College Grant Scam Ads Put Chicago Students in Debt

Wouldn't it be great if the government paid you to go to school? Maybe that's why a growing number of Americans are falling for college scholarship scams.

Chances are you've noticed the online advertisements claiming the government is giving grants to folks who earn less than a certain amount every year, to stay-at-home moms, to job seekers- by the looks of it, to just about everyone. Or maybe you've received a phone call or e-mail from someone claiming to work for the Department of Education - and who's willing to replace your existing student loans with government grants. If so, be wary.

Sure, the idea of free money might sound tempting, but are you willing to risk your financial solvency for it? Upwards of 350,000 people fall for scholarship scams every year, costing Americans $5 million, according to You're not going to save money by forking it over to scam artists. However, you can save money by using common sense.

First, realize that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If all you had to do to qualify for Uncle Sam's money is fill out an online application and pay a fee, everyone would be receiving scholarships right now. The federal government would be even more in debt than it's in already.

Furthermore, scholarships are typically earned based on past academic or athletic performance, not answers to a few questions in an online survey. And most scholarships won't require an application fee - if you're asked for money upfront, it's usually a dead giveaway. When someone wants payment right off the bat, how do you know they won't take your money and run?

Still wondering whether a scholarship program is valid or not? Research scholarship offers online, check up on any scholarship search engines with the Better Business Bureau and, if you think you may have stumbled upon a scam, alert your bank and credit card company, not to mention the Federal Trade Commission.

Just like work-from-home scams or tax scams, scholarship scams take advantage of your financial desperation to make a quick buck. Rather than put yourself at risk of losing more money, why not find a permanent, safe way to increase your income? Lowering or eliminating debts via bankruptcy will reduce your balance and interest liability, freeing up more of each paycheck. Have questions about bankruptcy? It's easy - and free - to learn more when you sign up for a complimentaryone-on-one debt analysis with a Chicago bankruptcy attorney.

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