W.Va. AG Urges Financial Aid Seekers to Protect Information

CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey urges students seeking further education to protect personal information when preparing to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Students are encouraged not to overlook the word “free” as they prepare to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a necessary part of qualifying for financial assistance.

The Attorney General reminds students and parents that FAFSA administrators do not charge a fee associated with the student’s application. That means anyone considering use of a fee-based entity should carefully review the benefits and services offered, including data security.

“Now is the time of year that many students are applying for financial aid, but it’s important to pay attention to the application process,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “There is free, federal financial aid available. Beware of any third-party entity that may ask for money or personal information during the application process — it may be a scam.”

The FAFSA application period for the 2021-2022 school year opened Oct. 1. Students should file their application as soon as possible for state, college and scholarship programs that award aid on a first-come, first-served basis.

Applicants choosing to work with a third-party entity should verify the validity of any recipient to avoid compromising sensitive information, such as Social Security or Federal Student Aid identification numbers and other personally identifiable data. This will guard against scammers who may use a fake seal and other tools to pose as a government official.

For instance, the FSA ID gives students access to online services and can serve as a legal signature.

Every student, even those who think they may not qualify for federal grants, should apply. Many colleges and states use FAFSA forms to award other grants and scholarships.

Consumers with questions about a potential financial aid scam can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov.

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