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Don’t Get Caught in a FAFSA Scam

Don’t Get Caught in a FAFSA Scam

It’s FAFSA season, and there are lots of forms to fill out and applications to submit. It can get overwhelming, and scammers know this. They’re out in full force, trying to get unsuspecting students and their parents to fall for their scams. Here’s what you need to know about FAFSA scams and how to avoid falling victim.


How FAFSA scams play out


In a typical FAFSA scam, a college student, applicant or their parent is targeted with ads from a “financial aid company” claiming it can help them get their financial aid for college. This can include grants, loans, work-study programs and more. The catch? They’ll want an absurd processing fee for handling all the paperwork and helping the student obtain financial aid.


In reality, this company is just filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is the free form that determines eligibility for federal aid. Sometimes, they’ll share this with the victim and ask for their FSA ID. In other scenarios, they’ll keep this private and only tell the victim they’ve managed to get them financial aid.


While filling out the FAFSA form for the victim, the scammer may falsify information so the victim qualifies for more aid, and yeah, that’s flat-out illegal. Getting caught in a FAFSA scam can mean losing out on the money you paid to have the application filled out, and might land you fines of up to $20,000 and/or jail time for writing false information on your form.


Red flags


These red flags can alert you to a potential FAFSA scam:


  • You’re asked to pay a big fee for help filling out a financial aid form.

  • You’re asked to share your FSA ID. 

  • The ad offering you FAFSA help is full of typos. 


Protect yourself


If you’re in the process of applying for financial aid for college, follow these steps:


  • Fill out the free FAFSA form to apply for financial aid. 

  • Speak to a guidance counselor at your high school or the financial aid office at your college about your options.

  • Never pay anyone to fill out your financial aid form.

  • Don’t share your FSA ID with anyone outside your family. 


Stay safe!

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