Financial Aid Scams

All applications for financial aid are FREE.  Do not use any web address other than  If you find yourself on a website that quotes a price or asks for a credit card number, be suspicious.  You may also be contacted by companies who want you to pay for some type of financial aid application assistance or guaranteed financial aid amount.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, these are some of the sales pitches to watch out for:

“If you use our services, you’re guaranteed to get at least $3,000 in student aid for college, or we’ll give you your money back.”
No one can guarantee to get you a grant or scholarship.  Most students are eligible for at least $3,500 in unsubsidized student loans anyway and no credit check is necessary.  Because a student loan is considered financial aid, you won’t be able to ask for a refund if a loan is all that you’re offered.  Remember that refund guarantees often have conditions or strings attached so get refund policies in writing and read them carefully before committing.

“Applying for aid is complicated. We’re the only ones who can help you through the process and find all the aid for which you’re eligible.”
There are many places to get free help applying for student aid.  Check with your high school counselor or college financial aid office for help filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  The FAFSA website itself has a lot of tips to help you with the application.  Your high school or college can also help you find scholarships.  Also, check out the Links page we’ve put on the OC Student Financial Services website.

“I’d like to offer you a scholarship or grant.  All I need is your bank account information so the money can be deposited and a processing fee charged.”
It’s extremely rare for a legitimate organization to charge a processing fee for a scholarship.  Some criminals pretend to be working for legitimate foundations, federal agencies and corporations.  Don’t give anyone your bank account or credit card information or your Social Security number unless you initiated the contact and trust the company.  Such personal identification information could be used to commit identity theft.  If you’ve been contacted by someone claiming to be from the U.S. Department of Education and asking for your SSN or bank account information, do not provide it and immediately contact the agencies listed below.  Neither the Department of Education nor Odessa College will ever call and ask for such information over the phone.

To find out how to prevent or report a financial aid scam, visit or call:

Federal Trade Commission
1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357)
(TTY for the hearing impaired: 1-866-653-4261)
U.S. Department of Education
Office of Inspector General Fraud Hotline
1-800-MIS-USED (1-800-647-8733)

To find free information on student aid visit “Looking for Student Aid Without Getting Scammed”