Back when my wife was applying for student loans, she called me in our office one day to look at a website. She was going to start filing her FAFSA forms (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) with the government, but had ended up on a site that was charging students at least $79 to file the forms. Turns out, she was on FAFSA.com instead of FAFSA.ed.gov, the official government student loan site. In yet another example of companies taking advantage of people (like the alternate “free” credit report sites), FAFSA.com bought the domain that was so close to the government domain in order to have people use their paid service instead of the free one. There are a lot of people who are not too internet savvy who have probably used FAFSA.com to file their applications that should have been free. Really, it is quite ingenious…and tricky.
The sneakiest part of all of this is that FAFSA.com, the fake site, still goes by FAFSA. But instead of it standing for “Free Application for Federal Student Aid”, it stands for “File your Application for Federal Student Aid”. Way down below the fold it says “Please note that this site is not affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education or the FAFSA on the Web site. FAFSA.com (Student Financial Aid Services, Inc.) completes, submits and tracks FAFSA applications”. These guys are sneaky – don’t let them fool you or anyone in your family. It is free to file for government-backed student loans and you should never pay for the service!