Local News

Some Companies Charge Fees For Helping College Students Obtain Financial Aid

Posted January 14, 2002

— If you have a child in high school, he or she is probably busy looking at colleges and filling out applications, but there is some other paperwork you should be thinking about -- financial aid. One company claims it can help you get cash for college, but their help comes at a hefty price.

Green Hope High freshman Sarah Yandle, 14, already has her future planned.

"Go to Campbell University and then continue to law school," she said.

Like many families, the Yandles are stressed over putting their children through college, so when a letter arrived offering financial aid help, they were interested.

"Anytime somebody sends you something and you think that it's going to be a value to your child, I think you're going to be wanting to check into that a little bit further," said Tanya Yandle, Sarah's mother.

Elizabeth McDuffie of the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority said the same service is offered through any high school guidance counselor or the

College Foundation of North Carolina

for free. College Financial Aid Services charges as much as $1,000.

"They are preying on families that don't know that there is information available free," she said. "[It's] not illegal, possibly unethical. You don't need to pay $1,000. That is appalling to me. One thousand dollars in North Carolina will pay for a year of tuition at a community college."

The Yandles said they would have signed up and maybe even paid for the service had they not investigated first.

"It really bothers me that people will take advantage of other people like that," Tanya Yandle said.

WRAL could not contact officials from College Financial Aid Services. In the company's defense, some people have said that the approach is similar to that of tax preparers, who provide a paid service for something that is free.

On Feb. 9, the state will offer free financial aid preparation seminars all over the state.

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