October 5, 2021
by Carly Johnson
Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC
Watch Out for FAFSA Scammers
If you’re a high schooler applying to college, a college student, or their parent, it’s time to fill out the 2022-23 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. Unfortunately, scammers know it’s that time of year again, too and they’re gearing up to try to take advantage of financial aid seekers.
Many states and schools give out funds on a first-come, first-served basis. So, if you’re looking for financial aid for college or career school, fill out your FAFSA form as soon as you can. Some states have different filing deadlines for certain kinds of aid. Even if you haven’t filed your income taxes or don’t have all of your paperwork completed yet you don’t need to wait. You can submit the FAFSA form using estimates and then update it later. No matter when you fill it out, the form is totally free, and it will help you find out if you’re eligible for different types of financial aid — like grants, work-study, and loans.
During FAFSA season, scammers may tell you they can help you get more financial aid if you apply through them — for a fee. And they might use false information about your family’s income, assets, and benefits to qualify you for more aid than you’d get if they told the truth.
But if someone fills out your FAFSA form and uses false information, you could get in trouble — including fines or jail time. Never pay someone else to fill it out for you. Instead, fill out the FAFSA form yourself, or with a family member.
If a company tells you they can process your FAFSA for a fee, walk away. Filing your FAFSA is completely free to do yourself. Find all of the information you need at fafsa.gov. And remember, never share your FSA ID (it’s what you use to log in to fill out your FAFSA form) with anyone. Dishonest people could use that to get into your account and steal your identity.
If you spot a scam, report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. If you need more help with your FAFSA form, visit studentaid.gov or call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243 (TTY: 1-800-730-8913 for deaf or hard of hearing).