Financial Aid Scams Trick Local Families into Paying for Scholarships

N.C. Organizations Warn Families ‘Don’t Get Hooked’ by Misleading Financial Aid Offers

Multiple North Carolina families have fallen victim to scams surrounding the FAFSA and other financial aid programs statewide, losing hundreds of dollars. Scammers promise college scholarship or grant money to families if they agree to certain stipulations, like sending a check or signing up to pay for a service. Scammers time these offers during the college application season, so families are fooled into thinking they’re hearing from scholarship providers or the federal government.

That’s why College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC), along with  the North Carolina Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NCASFAA), has launched the “Don’t Get Hooked” initiative to educate families to help them avoid misleading financial aid offers. These fraudulent offers can come in the mail, over the Internet or phone, or even in person, and families must protect themselves against these scams.

“FAFSA completion is well underway, and we want to remind students and parents that you do not need to pay for FAFSA completion or advice,” says Jamie Pendergrass, NCASFAA president. “There are over 100 colleges in North Carolina, including 58 community colleges, and the financial aid administrators on each of those campuses are ready to assist you with completing your FAFSA, free of charge and regardless of whether you plan to attend that school. They are the experts and are happy to help North Carolina families.”

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step toward paying for college because it is the federal form used to determine a student’s eligibility for state and federal financial aid. This form is integral to paying for college and is completely free.

North Carolina’s Attorney General Josh Stein agrees.  According to Attorney General Stein, “College is a great investment, but it can also be an expensive one. Without careful planning, students may end up drowning in student debt or fall prey to scams. High school students should research the types of financial aid that are available, which starts by completing the FAFSA. In addition to CFNC’s useful financial aid resources, you can visit my office’s Paying for College website to get more information and be sure to avoid scammers looking to make a quick buck.”

CFNC representatives frequently offer financial aid sessions in all areas of the state. Families should look for events and their local high schools, libraries, and other locations if they’re unsure about financial aid. NCASFAA is also ensuring all campus financial aid offices are ready and willing to help families with any financial aid question regardless of which school the student wants to attend. You can find contact information for all financial aid offices using this map.

In addition to FAFSA information, CFNC is North Carolina’s leading resource for students as they plan, apply, and pay for college. For more information, visit