The cost of attending college rises every year, so it is no shock that students and their families are searching more fervently for ways to try to lessen the financial burden that accompanies a college education. Unfortunately, students in their search for scholarships and outside financial aid are falling prey to unscrupulous scammers or businesses that aren't upfront.
Our BBB of North Alabama says one such company is Right C3, LLC. Their business is located in Las Vegas, but they recently sent out mailers across the Tennessee Valley. They targeted parents and their children, and encourage parents to attend one of their local presentations.
They say their "No Cost" educational workshops help students get accepted into a college of their choice and that their company has assisted students with getting millions of dollars in financial aid offers. But consumers allege that's just a ploy to get them in the door, and they've taken their complaints to the Better Business Bureau.
WHNT News 19 learned the company has a 'D' rating, along with 52 complaints in the last 3 years. That includes 37 complaints in the last 12 months. BBB President Elizabeth Garcia says most of the complaints are closed, but that does not mean the consumers were satisfied.
"Most consumers signed, effectively an iron clad agreement, and they initialed every page," explained Garcia. "This means consumers had very little recourse for a refund or cancellation."
Garcia says while the tactics that Right C3, LLC are using aren't illegal, they certainly aren't ethical.
There are more and more fake financial aid offers out there, so it is crucial that students and families be aware of what these fake offers typically look like. The majority guarantee that they can provide students with scholarships in exchange for an advance fee to ensure that they do not miss out on this limited “opportunity.” Others will ask for checking account information to confirm eligibility and then charge the account without prior consent from the student.
Several claim to have programs that handle a student’s financial aid paperwork and make them eligible for financial aid, only for a processing fee. However, remember that the only application that officially determines a student’s eligibility for all aid programs and offers is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which can be completed online and submitted for free.
When applying for scholarships and financial aid programs, beware of any offer that is asking for advance fees or secure financial information because that will signal that whoever is behind the offer is out to get your money. Look out for these tell-tale lines:
- “The scholarship is guaranteed or your money back”
- “You can’t get this information anywhere else”
- “We just need your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship”
- “We’ll do all the work. You just pay a processing fee”
- “The scholarship will cost some money”
- “You’ve been selected by a national foundation” you haven’t heard of
If you believe you have been targeted or fooled by a scam, file a complaint with the FTC.