Every year I hear of some group that is giving away college admissions information or financial aid information at a free seminar. Once families get to the seminar they learn that it is really a program devoted to promoting a group’s fee based services. One of the latest in the news is a group called College Planning Specialists Hawaii, LLC. I personally know nothing about this group other than what I read in the newspaper. The women representing the company was giving some very bad information to the families attending the seminar that could cause them great difficulty in filing for financial aid. Obviously this women did not really understand college financial aid and was simply pushing a program to get new clients for the fee based services.
Another group that has been the topic of conversation among college counselors is a group called Edifi. Again, I am not personally familiar with the group but if you google the group you will find a number of complaints from clients who do not believe they received what they paid for from this group.
Scams based on college admissions and financial aid are frustrating for two reasons. First, they tend to prey on the people with the least amount of knowledge who believe that for a fee, everything will be taken care . No worries about admissions and no worries about paying for college. As any competent counselor will tell you, the system only works if the student and the family are actively involved in the decision making process.
The other frustrating thing about such scams is that they are sometimes lumped in with some very good groups out there that actually are providing extremely beneficial information for free. One such group that I have mentioned before is GetCollegeFunding.org. This is a non profit in Southern California that gives free seminars throughout California providing a great deal of very valuable information regarding the process of college funding. Their online seminar, which is available free to everyone, provides more useful information regarding financial aid than you will find at almost any other college financial aid night. And no, I am in no way affiliated with GetCollegeFunding.
If you hear of a free seminar regarding college admissions or college financial aid your obligation is to check out the group providing the information. if they are legitimate, then go to the seminar and hopefully learn something useful. But if the group gives you vague information during the seminar but guarantees the “really helpful” information if you give them a check that night, run away as fast as you can.