Every Fall, high school seniors and their parents delve into the confusing world of financial aid.
Why do you need to give them your taxes? And your social security number? Is it safe?
Keep reading to learn more about if the FAFSA is safe and common financial aid scams.
What Is The FAFSA?
The FAFSA stands for the Free Application For Federal Student Aid. It is a government form that allows students to apply for federal student aid, such as federal grants, work-study, and loans.
Many states and colleges use the information you provide to the FAFSA to determine your eligibility for state and school aid. Some private schools use the FAFSA to determine if you qualify for aid.
If you plan to attend college next year, you should fill out the FAFSA.
Is The FAFSA Safe?
In short, yes, the FAFSA is safe. Many parents and students feel apprehensive about providing such personal information over the internet, but it is a safe and legitimate form that the government oversees.
Financial Aid Scams
Unfortunately, many malicious actors and websites are out there to target your and your family’s information and money.
Below are some financial aid scams detailed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
FAFSA Service Scams
Some companies promise they could make you eligible for more financial aid if you use their service. That way, you save more on college tuition.
However, what these companies do is handle your paperwork for the FAFSA. They will lie on the form to claim that your family has less income, assets, and benefits to qualify you for more financial aid.
On top of losing money to these scammers, you could also face serious consequences. These include fines up to $20,000 and/or jail time.
Only the student and his or her family can fill out the FAFSA. Remember, the FAFSA is always free to fill out and submit.
Never share your FSA ID (the username and password used to apply for the FAFSA) with anyone except perhaps the colleges you are applying to. However, if you must provide this information, do so through their application portal.
You should keep your FSA ID secure because malicious actors could use that login information to access your most sensitive information.
You should never pay to apply for a scholarship. Some scammers may disguise this as a “processing cost,” “redemption fee,” or other upfront payment.
However, once you pay, you never receive any money back. If a scholarship you never applied to tells you that you’ve been “selected,” that is also a red flag.
Never send information or financial details like your credit card number to “confirm eligibility.” The scholarship should tell you the eligibility requirements upfront or have them available publicly.
Stay Safe With Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity practices like using strong passwords to protect your FAFSA information and never giving out personal information only go so far if you don’t use them harmoniously.
Agency, a cybersecurity company, offers comprehensive, business-level cybersecurity that prevents, monitors, and mediates problems if they arise. Be protected by a team of cybersecurity experts that monitor and respond against cyber threats 24/7.
Agency’s plan includes:
- Next Gen Antivirus/EDR
- Active Dark Web Monitoring
- Personal Information Removal
- Personal Cyber Coverage
- ID Theft Coverage
- Active Security Monitoring & Response by US Pros
Cybersecurity attack vectors target every individual connected to technology, and it’s advisable to guard yourself and your information against malicious actors.