CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey reminds students with plans to attend college to safeguard their personal information as they apply for financial aid.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), necessary to qualify for financial aid, requires students to provide a vast quantity of personal information. Scammers recognize that reality and look for ways to take advantage of the situation.
“Scammers may take advantage of the personal information required to apply for financial aid,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “That’s why it is so important for students to protect themselves as they look to continue their education in hopes to advance learning and future career opportunities.”
Students should file their FAFSA application as soon as possible for states, colleges and scholarship programs that award aid on a first-come, first-serve basis.
To avoid compromising sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers and other personally identifiable data, applicants should verify the validity of the recipient, especially since scammers can use a fake seal and other tools to pose as a government official.
Students should never share their Federal Student Aid identification number. The FSA ID gives students access to Federal Student Aid’s online services and can serve as a legal signature.
Applicants also should not overlook the word “free.” While some agencies or companies may charge to fill out the required paperwork, applicants should remember they can do it themselves at no cost.
West Virginia students have until spring to apply for state aid. Specifically, the Promise Scholarship deadline expires March 1, and the state’s Higher Education Grant Program deadline expires April 15.
Students will need to use 2017 tax information to complete the 2019-20 form.
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.