Students stung by scholarship scams

As if having to worry about financing college wasn't difficult enough, now parents and students are being cautioned to look out for sholarship scams.

Scholarship and financial-aid offers that arrive in your mailbox or via the Web may be the tools of con artists, according to the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection and a group called College Parents of America (CPA). According to the FTC, unscrupulous companies guarantee or promise scholarships, grants or fantastic financial aid packages in hopes of recieving up-front fees. Afterward, they deliver little or nothing.

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators estimates that more than 350,000 people are duped by aid scams each year, losing some $5 million.

CPA provides tips students and parents can follow while attending scholarship seminars or browsing the Internet:

*Avoid high-pressure sales pitches that require you to buy now or risk losing the opportunity.

*Talk to a guidance counselor or financial aid officer before buying.

*Be wary of "success stories." Ask for a list of local families who have used their service recently.

*Get information in writing and read any refund policy carefully.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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