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Federal complaints against Scholarship America, Citizens Financial Group, Sallie Mae, & Wells Fargo

Updated: Oct 28, 2023

#YesSheCanCampaign/DISSCHOLARED has filed federal complaints against Scholarship America, Citizens Financial Group, Sallie Mae, and Wells Fargo for misleading and deceptive advertisements and business practices regarding scholarships and scholarship displacement.


What is scholarship displacement?


Scholarship displacement is a practice that postsecondary institutions use to force students who earn outside scholarships into additional debt or make them drop out. Postsecondary institutions are disguising their scholarship displacement practices as federal overaward regulations.


Why did we file complaints against the private loan companies Citizens Financial Group, Sallie Mae, and Wells Fargo?


All three private loan companies created scholarships and scholarship businesses without notifying student consumers about scholarship displacement. These private loan companies used scholarships and scholarship displacement as a strategy to ensure that students take out their loans once they have become victims of scholarship displacement. These companies also used deceptive and misleading advertisements about scholarships. Below are the scholarship businesses that each private loan company owns.


Citizens Financial Group (Scholarship Business: College Raptor)

Note: College Raptor says the following on its website: "You can stack your scholarships so the amount of aid you receive isn’t capped, unlike student loans." This is actually false. Students cannot stack outside scholarships if they are receiving financial aid because postsecondary institutions practice scholarship displacement.


College Raptor Website says,  "You can stack your scholarships so the amount of aid you receive isn’t capped, unlike student loans." The statement is false.
College Raptor Website

Sallie Mae (Scholarship Businesses: Nitro and Scholly)

Sallie Mae currently owns two scholarship businesses Nitro and now Scholly. There scholarship business Nitro College has a scholarship tracker. After reading the privacy policy, Sallie Mae shares/sells students' information to third parties. Scholly helps students find scholarships. Sallie Mae does not disclose on either website about scholarship displacement.

The privacy policy says we may share your personal information with third parties with whom we have a relationship, including, third parties, and whom we partner to provide contests, scholarships, or co-branded services ."
Sallie Mae (Nitro and Scholly Privacy Policy)

Wells Fargo (Scholarship Program: CollegeSteps)

Wells Fargo scholarship program CollegeSteps has been around for years. Wells Fargo CollegeSteps program has partnerships with military organizations and other organizations. The CollegeSteps program has a scholarship search website and products that help students to find scholarships. Wells Fargo even has a scholarship program in partnership with Scholarship America. Wells Fargo has not disclosed anything about scholarship displacement.



The website says Scholarship Resource Center
Wells Fargo CollegeSTEPS program website


Why did we file a complaint against Scholarship America?


Scholarship America has a collegiate partners program with postsecondary institutions' financial aid departments where Scholarship America-funded scholarships are not displaced. While, the scholarship providers that hire Scholarship America, scholarships are displaced. Scholarship America removed its Collegiate Partners Program page from its website after initiating a campaign in California to dismantle scholarship displacement in part. Scholarship America still permits students to fall victim to scholarship displacement by sharing inaccurate and deceptive information about scholarship displacement. Scholarship America also tried to force our organization to stop advocating to dismantle scholarship displacement.



A photo of scholarship america collegiate partners program
Scholarship America Collegiate Partners Program

Source: https://scholarshipamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/2019-Collegiate-Partners-Directory.pdf (NOTE: Scholarship America has since took down their link after we filed the complaint, below we have a copy of the link).


New Links:




Conclusion

Our organization submitted the complaints to the Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. To learn more about how you can protect the scholarships of 17.4 million + students nationwide, please visit: www.disscholared.org






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