Calling all current and future college students! Planning for college can be stressful enough, especially when you're navigating the confusing and complicated financial aid process. While legitimate financial aid and college planning companies do exist, some might be scams.
If a company or organization guarantees or promises that you will automatically get the scholarship or money you're applying for, that's a red flag. Scammers often advertise "free grants," or will cold call you to see if you qualify for a grant. This is a ploy to steal your personal or banking information.
Remember, applying for scholarships is generally free. If you provide your banking information to these companies, they will take your money. In the U.S., the Free Application for Federal and Student Aid (FAFSA) is the only application that determines eligibility for all federal programs. Plus, it's free.
Any time you have to spend money to get money, it might be a scam. Make sure you're prepared to apply for financial aid, and that you know the tell-tale signs of financial aid scams.
Check out the FTC's guide to Scholarship and Financial Aid Scams for more information.