Avoid FAFSA Scams

Need some help filling out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)? That’s not surprising at all, considering how complex that thing is.

But watch out! There are companies out there who prey on people’s lack of knowledge about the FAFSA and are out there to rip you off. How? They offer to fill out your FAFSA for you—for hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

What’s even more troublesome about these companies is that many of them claim they can help you maximize your financial aid reward—through dishonest means, and perhaps even through lying. It’s critically important that you fill out your FAFSA as accurately as possible, or you will lose your eligibility for aid. If anyone suggests that you fudge the form to get a better offer, run.

Here’s what you need to know:

There’s no reason to pay someone to help you fill out your FAFSA because free help is available. If you’re the parent of a high school student, your guidance counselor may be willing to offer you help for free—or if not, he or she can refer you to places where you can get free assistance. In addition, community colleges and organizations often hold free FAFSA workshops to help people fill out their application. And you can always ask a friend or relative who has experience with this form to help you out.

You can also do your FAFSA online, which can be significantly less complicated. Here’s the Department of Education website that allows you to do this.

As the price of college increases, and the process becomes more competitive, it stands to reason that more and more scammers will be around to take advantage of people’s financial uncertainty. Don’t let them fool you. You don’t need to hire someone to help you with the FAFSA.

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