Warning: Preparing to Submit FAFSA Forms this Year? State Attorney General has Critical Info for Students
By Connect-Bridgeport Staff on October 12, 2021
Students are encouraged not to overlook the word “free” as they prepare to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a necessary part of qualifying for financial assistance. However, it is important for students to protect their personal, identifiable information during the application process to avoid potential scams or identity theft.
The Attorney General reminds students and parents that FAFSA administrators do not charge a fee associated with the student’s application. That means anyone considering the use of a fee-based entity should carefully review the benefits and services offered, including data security.
“In our office we always use caution with the word ‘free,’ but there are federal forms that actually put you in a good position to get access to scholarship money or to college expenses — and it’s free of charge,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “At the same time, you also need to be wary of some third-party sites or entities that may ask for money or personal information during the application process. It may be a scam.”
The FAFSA application period for the 2022-2023 school year opened Oct. 1. Students should file their application as soon as possible as some financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
Applicants choosing to work with a third-party entity should verify the validity of any recipient to avoid compromising sensitive information, such as Social Security or Federal Student Aid identification numbers and other personally identifiable data. This will guard against scammers who may use a fake seal and other tools to pose as a government official.
For instance, the FSA ID gives students access to online services and can serve as a legal signature.
Every student, even those who think they may not qualify for federal grants, should apply. Many colleges and states use FAFSA forms to award other grants and scholarships.
Consumers with questions about a potential financial aid scam can 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.