I recently received two dispatches about college students, one full of gloom and one of cheer, both worth passing along. Let’s begin in the dark and move to the light.

Student Loan Scams

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling contacted me with word that college student loan scams are rampant. The NFCC said to watch out for these warning signs:

1. Websites that end in .com instead of .gov.

Fakes often mimic the names of legitimate sites, but with one twist, like the end of the URL. All of the Department of Education’s legitimate student loan webpages end in .gov.

2. Emails encouraging student loans or consolidations.

The government doesn't send out such emails, but questionable companies do.

3. Urgency to “act now.”

Scammers often press you to act now or make a quick decision on a “special offer” or you might “lose out.” Legitimate student loans don’t have fast deadlines.

Now on to the happier news for college students, something that will save them money, in fact. Just be sure you’re up to date on the loans above, before you take one of the trips below.

Student Rail Discounts

This glimmer of good news came from my pals at Amtrak, and, coincidentally, I’m writing about it as I ride an Amtrak train from New York to Washington!

Amtrak is offering a new 15 percent student discount to students ages 17 to 25. Students who provide a valid student ID and book three days in advance on amtrak.com and can get discounted travel to about 500 destinations nationwide.