Beware of Financial Aid Scams

September 16th, 2008

We try to avoid re purposing material here at the Admissions Blog. Today, we’ll make an exception for an excellent post on AdmissionsAdvice.com about Financial Aid, or more specifically, scholarship scams.

You’re worried about paying for college, and the letter that just arrived in your mailbox sounds like an answer to those worries. It’s inviting you to a “free” presentation on college financial aid, given by a “financial aid expert” who has helped other families save “thousands of dollars.” What could it hurt to attend?

The answer in one word: Plenty.

I actually get questions about financial aid seminars and “presentations” quite often. The long and short of it is that there is no way a paid consultant can do anything for you in terms of seeking out scholarships that you can’t do for yourself for free. Furthermore, I would recommend that you NEVER pay to have someone search out scholarships for you or your daughter/son.

The big red flag, though, is any sort of guarantee. Scholarships are almost always competitive and usually have some sort of minimum qualification. There is NO WAY a consultant can guarantee you a certain amount in scholarship dollars; the process is just too subjective.

Many high schools, colleges and universities offer financial aid information nights. These are almost without exception not for profit and totally on the up and up. If you are ever unsure about the legitimacy of a scholarship program or consultant, you should always ask your high school guidance counselor. You can even approach an admissions advisor/counselor if you are really confused about a service…We would love to take a little extra time to educate you on your resources than have you throw your/your family’s hard earned money away.

Some scholarship resources that I would recommend:

Fastweb.com and its informational partner finaid.org: free for the student, one application allows Fastweb to suggest many different programs that you may qualify for.

OSAC (Oregon Student Assistance Commission, Oregon students only): One application qualifies you for thousands of Oregon based awards…As an added bonus, the OSAC uses an essay that is patterned after OSU’s Insight Resume.

What scholarship search resources are you using? Let us know in the comment section.

Happy applying!!

-jm

6 Responses to “Beware of Financial Aid Scams”

  1. James Spinosa says:

    Thank you for this post, as a current college student at another university I can attest to the fact that I had a few people offer me BS claims about increasing my financial aid. Good to know fastweb is actually a legitimate site, I didn’t use them originally because I thought I remembered seeing their ads plastered alongside some poorly designed websites.

  2. Jordans says:

    I actually have a friend who got scammed in one of these and it sucks

  3. Hello I am attending I put in a request for additional funding with AIU online school on August 18, 2008. I was notified on October 6,2008 I was approved and funds would be disburse but the school informed me no specific date could be given. However they have already start working on my financial aid for next year. I have contacted my student advisor, student accounts still no one has been specific about that exact date of disbursement. Please if you could tell me how I should handle this matter.

  4. James says:

    @ Penelope:

    I don’t really know anything about the practices at AIU so I can’t really advise you specifically. In general, most schools will disburse financial aid at the beginning of each academic period (term, quarter or semester). In this general situation, I would recommend calling and asking to speak with someone who can tell you exactly when financial aid will be disbursed. You should never leave a phone call without getting the exact info you need.

  5. John says:

    I’ve been looking for legit financial help on the internet only to find scam after scam. I appreciate your help and I am now looking into fastweb.com. I have also set up a financial budget plan at how-to-budget.org, which has helped me keep the little money I do have. I appreciate your research on the matter… Thanks for the help jm!

  6. James says:

    @ John:

    Glad our humble blog could help you along in your journey. Best of luck with your education!

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