Given the economic times, more students and families are anxious to find "free money", such as scholarships or grants to finance a college education (see results of SLA Flash Survey on Financial Aid Counseling). Perhaps that is why services purporting to "find" these scholarships and grants will be "coming to a college near you" if they are not marketing on your campus already.
Here are the contents of a bulletin put out by the Better Business Bureau:
The Better Business Bureau warns that a company called College Financial Advisory is targeting students from Midwestern State University, said BBB of North Central Texas President Monica Horton.
She said the company is deceptively trying to make themselves look like they are affiliated with MSU to lure them into sending money.
She also pointed out College Financial Advisory is attempting to get students to pay for a grant-locating service to pay for tuition. The BBB has verified with MSU that College Financial Advisory is in no way affiliated with MSU, Horton said.
The BBB said College Financial Advisory is based in Oceanside, Calif., and has a C- rating with the BBB. It has 31 complaints filed against it, and most of the complaints involve advertising issues, refund issues, and service issues.
Horton said students are asked to send in a processing fee that will be returned within 10 business days to students who do not qualify or do not receive financial aid money. The processing fee is $59, and in return a list of available grants will be given in exchange.
In many instances, companies operating in this manner make it very hard to get the processing fee returned because of policies in the fine print, the BBB reported.
“Companies like this will generally try to gain your trust by making their advertisements seem like they are from an official agency representing the school or government,” Horton said. “Always verify the source with the school and the BBB before giving money or information to anyone claiming to be providing financial aid or information about financial aid.”