(Pierre) -Attorney General Mark Barnett is warning high school and college students to be on the lookout for scholarship scams. "Many South Dakota kids need help paying for college. Unfortunately, in their effort to pay tuition, some of those students get ripped off by financial aid and scholarship scams," commented Barnett.
As the scholarship season begins to heat up, Barnett has a few suggestions to help students and their parents avoid being swindled.
Be wary if a scholarship asks for an application fee, even a low one. A $3 charge might not seem like much, but if you take that $3 times 5,000 applicants, someone is getting rich. Legitimate scholarships won’t ask for money.
Advance fee loans are another common scam. These offer unusually low interest college loans, but require you to pay a fee up front. This type of loan never materializes. Real loans deduct fees from the disbursement check. If the loan isn’t coming from a bank or recognized lender, it is probably a scam.
You shouldn’t pay for a list of available scholarships. They are free and can be obtained from your library or school. Companies that offer to "do the work for you" are usually just trying to get your money. Some legitimate companies are out there, but you can almost always find that same information for free.
If you receive a suspicious scholarship offer, contact the South Dakota Attorney General’s Division of Consumer Protection at 1-800-300-1986 or online at http://atg.sd.gov/Consumers.aspx.
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