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Scholarship and Financial Aid Scams

As college costs continue to rise, students increasingly find themselves searching for scholarships and financial aid. Through high pressure sales seminars and other methods, some unscrupulous companies purport to guarantee or promise scholarships, grants and other financial aid for a fee, but deliver little or none of the promised assistance. The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office has filed lawsuits against several such companies.

Students and their families should watch out for the following tactics and claims:

If you attend a seminar for scholarships or financial aid, the Attorney General’s Office encourages you to follow the below tips:

Online offers for high school or GED degrees for a fee are also scams and can affect your ability to enroll in college and/or to obtain financial aid. GED tests can only be administered by official GED testing centers. The General Educational Development Testing Service can provide additional information about these offers. You may contact the GED Testing Service as follows:

General Educational Development Testing Service
American Council on Education
1 Dupont Circle NW Washington, DC 20036
(202) 939-9300
www.acenet.edu external link icon

The Federal Trade Commission works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace. It also provides information on scholarship scams as well as legitimate student aid and can be contacted as follows:

Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
(202) 326-2222 or (877) 382-4357
www.ftc.gov/scholarshipscams external link icon

The United States Department of Education provides a free student guide to federal financial aid. If you would like to obtain the guide or another publication from the Department, it may be contacted as follows:

United States Department of Education
Federal Student Aid Information Center
P.O. Box 84
Washington, DC 20044
(800) 433-3243
TTY: (800) 730-8913
www.studentaid.ed.gov/sa/resourcesexternal link icon

In addition, the Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE) provides information  to students concerning financial aid, and can be reached as follows:

Minnesota Office of Higher Education
1450 Energy Park Drive, Suite 350
St. Paul, MN 55108
(651) 642-0567 or (800) 657-3866
www.ohe.state.mn.usexternal link icon

If you would like to obtain further information or make a complaint about a particular company, the Attorney General’s Office can be reached as follows:

Office of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson
445 Minnesota Street, Suite 1400
St. Paul, MN 55101
(651) 296-3353 (Twin Cities Calling Area)
(800) 657-3787 (Outside the Twin Cities)
TTY: (651) 297-7206 or TTY: (800) 366-4812

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