The price of college: Financial aid scams

Beware the financial aid scams: pointers with Gardener Humphreys

Financial aid scams are an ongoing issue in high schools, but risks rise during the spring when students are looking to apply to colleges.

There are many options for financial aid, or money students can earn for college, but some can do more harm than good. College and Career Center Specialist Gardener Humphreys said he’s working to provide students with resources to identify and avoid financial aid scams.

“People just get stressed about affording college,” Humphreys said. “Whenever people are afraid of something, that’s a great opportunity to try to take advantage of them.”

He said students should look out for any companies making financial aid appear harder than it is.

“I tell people to look out for things promising money, [and] people who are saying that the process is impossible or super complicated and that you need an expert,” he said. 

Humphreys also said to look out for any fees the company requires.

“And of course, any place that asks for a fee to do something like filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or look for scholarships,” Humphreys said.

Financial aid and scholarship information are available on public websites, Humphreys said, like and College Board.

“None of it’s under lock and key,” he said.

Fairfax County Public School has information on the Naviance website about local scholarships too, which Humphreys said are easier to win.

He also said he tries to show students that college financial aid advisors are there to support them.

“People should know that colleges do want to give them the amount of aid that they can,” he said. “Once the college has decided to accept you, they do want you to attend and they do want you to be able to stay in school and not drop out because you can’t afford it.”

If students do come across a financial aid scam, Humphreys said, they should report it to the Federal Trade Commission’s website.