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Avoid Student Aid Scams

You Don’t Have to Pay for Help Finding Money for College

Companies that offer financial aid services can charge you a lot of money.  You don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars for financial aid help.  Even though it’s not illegal to charge for helping students and parents find financial aid, most, if not all the information you pay for is also available for free.
Never give out a credit card or bank account number unless you know the organization you are giving it to is legitimate. You could be putting yourself at risk of identity theft.
Some websites offer help filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form for a fee. These sites are not affiliated with or endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education. The U.S. Department of Education urges students not to pay these sites for assistance because you can get help for free elsewhere. 
The official FAFSA form is available at, and you can get free help from the:

  • Financial aid office at your college or the college you’re thinking about attending;

  • FAFSA online help page - Federal Student Aid Information Center -; and the

  • Arkansas Student Loan Authority –   

You Don’t Have to Pay for Help with Your Federal Student Loans

Many student loan debt relief companies charge a fee to provide services that are available for free. At no cost, the U.S. Department of Education and their federal loan servicers can help you:

  • lower your monthly loan payment;

  • change your repayment plan;

  • consolidate multiple federal student loans;

  • postpone monthly payments while furthering your education or during unemployment;

  • determine if you qualify for loan forgiveness or other programs; and

  • help get your loans out of default.

Contact your loan servicer or lender for free assistance with your student loans.

Reduce Your Risk of Identity Theft When Applying for Aid

Identity theft can occur when criminals access personal data such as names, Social Security numbers, and bank and credit card information. Using the stolen data, the criminal can illegally obtain credit cards, set up mobile phone accounts, and more. Take the following precautions to reduce your risk when applying for federal student aid:

  • Apply for federal student aid by filling out the FAFSA form at the official website.

  • After completing the FAFSA form online, exit the application, and close the browser; any cookies created during your session will be deleted automatically.

  • Don’t tell anyone your FSA ID username or password, even if that person helped you fill out the FAFSA form.

  • Review your financial aid offers and keep track of the amounts you applied for and received.

  • Never share personal information over the phone or internet unless you made the initial contact. If you have questions about an offer of aid or about your student loan account, ask your college financial aid office or contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at the website.

The U.S. Department of Education securely stores your information within the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) database and provides access to it when you log in to your account. However, if you complete or even request a student loan application from a lender, you may be granting the lender permission to access your file. Before providing personal information to an organization, you should review its privacy policy.

Other Ways to Prevent Fraud or Identify Theft

  1. Be sure to keep receipts and documents (for example, credit applications or offers, checks and bank statements) with personal information in a safe place, and shred when you are finished with them.

  2. Keep your purse or wallet secure; store it and other items containing personal information in a secure place at your residence, especially if you have roommates.

  3. Immediately report all lost or stolen identification to the issuer (for example, the credit card company or your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles) and to the police, if appropriate.