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College Bound? Alleged Scam Reminds, Application for Federal Student Aid is Free

November 4th, 2015 · No Comments · Student Loans

by Kristy Welsh

(Last Updated On: February 26, 2018)

College Bound? Alleged Scam Reminds, Application for Federal Student Aid is Free

It’s free to apply for student financial aid through the Department of Education. So if anyone tries to charge you a fee for this service, buyer beware. While it’s not illegal to charge you for something that’s free elsewhere, it’s unnecessary. Plus, there are plenty of scams out there that aren’t on the up-and-up. Unfortunately, tens of thousands of students and their families had to learn this the hard way thanks to an alleged nationwide student financial aid scam.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has taken action against Armond Aria and his companies – Global Financial Support, Student Financial Resource Center, and College Financial Advisory – for:

  • Posing as government and university-affiliated agencies
  • Tricking students and their families into believing they were applying for student financial aid
  • Charging fees of $59 to $78 to match students with financial aid, for which students either received nothing or a general booklet of financial aid opportunities
  • Created fake deadlines to create a false sense of urgency for financial aid application through their services

“Students and families were looking for information on how to pay for college,” says CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Instead they were illegally charged millions of dollars for sham financial services.”

How to Apply for Student Financial Aid

If you are college-bound, make sure you have submitted a FAFSA through the U.S. Department of Education.

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, including grants, student loans, and work-study programs. So the only time you will be asked to pay for this service is if you are dealing with a fraudulent organization.

Don’t think you need student financial aid? You never know what you could qualify for, so give it a go, regardless of your financial situation. That doesn’t mean taking out student loans you do not need, but why not take advantage of grants that don’t have to be paid back and work-study programs, if they are available to you?

To apply, go to FAFSA.ed.gov.

Click on the Start a New FAFSA button and it will walk you through the free application progress.

Learn more about FAFSA, including when to file, the tax documents you’ll need to do so, and under what circumstances you should accept a FAFSA offer.

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