Parents And Students Mistakenly Pay Fee To File FAFSA

March 14, 2012

Making payment onlineMany prospective college freshmen and their parents are making the mistake of filing their Free Application for Federal Student Aid through a website that charges for the service.

The website,, is often at the top of the page in a Google search for "FAFSA," which is apparently why so many have been misled. Those who use the site must pay about $80 for the service. The actual website where families can submit their FAFSA at no charge is located at

"The amount of money they're charging for something that's free is the biggest concern," said Elsa Martinez, a financial adviser for the nonprofit ACCESS, who was interviewed by WBZ-TV. "The reason why the federal government makes it free is because most of our students don't have the funds to pay."

According to the Times-Tribune in Kentucky, financial aid offices at Eastern Kentucky University, Union College, Somerset College and University of the Cumberlands have all heard from parents and students who inadvertently used the fee-based website. Jessica Cook, director of financial aid at Union College, told the Times-Tribune that this year in particular, she's heard from more parents who used by mistake.

The website apparently does not just find customers through Google. As reported by The Record in New Jersey, students and parents recently received letters in the mail urging them to use Stacy Salinas, president of the New Jersey Association of School Financial Aid Administrators, said that the association planned to notify high schools of the need to warn parents and students about the letter.

Salinas noted that many families make the mistake of paying to submit the free application. "I've heard of parents who have spent all the way up to $1,000 for FAFSA help they could get for free," she told the Record.

Mary A.C. Fallon, communications consultant for Student Financial Aid Services Inc., which is the company behind, explained that the site is meant to simplify the process of submitting a FAFSA.

"The FAFSA is fairly complex," she told the Times-Tribune, noting that her company is meant to aid people who do not have the time or desire to complete the application. She added that the company is transparent about what they do, and that they have many repeat customers.

A glance at the company's website seems to corroborate her claims. On the top of the home page of is a message that clearly says, "We are not affiliated with the Dept. of Education." A box at the bottom of the page states, "Like filing your taxes, the FAFSA can be filed for free via paper or electronic forms without professional assistance at Many people, however, choose to use a FAFSA preparer, just like a tax preparer, to provide personal advice, consultation and review of their important FAFSA application."

Nevertheless, according to Steve Allen, vice president for student financial planning at the University of the Cumberlands, who was quoted by the Times-Tribune, students and parents seem to overlook such statements in their rush to complete the form once they see the word "FAFSA."

Compiled by Yaffa Klugerman


"Area Colleges Seek to Clear Up FAFSA Confusion,", March 2, 2012, Becky Killian

"Fair Helps Students, Parents Navigate College Aid Process,", February 26, 2012, Joan Verdon

"Students Warned About Site That Charges for Financial Aid Application,", March 2, 2012, Kathy Kurran

Career and Education News

Our News Writers and Editors

CityTownInfo Writers and Editors


Follow Us on Facebook
Follow Us on Twitter
Follow Us on Youtube

Career and College Resources on CityTownInfo

Real-World Career Reports

Career Stories from workers: daily activities, job tips, best/worst job aspects, training, etc.
Daily Career & Education News from our staff. We're an approved Google News provider!

Career References and Original Articles

Resource Center. A starting point for all CityTownInfo career and college resources.
Career Overviews of hundreds of careers: descriptions, salaries, forecasts, schools, more.
Best Careers Not Requiring Degrees: Good pay, job growth, low need for degrees.
Helpful Articles, many in "how-to" format; e.g., "How to Become a Chef".
Infographics covering employment and educational trends.

College Directories and Lists

These lists link to thousands of detailed school profiles.

Colleges by State. Nearly every college and trade school in the country.
Colleges Listed Alphabetically. About 7,000 colleges & trade schools, including online schools.
Colleges by Major City. Browse cities with multiple college options.
Online Colleges. Colleges with online degree programs.
Graduate Schools by State. Colleges offering graduate degree programs.
Graduate Schools by Major City. Find cities with multiple graduate school options.