With the cost of college outpacing inflation and crimping family budgets, students and their families are eager to find scholarships and other awards to help pay for higher education.
Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona advises students and their parents to be wary of websites, seminars or other schemes that promise to find scholarships, grants or financial aid packages for an upfront fee.
Some companies promise a money-back guarantee, but set so many conditions that it can be almost impossible to get a refund. Others tell students they've been selected as finalists for a grant or scholarship but must pay a fee to be eligible for the award.
In some cases, for a fee, a company will agree to handle the paperwork that makes a student eligible for financial aid. However, the standard application process for financial aid is most often the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA), which students and their parents can complete themselves at no cost by visiting www.fafsa.ed.gov.
College financial aid offices require the FAFSA to assess a student's eligibility for need-based aid. Most universities are willing to advise prospective students on how to apply for aid. They will also answer questions about financial aid packages offered when a student is accepted for admission.
BBB offers these tips for students looking for financial aid: