Finding money for college without getting ripped off


RIP-OFF ALERT: There’s a new warning from the Better Business Bureau about people who promise to have the inside track on scholarships and grants for college. I want to put out a special word of warning for parents of high school seniors who generally fall for these ploys.

Be especially wary of the promise that, “The scholarship is guaranteed or your money back.” That’s not gonna happen! Another popular come-on one is, “We will do all the work.” Do not believe anybody’s pitch about free seminars that address how you can pay for college. The punch-line to these “free” events is all too often, “Hey, sign this contract and pay us X number of hundreds or thousands of dollars for help — guaranteed.”

Here’s my advice:

  • If you want money, do the FAFSA. That’s a no-brainer.
  • If you have not saved for your kid’s college, don’t have a case of the guilts and clean out your retirement. Priorities in life are tough to set and many times it’s all about just trying to keep your head above water. Though paying for a child’s education is wonderful and worthy, it’s down the list when compared to saving for your own retirement.
  • Check for scholarship info.

Meanwhile,  Kipliner has a new list of the most affordable colleges in the country. There are wonderful public schools that cost a fraction of big name schools, and you can still get a great education at a very reasonable price.

Note: This segment originally aired February 2011

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