Financial Aid Consultants: Do I Need One

If you have a child or children gearing up for college, chances are you have heard of Financial Aid Consultants. As with any type of financial consultant, there are legitimate ones and not so legitimate ones. The purpose of this section is simply to present factual information related to Financial Aid Consultants and services.

What is a Financial Aid Consultant?
A Financial Aid Consultant is someone hired to assist students and parents with the college financial aid process. Financial Aid Consultants provide college financial aid advice, help, and assistance beyond the services implemented at your school or university.

What Services do Financial Aid Consultants provide?
The services provided by Financial Aid Consultants can differ from consultant to consultant. Some of the basic services Financial Aid Consultants will provide are:

1. Offer advice on how to maximize financial aid and eligibility.
2. Publication/Distribution of college financial aid related literature.
3. Assistance in filing FAFSA and other related forms.
4. Help with finding scholarships.
5. Assist with any financial aid appeals.

Do I need A Financial Aid Consultant?
The question of “needing” a Financial Aid Consultant is a personal choice. Since paying for college is expensive, some parents and students may not have the financial ability to even consider a Financial Aid Consultant. Parents and students should keep the following in mind:

1. Your school or university offers free financial aid help.
2. The Federal Student Aid Information Center provides a free hotline 1-800-4-FED-AID for help with financial aid questions.
3. You may find free resources such as financial aid workshops within your own community.
4. Any (legal) tips or information a Financial Aid Consultant will give you, is public information that can freely be found at your local library or on the web.

If you are working with a Financial Aid Consultant and are doing (or being encouraged to do) any of the following, know that you are in fact committing fraud:

1. Overestimating your income on the FAFSA.
2. Lying about your assets.

There are fines and imprisonment penalties for providing false or misleading information on the FAFSA, so this is nothing to take lightly. More information can be found at: www.studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/lsa.jspĀ If you do decide to work with a Financial Aid Consultant, you MUST do your research. There are legitimate Financial Aid Consultants out there, but there are also scams.

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