Applying for scholarships or bursaries? BBB’s got you covered with post-secondary financial aid tips

January 23, 2014

January 23, 2014 – CALGARY, ALBERTA – Congratulations! You’ve been accepted into university, but you may be wondering how you’re going to afford your education. From text books, to living on campus to course fees, attending a post-secondary institution is costly. Applying for scholarships or bursaries may be an option to help keep your nose in the books, but playground bullies masked as scammers are still out there looking to swindle you out of your school money. BBB is urging students to exercise caution when applying for financial aid.

According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s 2012 annual statistical report, Albertan victims of mass marketing fraud and identity theft lost over 6 million. Approximately 1,500 of Albertan victims were adults between the ages of 20 to 29, with a reported loss of nearly 2 million. With this age group being the typical age range for most post-secondary students, applying for financial assistance must be done with caution.  

President and CEO of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay, Sandra Crozier-McKee, says even though most young adults may not consider themselves as potential targets for scammers, it’s important to know how easy it can be for anyone to fall victim to fraud. “Since the cost of post-secondary education is so high, a lot of students are applying for various forms of financial aid in order to continue pursuing their educational and professional goals,” she says. “There are scammers out there who know that some students are not aware of the tools and tactics fraudsters use to steal finances or identities. If you are a student applying for financial aid, check with BBB for consumer tips that could keep you from paying for your financial aid.”

BBB urges post-secondary students to watch out for these red flags when applying for financial aid:

  • “The scholarship is guaranteed or your money back.” In reality no one can guarantee they will get you a grant or scholarship. The refund guarantee offers usually have many conditions or strings attached making it is almost impossible for consumers to get their money back.
  • “You cannot get this information anywhere else.” Scholarship information is widely available in libraries, financial aid offices and often very conveniently on the internet.
  • “You have been selected by a foundation to receive a scholarship.” If you have not entered a competition sponsored by the foundation, this claim is highly unlikely.
  • “May I have your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship?”  Never hand over your personal information. This is never a requirement for a legitimate scholarship offer and it is most likely a scam. 
  • “The scholarship will cost some money.” Legitimate scholarship offers never require payment of any kind. You will not be required to pay for financial assistance.
  • “What is your Social Security number?” You should never share your Social Security or passport number over the phone. If you are asked to do so, ask why this information is required. It is highly likely this is a scam so it is best to walk away.
  • Only apply to scholarships, bursaries and awards you know and trust.

Each post-secondary institution has faculty specific awards or awards that are in remembrance of former students or staff. Other financial assistance offers are named in memoriam of well-known members of society (i.e. the Terry Fox Humanitarian Awards). Also, ensure to seek the assistance of the student financial aid office at your college or university to ensure you are correctly applying for scholarships and other offers.

For information on scams and fraud prevention, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. For consumer tips and other information visit  

Media Contact:

Leah Brownridge
Marketing Communications Coordinator
Phone: (403) 531-8793

About BBB:

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2014, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 4.7 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay, founded in 1954, is one of 113 local, independent BBBs across North America.

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