ic S/general/checkmark circled Thanks for subscribing! Be on the lookout for our next newsletter.
ic S/general/checkmark circled Saved to Favorites.
Articles / Paying for College / 3 Scams to Watch for As You Navigate the Financial Aid Process

3 Scams to Watch for As You Navigate the Financial Aid Process

Torrey Kim
Written by Torrey Kim | Oct. 16, 2019
3 Scams to Watch for As You Navigate the Financial Aid Process

iStock

As most students and their families are aware, the college admissions process can be long and intimidating. And adding to the stress of filling out applications and financial aid forms is the chance that an unscrupulous company might be trying to manipulate or scam you during the process.

You're Promised Scholarships or Financial Aid – for a Fee

If a company is promising you scholarships or financial aid guarantees, they're likely to be unscrupulous, since it's difficult to predict what types of aid you'll be getting. However, if they're asking for a fee for these "guaranteed" aid options, then you know you have a scam on your hands. Submitting the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) is completely free of charge, and the only place where you can file it is at fafsa.ed.gov, the Intuit team notes. If you're applying for scholarships, you should be able to apply at no cost, and no company can guarantee that you'll be awarded one.

You're Awarded Aid for Which You Never Applied

If you are notified that you are the recipient of college money, make sure you know the source that's contacting you. In some cases, you may hear from a company offering you aid that you never actually applied for, and it could cost you in the end.

"Whether by a sudden phone call or mysterious letter in the mail, be wary of anyone telling you you've been randomly selected for a scholarship or grant," the Intuit staff adds. "Often the next step is sending the scammer your bank or personal information so they can then steal your money or identity."

Debt Management Firms Charge a Fee Up-Front

For those who already have student debt, it can be challenging to apply to one school while owing money to a previous college. In these cases, you may be interested in seeking debt relief, but don't fall prey to a company that says your debt can go away if you pay them a fee up-front.

"The FTC has made it illegal for debt relief programs to charge a fee up-front, so if a company is promising to lower or renegotiate your debt after you send them money, that's a red flag," Intuit notes. "Legitimate companies are only allowed to accept payment once the debt has been settled, or you agree to a new payment plan."

Remember, however, that you don't need a third party to help you negotiate your debt or restructure your student loans. Organizations such as The National Foundation for Credit Counseling can help students manage loan debt legitimately.

Written by

Torrey Kim

Torrey Kim

College Admissions Expert

More on Paying for College

See all
students-walking

Colleges That Offer Tuition Waivers and Scholarships for Native American Students

A state-by-state list of colleges and universities that offer tuition waivers and scholarships for Native American students.

With …

pointing at screen - john-schnobrich

Scholarships for Hispanic/Latinx Students 2022-23

In honor of October being Hispanic / Latinx Heritage month, below is a list of scholarships currently accepting applications that…

529Plans_2

How to Handle 529 Plans in a Volatile Stock Market

Have you looked at your 529 plan recently?

Don’t.

If you do take a look at your 529 plan, you may be shocked at how the value has c…

SmartTRACK

Plan Ahead To Cut Costs For College

We get asked every day by middle and upper-middle income parents if there is anything they can do to make college more affordable…

Harvard_University_Gazette

Harvard to Expand Financial Aid Starting with Class of ’26

Harvard College has offered admission to 1,214 applicants for the Class of 2026, with 1,954 admitted in total, including those se…

Need Help Paying for College?
VIew Offers