Every year at this time, I hear very sad stories from families about money they have lost in FAFSA, financial aid or scholarship scams. Unfortunately there are a lot of bad people out there that prey on unsuspecting families who mistakenly think they are doing the right thing in filling out those all-important forms. I recently heard from one such family:
The Mom thought she was completing the FAFSA form when she logged onto the site. Before she could push SEND, however, the site directed her to a page for payment of $70.00, which she unknowingly paid.
The only reason I found out about this is that she was then asked for more money to send the information to the colleges. She became suspicious and called me. The FAFSA is free and colleges can access your information immediately from the government FAFSA site. The only web address you need to use is: www.fafsa.ed.gov.
IF YOU ARE ON A SITE EITHER TO COMPLETE THE FAFSA OR SECURE SCHOLARSHIPS AND YOU ARE ASKED FOR PAYMENT, LOG OFF IMMEDIATELY. THE SITE IS A SCAM.
I did suggest to the Mom that she contact the police and the Better Business Bureau which she did. A report was generated but the policeman told her that her $70.00 would probably never be returned. If you haven’t completed your FAFSA yet, I am reprinting my tips from the November newsletter.
This information is all you need to know.
1. The 2017 FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is now available. The FAFSA is the form that families fill out to apply for federal grants, loans, and work-study funds for college students. You can file it online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
2. You can use taxes from the last two years. This is a change that will allow you to fill out the FAFSA sooner, which is really important since most states give out money on a first come, first-served basis.
3. The 2017 FAFSA became available on October 1, 2016,and is open until June 30, 2017. Many states have priority deadlines in February. This means that if you wait too long, you will miss out on thousands of dollars of financial aid.
4. It is almost impossible to qualify as an independent student if your parents don’t want to support you or provide information. The government sees it as their responsibility and you could end up with absolutely no aid. Even if they won’t help you with funds, their information can help you make the best decision on college costs.
5. The IRS Data Retrieval tool makes moving info easy from your taxes to the FAFSA.
6. The old FAFSA Pin has been replaced by the FSA ID. If you had an old pin, you can transfer your information over. If this is your first time with the FAFSA, just follow the instructions. It takes 2-3 days to process, so don’t wait until the last minute!
7. Some states require you to put your schools in a certain order. Make sure you check your state. If there are no rules, best bet is to either put your top school first or just put them all in alphabetical order. If you’re interested in designing a plan so that paying for college is reasonable for your budget, I encourage you to sign up for my first white paper on college affordability here.
As always, I welcome your comments and questions. Call or email today for more details!