Don't Pay for Help Finding Money for College
Commercial financial aid advice services can cost well over $1,000. You might have heard or seen these claims at seminars, over the phone from telemarketers, or online:
- “You can't get this information anywhere else.” If you are patient and organized, you can find all the information you need yourself – free. Below, there are a list of sources.
- “Give me your credit card or bank account number and I will hold financial aid for you.” Never give out a student credit card or bank account number unless you know the company or organization you are giving it to is legitimate.
- "Buy now or miss this opportunity." Don't give in to pressure tactics. Remember, the “opportunity” is a chance to give a company money for information you could find for free elsewhere.
Try these free sources of information:
- The Student Loan Network
- Your college's financial aid office
- Your high school counselor
- The U.S. Department of Education’s Web site: http://www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov
- Other federal agencies (including the military, if appropriate): www.students.gov
- The reference section of your school or public library
- Online college scholarship searches
- Foundations, religious organizations, community organizations, local businesses and civic groups
- Organizations (including professional associations) related to your field of interest
- Your employer or your parents' employers
Don’t Pay for the FAFSA
Several Web sites offer help filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for a fee. These sites are not affiliated with or endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education. We urge you not to pay these sites for assistance that is provided free elsewhere. The official FAFSA is at www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov, and you can get free help from
- FAFSA Online, from the Student Loan Network
- The financial aid administrator at your college
The FAFSA’s online help at www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov
Remember, if you are asked for your credit card information while filling out the FAFSA online, you are not at the official government site.
Keep Your Information Safe
How Does Identity Theft Happen?
Criminals use their access to personal data such as names, Social Security numbers, and bank and credit card information. Using the stolen data, the criminal can fraudulently obtain credit cards, buy items over the Internet, and even establish cell phone accounts.
Reduce Your Risk
- Apply for federal student aid by filling out the FAFSA at www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov.
- After completing the FAFSA online, exit the application and close the browser.
- Keep your Federal Student Aid PIN in a secure place. (Get your PIN at www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov.)
- Don’t reveal your PIN to anyone, even if that person is helping you fill out the FAFSA.
- Review your financial aid award documents and keep track of the amount of aid applied for and awarded.
- Shred receipts and copies of documents with personal information if they are no longer needed.
- Immediately report all lost or stolen identification (credit card, driver’s license, etc.) to the issuer.
Report Financial Aid Fraud
A company charging for financial aid advice is not committing fraud unless it doesn’t deliver what it promises. For more information about financial aid fraud or to report fraud, call the Federal Trade Commission toll free at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or go to www.ftc.gov/scholarshipscams.
Report Identity Theft
If you become a victim of identity theft or suspect that your student information has been stolen, contact:
U.S. Department of Education
Office of Inspector General Hotline
complain online: www.ed.gov/misused
Federal Trade Commission
complain online: www.consumer.gov/idtheft
Social Security Administration
Equifax Credit Bureau
Experian Information Solutions (Formerly TRW)
TransUnion Credit Bureau