Scholarships and grants are a large part of the education planning process for parents and students. The process of applying for financial aid is often confusing and frustrating. Some companies claim they can help, but only end up charging unnecessary fees. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB) recommends doing your research before paying a company to find financial aid for college.
“With money being tight and tuition costs rising, scholarships and grants are essential for many families to get students through college,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois.“Unfortunately, some companies are trying to take advantage of struggling families looking for funding by charging for phony grants and scholarships.Scholarships and grants will never cost you money.”
The BBB recommends listening for the following red flags when receiving a sales pitch from a financial-aid advisor:
· “The scholarship is guaranteed or your money back.” In reality no one can guarantee they will get you a grant or scholarship. The refund guarantee offers usually have many conditions or strings attached making it is almost impossible for consumers to get their money back.
· “You cannot get this information anywhere else.” Scholarship information is widely available in libraries, financial aid offices and often very conveniently on the internet.
· “You have been selected by a foundation to receive a scholarship.” If you have not entered a competition sponsored by the foundation, this claim is highly unlikely.
· “May I have your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship?” This is never a requirement for a legitimate scholarship offer.
· “The scholarship will cost some money.” Legitimate scholarship offers never require payment of any kind.
· “What is your Social Security number?” You should never share your Social Security or passport number over the phone.
For more information on finding financial aid for school, visit www.fafsa.gov; the BBB has advice for everyone on managing personal finances and avoiding scams at www.bbb.org
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