Home > Pennsylvania, Warminster > Local State Rep. Warns of Suspicious Student Financial Aid Offers

Local State Rep. Warns of Suspicious Student Financial Aid Offers

February 24, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

By Tom Sofield
Editor – (tsofield@buxmontnews.com)

Warminster based, State Representative Bernie O’Neill (R) along with the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) are cautioning local students along with their families about potentially fraudulent financial aid offers, according to a release O’Neill’s website.

According to the release, local students and families may be contact by organizations offering, for a cost,  help securing scholarship money or in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

A number of these organizations are legitimate while others are not, but families should remember that free resources are available to provide them with the assistance they need, said the release.

The Federal Trade Commission warns that the guarantee” or “promise” scholarships for students should be a warning sign it is a scam, stated the release.

Here are some pitches that a scammer might tell students or families, according to O’Neill’s website:

  • For a fee, the company or organization will provide a list of scholarship opportunities.  If a student does not receive a reward and seeks a refund, they soon find that conditions have been attached to the agreement to make it impossible to get the refund.  A request for a refund is denied and the student is out the money.
  • Companies may claim that their information is simply not available anywhere else.  However, much of the information they use can be accessed for free.  PHEAA’s EducationPlanner.org offers a free scholarship database.
  • Some organizations persuade students and their families to send them money to “hold” an award, claiming that students are finalists in a scholarship contest.  However, scholarships are only awarded based on a student’s application.
  • Organizations that have official sounding names, fancy seals, and a Washington, D.C., mailing address can give families the impression the organization is affiliated with or endorsed by the federal government, when, in fact, no association exists.
  • Free scholarship or “financial planning” seminars can frequently end with a sales pitch to “act now or lose out on this opportunity” for a fee.  Any legitimate organization or entity will not use pressure or scare tactics.

O’Neill’s website states, students who are interested in applying for scholarships and other financial aid should contact their school counselor for assistance.

Families are encouraged to report suspected scams by contacting the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.

Categories: Pennsylvania, Warminster Tags: , ,
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