You get a call from an unknown number, and surprise! You have been selected to receive a free grant for college. Just share your credit card number for a shipping and handling fee of $3.99 from the grant officer. How simple is that?

While it sounds great and could really help you, it could be a scam.

We encourage all students to seek resources to help pay for college, but we want to remind students to do so wisely. As you seek scholarships and financial aid, it’s important to be SMART.

Share Wisely

  • Never give out personal information such as your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card.
  • Organizations that are granting you money will not secretly send or transfer money to your personal account. It will be important for the organization to report the gift of money appropriately. Therefore, a check will likely be issued directly to the school. Any other special form of payment should be a red flag.

Making Contact

  • The U.S. Department of Education will not call you and offer you financial aid. This federal agency works with millions of students and does not have staff to reach out to every student.
  • The Department of Education may send you automated emails as a reminder to reapply for aid, update your account information or student loan repayment; but communication should always include the official logo to reference Federal Student Aid. Also, look at the email address of the sender. It should reflect that it’s a governmental agency.

Applying for Aid

  • The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the best way to apply for financial aid. This secure and reputable site will get you the best award available. Here’s some tips for filing your FAFSA.
  • Online advertisements that mention “grant money available” are many times a misrepresentation of grant funding from the federal government through the FAFSA.
  • There are no special charges or extra costs associated with completing the FAFSA. Have questions on how to complete a FAFSA or need other assistance? Contact the Financial Aid Office of your college.

Repayment of Loans

  • Loan forgiveness programs offered by the Department of Education are for teachers or those who work in the non-profit sector. However, the government has a variety of repayment plans to consider if you need assistance in managing your student loans.
  • Advertisements on Facebook and other social media sites offer to help you navigate repayment of your student loans. However, many of the resources offered by the Department of Education are already FREE and don’t require you to pay a monthly or processing fee.
  • Need help navigating repayment? Call your loan servicer or college. It’s important to both organizations that you pay back your funds, so both are willing and ready to help you—even if it’s five years after leaving college!

Talk and Ask Questions

Not sure who is emailing or calling you? Ask some questions:

  • What organization are they calling from?
  • Are there costs or fee associated with using their program?
  • What’s their website? Is there a number you can call them back at?
  • How did they get your contact information?

Reputable and legitimate resources will be willing share this information, and if the offer is that legitimate, you’ll be able to follow up with them easily.

It can be hard to navigate paying for college. While it’s important to seek out as many resources to help cover costs and reduce debt, FRCC wants you to be SMART about your resources.

Not sure where to start? Contact the FRCC Financial Aid Office at 303-404-5250 or email us at Or make an appointment to meet with one of our campus scholarship coordinators.

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