Not so FAFSA

Katie Greenwald

Services offering to check application forms may not be worth your money

Fifty dollars seems to be the going rate for filling out Free Applications for Federal Student Aid.

Web sites such as, and offer a fact-checking service for fees ranging from $49.99 to $79.95.

In 2000, the Federal Trade Commission cracked down on Web sites that scammed money out of students for scholarship-searching services, but left some sites operating under strict guidelines, according to the College Scholarship Fraud Prevention Act of 2000.

So these Web sites are legal, but they may not be worth your hard-earned dollars.

The site said that it provides specialists who review applications and ensure they are error proofed for a fee of $49.99.

The Office of Student Financial Aid on campus can either provide the same service for students or guide them some where that will do it for free.

“I just think there are enough avenues for families to get service for free,” said Constance Dubick, assistant director of Student Financial Aid.

Mark Evans, director of Student Financial Aid, said some avenues include “high school nights,” where professionals in the business are on hand to help students complete their FAFSAs.

In the past, the Office of Student Financial Aid has helped students complete their FAFSAs to ensure they are error proofed.

Evans said the department encourages students to fill out FAFSA forms to the best of their ability before visiting the office.

Some organizations imply that without their services, an application may be rejected.

“Our FAFSA experts ensure your application will be done perfectly” because one in seven paper FAFSAs are otherwise rejected, according to

However, “If (the FAFSA) is in by the due date it should be OK to make corrections later,” Dubick said.

Students will get warnings from the government and the university if there is a problem with their forms, Evans said.

Evans warns that Web sites aren’t the only organizations making money off the free form. He said there are scams where people call students and their parents asking for checking account information. They say that in return they will give the student a scholarship.

Evans said that anytime someone asks for any payment for a scholarship “red flags” should go up — a student or parent should never give checking account information in return for grants, scholarships or information on them.

Some sites that Dubick recommended to find free information on scholarships are or

Contact student finance reporter Kate Greenwald at [email protected].