Clearwater, FL – 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. 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.
“Many families are desperately looking for scholarships and grants to help their kids go to college,” said Karen Nalven, President of BBB serving West Florida. “Unfortunately, there are some companies that are trying to take advantage of struggling families looking for funding -only to later discover that information needed 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 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.
Another company has generated BBB complaints in which consumers 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: