Arlington, VA – Millions of people depend on grants and scholarships to pay for college. Navigating the process of applying for financial aid can be confusing and some companies claim they can help, but only end up providing information and assistance the student can already get for free elsewhere. The Better Business Bureau recommends doing your research before paying a company to find financial aid for college.
During the 2009-2010 school year, $94 billion in grants was made available to college students to help cover education costs, according to The College Board. Sources of the funding included federal and state government, institutions, private entities and employers.
“Times are tight and many families desperately want to tap into the well of scholarships and grants to help their kids go to college,” said Stephen A. Cox, President and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “While some companies are trying to take advantage of struggling families looking for funding, the good news is that all of the information you need is already available for free.”
Every year, BBB receives complaints from parents who paid money upfront to a company that promised to find scholarships and grants for their child but ultimately didn’t deliver.
One such company, Edifi-College Financial Aid, sends prospective college students a letter explaining they have been selected for a personal interview. Students who call for their interview are scheduled for a financial aid seminar along with other students and parents. Complainants say they attended the seminar and later paid more than $1,000 for help finding aid, but the services offered were mostly assistance in filling out financial aid forms.
BBB is also receiving complaints about J.E.C.C., Inc. Complainants say they thought they were taking advantage of a free trial CD-ROM on how to get federal grants for college. Some were charged as much as $69 even before receiving the information in the mail and those who did receive the information complained that it wasn’t helpful at all.
BBB recommends listening for the following red flags when receiving the sales pitch from a financial-aid finder:
Reporters: for more information or to schedule an interview with a BBB spokesperson, contact Sheila Adkins at 703-247-9312.
About Better Business Bureau
As the leader in advancing marketplace trust, Better Business Bureau is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 65 million consumers rely on BBB Reliability Reports® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. Visit www.bbb.org/us for more information.