Protecting your privacy when applying for financial aid
Protecting your privacy online is a hot topic these days. It is more important than ever before to safeguard your personal information while using social websites to prevent your information from being sold and then eventually used against you.
When applying for financial aid, you’re already providing your most private information possible in order for your eligibility to be calculated. You have to provide your name, social security number, date of birth, and tax information to get your aid eligibility calculation.
To ensure the safety and privacy of your information you will have to make sure you are paying close attention to the websites you are using and these tips we can help you with to remind yourself on how to check if a website is legitimate or not.
- Never pay to fill out a financial aid application. The first “F” in FAFSA stands for “Free” so if an application is asking for a payment to help you fill out your FAFSA then they’re not a legitimate site.
- Use the website links provided by the school in their financial aid materials. If you look up the website there is a greater chance that an invalid site can appear in your search results amongst the valid sites. Always check for .gov or .org websites for applying for financial aid.
- Know what you’re applying for. The FAFSA is the application for grants and student loans. PA residents can apply for the PHEAA State Grant program via the FAFSA. For each type of awards, eligibility standards must be met. A ‘scam’ would be a response telling you that you’ve “won” a grant and must provide additional information or make a payment in order to receive it. On occasion, the Department of Education would require additional information to be submitted but that is limited to tax info, household size and prior school information.
- Never give out your FSA ID and Password. Your financial aid information is protected online by your FSA ID and Password. If you lose or forget your username and password you can retrieve them by having secure codes either texted or emailed to you or by answering challenge questions.
- If in doubt, contact your school’s financial aid office. You can get your questions answered and even complete the requested forms there to ensure you’re filling out the correct paperwork. A good financial aid office will direct you to the correct websites and forms regardless if you’ve enrolled at their school or not.
For Douglas Education Center students remember to renew your FAFSA each year if you are attending the Summer semester and beyond at www.fafsa.ed.gov. You can check on your loan information on www.nslds.gov and general federal financial aid information at www.fsaid.ed.gov.
For PA residents attending Douglas Education Center remember to complete your PHEAA Summer Application each April by applying online at loginsuccess.summergrants.
If you have any questions on your financial aid eligibility or want to make sure you have the correct information just visit the financial aid office or contact Kim Myers at 724-653-2197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.