Financial Aid Tip: Don’t be taken in

Parents of college-bound students often hear from companies that promise to help them find financial aid to pay for college. But families don’t have to pay for this kind of information, according to the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA).

That information can be obtained free by working with a school counselor, checking out sources in the library, doing free online scholarship searches or contacting the financial aid office of the college the student plans to attend.

If you decide to use a company to help you find financial aid, make sure you’re dealing with a reputable one. The Federal Trade Commission cautions students to be especially skeptical about scholarship search companies and websites that make these claims:

· “You’ve been selected by a national foundation to receive a scholarship.” Check with a school counselor to find out if the foundation is legitimate. Be especially wary if you’re notified that you’re a finalist in a scholarship contest you didn’t enter.

· “We’ll do all the work.” It’s highly unlikely that the company will fill out all the applications for all the financial aid sources it sends you.

· “I just need your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship.” Never give these numbers to a person or company you’re not sure about.

· “You’re guaranteed to get money for college or your money back.” Read the fine print. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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