Anyone who has ever applied for a student loan for college expenses is familiar with FAFSA, the Free Application for Student Aid, which is operated by the United States Department of Education. The office of Federal Student Aid is the largest issuer of financial aid to students in the country through grants, loans and work-study programs. All colleges use the FAFSA form and it is a primary resource for any student or the parent of any student seeking to find money to cover college expenses. The office of Federal Student Aid interactive website http://www.fafsa.ed.gov is a tremendously useful website. However, scammers take advantage of the fact that we all, at one time or another type incorrect URLs into our web browsers. An Indiana sheriff’s office reported earlier this week that a high school student made the mistake of logging into a website that he thought was that of the office of Federal Student Aid, but inadvertently typed .com at the end of the URL and went to a website that appeared to help identify college aid funds, but charged an $80 fee for their services which provided services that the student could have gotten for free at the real website of http://www.fafsa.ed.gov. Many scammers take advantage of students and their parents by selling services through which they promise to locate grants and scholarships. Many times they do absolutely nothing and other times they do nothing that the student and his or her family could not do on their own at no cost.
Always make sure when you are typing in a URL that you are typing in the correct address because scammers often create websites with URL’s that are remarkably similar to the real URLs, but may contain a small, common typographical error. They then take advantage of people who do not realize with whom they are really dealing. Financial aid is a complex matter and students and their families should familiarize themselves with the information available on the real website of the office of Federal Student Aid in order to be an informed consumer.