Parents warned about promises of ‘guaranteed’ college scholarships


If you’re looking for a college scholarship, you shouldn’t have to pay money to get it, yet that’s just what some businesses are asking for.

Be warned about companies that say if you pay them, they can promise financial aid.

The application period for federal financial aid and many private scholarships is ongoing, but Greg Dunn of Better Business Bureau Hawaii says you may want to study the best ways to get that financial aid.

“Right now is high season for folks coming out and inviting you to join certain programs to get you access to financial aid for college,” he said, “to find out where the scholarships are and if you qualify for government aid.”

But you don’t need to pay for information that’s already free and easy to find on the government’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website.

The BBB says it get a significant number of complaints every year from parents who paid money upfront to a company that promises to find scholarships and grants for their child, but doesn’t come through.

“That website was a portal to the government’s website and they were charging up to several thousand dollars per child for access to that information,” Dunn said.

The complaints allege the salespeople used guilt and high pressure tactics. “The salespeople ask ‘don’t you care enough about your child to sign him up for this program?’ and this in front of the child.”

While such tactics are illegal, Dunn says they are deceptive. He says be wary if a company:

  • claims the “information cannot be found anywhere else.”
  • claims it will do all the work.
  • or if the company requires a debit or credit card to hold the scholarship.

And if you have a consumer concern, or are interested in becoming an Action Line volunteer, call 591-0222 weekdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p-m, or send us an email to

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