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State Attorney General Warns Students, Parents to Exercise Caution with Scholarships, Student Aid

By Connect-Bridgeport Staff on August 16, 2019 via Connect-Bridgeport.com

FROM THE OFFICE OF THE STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL
 
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey reminds students and parents to be careful about sharing personal information when applying for student aid and scholarship opportunities. 
 
Many high school seniors and college students rely on some form of financial aid to assist with the ever-increasing cost of tuition and other college-related financial obligations, making them a potential target for con artists.
 
“Many students seek scholarships to cover tuition and offset any student debt,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “When applying for scholarships, parents and students need to be mindful of who they are sending personal information to and be on the lookout for red flags.”
 
A popular scam involves websites charging a fee while claiming or guaranteeing to find scholarships.
 
However, free websites and online databases do exist. Students should go directly to legitimate websites and be cautious of links from advertisements, which may take them to a different website than intended.
 
Students should research scholarships before applying to verify the legitimacy of the scholarship and talk to a guidance counselor or academic advisor. Also, it is important to know the specific terms or conditions of any scholarship or financial assistance before accepting.
 
When searching for student loans, students should be aware that legitimate loan servicing companies do not charge upfront fees. 
 
Scammers may also call current and former students who have taken out loans to inform the students they will be enrolled in a payment reduction program with a low or zero percent interest rate. However, the student is never enrolled in any program and the monthly payment is never applied to student loan debt. In some cases, the debt even is higher than before making payments through the alleged debt reduction program. 
 
Scammers may also tell students a large or one-time payment will repair their credit score and that fee is charged on top of the alleged credit repair service.
 
Students should also fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) annually to receive federal and West Virginia aid. For information visit www.cfwv.com.  
 
The Attorney General’s Office issues this advice as part of the sixth annual Off to College Consumer Protection Week.  To learn about consumer protection efforts in West Virginia, visit www.ago.wv.gov/consumerprotection. 
 
Anyone with questions should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov.
 



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