Weekly AG Newspaper Columns
Beware of Scholarship Scams
Beware of Scholarship Scams
By Greg Abbott
Attorney General of Texas
The price of a college education has increased drastically in recent years. Tuition, books and living expenses
are at all time highs.
Naturally, parents and students have been looking for creative ways to find the financial
resources to fund a college education. Unfortunately, these quests for financial assistance have given rise to
opportunities for scam artists to prey on parents and students.
My office receives numerous complaints from consumers being scammed by individuals and companies selling
scholarship and financial aid services. The last thing you need is to lose what money you do have in savings for
college to a phony scholarship opportunity.
Most recently we received word from several consumers who each paid $1000 to a company called the College Funding
Center that promised to help find scholarship opportunities. The company went out of business and consumers
received absolutely nothing for their money. The Federal Trade Commission has taken legal action against this
Consumers should use extreme caution when considering a company that offers scholarship-finding services or
financial aid loans. Be wary if you encounter promises like this:
• "The scholarship is guaranteed!"
• "You can't get this information anywhere else!"
Or worst of all:
• "I need your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship."
There are no guaranteed scholarships. Each year, hundreds and even thousands of students apply for the same
scholarships. While you may very well be a strong candidate for a scholarship, don't believe anyone who makes
Claims to have special hard-to-get insider information on scholarships are usually false, too. A
company may have a database or list of scholarships and grants that it has compiled. But this is information
gathered through research, not because it has special access to information not available to other
A college education is too important to risk being taken advantage of by unscrupulous businesses or individuals.
Giving out personal information such as credit card or bank account numbers to unknown or questionable businesses
is never a good idea. Anytime anyone asks for sensitive financial information, you should remember that in this day
and age, identity crime is a constant threat.
Some companies may offer financial aid loans for a fee paid in advance. The fee may range from hundreds to thousands of
dollars. If someone guarantees or strongly suggests that they can get a loan or credit for you, it's against the
law for them to request or accept payment until you actually get the loan or credit.
Be aware that there are entirely bogus companies that will collect a fee up front and then simply abscond with your
money. Legitimate lenders never guarantee or say that you are likely to get a loan or credit card before reviewing
If you attend a seminar on scholarships or financial aid, take your time and don't fall for high pressure sales
tactics. Research the company and thoroughly investigate "success stories." Contact an actual former customer
if possible. Don't purchase from anyone who is reluctant to answer questions. Ask how much money will be charged
for the service and ask about refunds.
POINTS TO REMEMBER
SCHOLARSHIPS & FINANCIAL AID
Beware of any scholarship loan or financial aid company that:
• Guarantees a scholarship
• Tries to charge an advance fee
• Asks for your credit card or bank account number
For information and assistance:
College Parents of America
To find out if a business is registered:
The Office of the Secretary of State
To research or file a complaint:
The Office of the Attorney General
File a consumer complaint:
The Federal Trade Commission
Information on this and other topics is available on the Attorney General's Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us.