites for assistance that is provided free elsewhere. The official FAFSA is at www.fafsa.ed.gov, and you can get free help from
If you are asked for your credit card information while filling out the FAFSA online, you are not at the official government site. Remember, the FAFSA site address has .gov in it!
Save Your Identity
Keep Your Information Safe
How Does Identity Theft Happen?
Criminals gain access to personal data such as names, Social Security numbers, and bank and credit card information. Using the stolen data, the criminal can fraudulently obtain credit cards, establish cellular phone accounts, and more.
Reduce Your Risk When Applying for Aid
Report Fraud and Identity Theft
Report Financial Aid Fraud
A company charging for financial aid advice is not committing fraud unless it doesn’t deliver what it promises. For more information about financial aid fraud or to report fraud, call the Federal Trade Commission toll free at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or go to www.ftc.gov/scholarshipscams
Report Identity Theft
If you suspect that your student information has been stolen, it is important to act quickly. These offices will help you determine what steps to take depending on your situation:
U.S. Department of Education
Office of Inspector General Hotline
Complain online: www.ed.gov/misused
Federal Trade Commission
Complain online: www.ftc.gov/idtheft
Many scholarships or scholarship services aren't all they appear to be. Here are three things to watch for when applying for scholarships.
Guaranteed Search Service
Beware of scholarship matching services that guarantee you'll win a scholarship or they'll refund your money.
Scholarships that Never Materialize
Many scams encourage you to send them money up front, but provide little or nothing in exchange. Usually victims write off the expense, thinking that they simply didn't win the scholarship.
This scam offers you an unusually low-interest educational loan, with the requirement that you pay a fee before you receive the loan. When you pay the money, the promised loan never materializes.
For more information on scholarship scans visit the FTC website.