High school students, college students and their parents are now filling out their 2022-2023 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms to apply for college financial aid. Many states and schools give out their financial aid funds on a first-come, first-served basis so it is important to complete your FAFSA form as soon as you can. 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. In 2015 I told you about scammers who operated a company named Student Financial Aid Services, Inc. which set up a number of websites including FAFSA.com taking advantage of consumer confusion over the name and offering fee-based assistance to students filling out the FAFSA form. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), when students entered their payment information for certain financial advisory services, the company started billing them for annual renewing subscriptions at costs of between $67 and $85 per year without the students’ knowledge. According to the CFPB more than 100,000 students were cheated out of more than 5 million dollars.
Scammers often tell you that they can get you more financial aid if you pay them a fee and they apply on your behalf, however, this rarely is the case and often these scammers will input false information that can get you in trouble. Filling out the FAFSA form is free and and not so complicated that you can’t do it for yourself. Also never provide your FAFSA ID to anyone. Many scammers have used that information to make you a victim of identity theft.
Before paying for help with the FAFSA form, it is always a good idea to take advantage of the free help found at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov the official FAFSA website of the federal government. 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.
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