Keep a sharp eye on Google:
Financial Aid-Hunting Students, Make Sure You Visit The Right FAFSA Site
Filling out the FAFSA every year is as much a part of college as binge drinking and the morning after pill. But Jackie points out how easy it is to miss out on this seminal, government-subsidized loan and grant hunting experience by accidentally clicking on FAFSA.com, run by a non-government entity that soaks you for $80 to use its financial aid-finding services. The site you're looking for is FAFSA.gov, which is free.
Well, that is until you graduate and end up having to get a job and pay those loans off for the rest of your life.
FAFSA is the government financial aid form that college students fill out to recieve loans and grants and what not to make it through the high college tuition bills that are to come in their education. The correct website to fill out this form at is "fafsa.gov". However, now when you type "fafsa" into google, the first site to pop up is "fafsa.com." Looking at fafsa.com there is little different from the real website. It even asks all the same questions as the form you're supposed to be filling out, until at the end there is an $79.99 fee tacked onto the form! But what makes this particularly dangerous is the fact that since it is a government form, this scam site is asking for information like your social security number and other personal information.
I have filled out the fafsa form 3 times, and even I was fooled until I hit the portion of the page in which you had to enter credit card information. While on the website it does say that it is a helper (albeit, in very fine print), this site is obviously a scam to lure in parents of and first year college students into A giving away important information, and B giving them money.
It's a shame that when someone is trying to do something good, like get a college education, there are people trying to trick them in such a manner.
Tell a college student friend or relative about this, that is unless you carry a vendetta against them.
I ran a little test of my own on Google and typed in "FAFSA." Google's auto-fill feature kicked in and the drop-down menu of possibilities had the correct FAFSA.ed.gov site as the first four options. When I typed in "FAFSA" again, and hit "Enter," the FAFSA.com site was the third site listed, although the capsule description read "Professional help filing the FAFSA - Federal Student Financial Aid."
The keyword "warning" here is "Professional." However, just a word to the wise: Be careful how you use Google (or other search engines). Granted, there's likely no conspiracy to steer you to the wrong site, but a bit of caution can go a long way.
Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.