In this age of global reporting there is very little information that does not get passed around. We are told about all types of dangers and we are told to stay “on guard.”
The problem that we all face is that there is so much information it is impossible to remember everything all the time. That is why at certain times we let our guard down and that is when we get hurt. It happens at times we are vulnerable such as applying for financial aid.
There are certain things you must be aware of when applying for financial aid.
For services that offer help finding money for a fee you should never give out credit card number or bank account number because there is a risk of identity theft.
Further always be wary of companies who “guarantee” money because they can pay a small amount fulfilling their promise after charging you much more than the guarantee.
Do not pay for help filling out FAFSA. (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
Either call the college financial aid office for help or call 1-800-4-FED-AID for help. Once again never part with any financial information.
It is important to understand that the FAFSA form is the cornerstone on which financial aid is built. It offers certain aids and points to other “planks” in developing your college payment plan.
For example you may get a certain amount from federal aid, a certain amount from Pell Grants and some from MAP programs. Then adding to that you may be eligible for some type of scholarship. You may then decide to get a student loan. Student loans do not have to be paid back until after you graduate.
Finally you may be able to work out a minimal part-time job with the school.
Keep in mind however this all starts with FAFSA.
The complete way to protect yourself is to get a pin number when you apply so this is the method by which you communicate. Keep it secret.
Keep a comprehensive record of what you’ve applied for and the dates and make sure the college is being kept informed.
Always be well aware of the policies of any institution that you get a loan from or do any financial dealings with for that matter.
After you have done anything online with respect to FAFSA or any other program for college finances, make sure and close the browser right away so that the cookies are disabled.
Getting into college is one of the most important things we all do. It is terrible if someone is forced to start life with their identity stolen.
“Save Your Money, Save Your Identity,” Brochure, 2008, Federal Student Aid
Federal Student Aid Information Center, 1-800-433-3243