Watch Out For Bogus Financial Aid Scams – Says BBB
It can cost a fortune these days to send your children to college, and they can get in a major bind trying to pay for their own education. Add to that warnings from the Acadiana Better Business Bureau that this is the time of year when student financial aid scams are very popular. They advise that you make sure you know who you are doing business with before you give out any information.
With costs for higher education constantly going up, students, parents and the like are always looking for ways to help cut the costs. Many people are hoping they will be lucky enough to get scholarships, grants or loans to pay for school.
The Acadiana Better Business Bureau is reminding parents and students to be vary careful of "websites, seminars or other schemes that promise to find scholarships, grants or financial aid packages for an upfront fee." The BBB warns that some companies will tell you there is a "money-back guarantee", but they say these companies will make sure there are so many hoops that you have to get through, that you probably will never get your money back.
The Better Business Bureau says some companies will try to lure you into "doing business" with them by informing you that you or the student you are paying for has been selected as "finalists for a grant or scholarship". The problem with bogus companies is that they will then ask you to pay a fee in order to be able to get your "award".
The BBB says be on the look out for any company asking for a fee. They say, "in some cases, for a fee, a company will agree to handle the paperwork that makes a student eligible for financial aid. However, the standard application process for financial aid is most often the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which students and their parents can complete themselves at no cost." Be aware that at this website, www.fafsa.ed.gov, you can get a free application, and you don't have to pay a fee to get this information.
The BBB offers these tips for students looking for financial aid:
- -- Don't be pressured. Don't be rushed into paying for help at a seminar. Be cautious if a representative urges you to "pay now" to avoid losing the opportunity.
- -- Ask questions. Ask about fees associated with the service or process and if the company provides refunds. If a company is reluctant to answer any questions you have about the service or the process, walk away.
- -- Turn to a school counselor. Guidance counselors and college financial aid offices are a great resource and can help students search for information on scholarships.
- -- Get details in writing. Everything that was discussed, promised or included in the package should be clearly written out and explained.
- -- Research the company. Check the company's BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org.
The BBB of Acadiana services the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion. You can check them out at http://www.acadiana.bbb.org