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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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New Mexico State University cautions against scholarship scams

The New Mexico State University Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarship Services is issuing a word to the wise this semester: Don't be taken in by organizations promising to find you scholarship money, but only for a price.

runer, director of the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarship Services at the university, said many families have complained about being approached by companies claiming they can find scholarship money for students if they are paid a certain fee.

"The federal government has really tried to let people know that you shouldn't have to pay any money to a company for that service," Bruner said.

The U.S. Department of Education estimates that families lose millions of dollars to scholarship fraud each year.

The Federal Trade Commission cautions students to look for six telltale lines indicating the scholarship service may be a scam:

--"The scholarship is guaranteed or your money back."

--"You can't get this information anywhere else."

--"I just need your credit card number or bank account number to hold this scholarship."

--"We'll do all the work."

--"The scholarship will cost some money."

--"You've been selected by a 'national foundation' to receive a scholarship " or "You're a finalist" in a contest you never entered.

Students can find free information about scholarships from high school counselors or reputable Web sites. Free scholarship search engines include www.fastweb.com, www.freschinfo.com, www.scholarship-page.com, www.collegenet.com, www.gocollege.com, www.theoldschool.org, www.srnexpress.com, www.wiredscholar.com, www.finaid.org/scholarships, and www.plato.org.

Anyone who is contacted by a private scholarship search service may check its reputation by contacting the Better Business Bureau or a state attorney general's office. Anyone who suspects that a scholarship offer may be a scam can report it to the National Fraud Information Center at (800) 876-7060 or by e-mail at SCAMS-L@finaid.org.

The Office of Student Financial Aid will be holding workshops in Las Cruces high schools during January and February to educate students on the scholarship and financial aid process.

For more information, call the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarship Services toll-free at (877) 278-8586.

Erin Waldron
Jan. 16, 2002