As college-bound students search for every possible way to pay for the rising cost of education, the San Diego Better Business Bureau (BBB) is advising caution about financial aid assistance companies and private education consultants who may offer “guaranteed” scholarship money in exchange for an up-front fee.
After paying the fee, some parents have complained to the BBB that they never heard again from the company or the information they received arrived too late to meet application deadlines or did not match their students’ qualifications.
The BBB said sometimes the information sold by financial aid companies is already available free of charge at a high school counseling office, college financial aid office or library. Also, the BBB said parents and students should consider all available scholarship funding options, including federal, state and local programs, government work-study programs, financial institutions’ loan plans, home equity loans and scholarships offered by the colleges themselves.
The BBB recommends: ask a company or consultant to put everything in writing, including details of services to be provided and refund policy; ask for references, including names of past scholarship recipients, and contact the references about their satisfaction; investigate the background of any unknown company by contacting the BBB. For more consumer protection tips, visit www.sandiego.bbb.org.
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