March 13, 2019 at 8:42 AM CDT
Updated March 13 at 8:42 AM
MISSOURI (Heartland News at 9) - The Better Business Bureau has a few tips for parents and students who are searching for financial aid for college.
Bureau officials recommend being cautious with companies offering assistance as well as seminars or schemes that promise to find scholarships grants or financial aid packages for a fee.
Officials said the companies advertising financial aid search services may promise a money-back guarantee if students are unable to secure grants or scholarships. In addition, the companies may also set so many conditions that it’s almost impossible to get a refund.
The same scholarships can often be found online or at a local library according to BBB officials.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) documents are usually required from most colleges that award need-based financial aid. The FAFSA can be accessed online.
BBB officials said parents and students can find more information online or by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID.
The BBB advises students to:
- Take your time. Be cautious if a representative urge you to buy now to avoid losing an opportunity.
- Be cautious if a company is reluctant to answer any questions you have about the service or the process.
- Ask your guidance counselor or a college financial aid office whether they have experience with the company.
- Ask instead for the names of families in your community who have used the service in the last year. Talk to them and find out about their experience with the firm.
- Ask about fees associated with a professional financial aid search and find out if the company provides refunds. Get the information in writing but realize the dishonest companies may refuse to provide refunds despite stated policies.
- Beware of letters or emails saying you’ve been selected to receive a scholarship for a contest you never entered.
- If you suspect a financial aid assistance company of running a scam, go to bbb.org/scamtracker and make a report.
- Investigate any company that you consider using to help find aid. Check the company’s BBB Business Profile at bbb.org or by calling 888-996-3887.