Tips for Consumers: Searching for College Funding

Tips for Consumers
Searching for College Funding

April is an exciting time for high school seniors in the Hagerstown area as they learn which colleges have granted them admission. But many parents are fretting over the high costs of college. Worse, con artists may contact you with glowing promises that their services can uncover big financial aid money for your teen. But after you pay their fees you get worthless information. If you have a college-bound student, here are some BBB tips:
Unsolicited e-mails, phone calls or letters offering scholarship searches, prizes or awards (for which your teen never applied) can just be a ploy to get you to sign up with them.
Don't judge these services by a fancy Web site alone. Their sites may look professional with glowing testimonials. But always check with us at the Better Business Bureau. Visit our web site, or give us a call 24 hours a day at 410-347-3992 to find out if the service has had complaints.
* Ask your teen's guidance counselor and college financial aid administrator if they know the organization. Financial aid information is readily available at no cost from guidance counselors, school and public libraries, government education agencies and colleges.
* Steer clear of questionable consultants who promise to share secrets on how to maximize financial aid eligibility, but are tight-lipped about their background, specific services and fees.
* Beware the imitator. Some bogus college funding promoters use Federal, Foundation or Administration in their name to appear legitimate.
* Never pay an advance fee or permit debits to your checking account on the promise that you've been selected as a scholarship "finalist" or to "confirm" your eligibility. Legitimate scholarships don't operate that way.
* Financial aid seminars can be blatant sales pitches that pressure you to pay a fee (from $50 to more than $1,000) to obtain information of questionable value. The "money back guarantee" can be misleading. It has so many strings attached that few people qualify for a refund.
Legitimate scholarship services will never guarantee you money. Also, if you are being promised an education "loan," you should not have to pay any fees up front. Origination and other fees are taken out of the loan disbursement check.

To file a complaint visit: or write: BBB, 1414 Key Highway, #100, Baltimore MD 21230. Their office serves Baltimore and all of Greater Maryland.