FAFSA Scam on FAFSA.com

A FAFSA scam is a bad way to start off your hunt for financial aid. If you, or someone you know, is going to college, or starting at a university, then chances are you need to apply for financial aid. Even if you don’t think you’ll qualify, there are often partial grants, federal loans, and various work-study programs that can help pay for college. Remember: the legit FAFSA website is FAFSA.gov.

To apply for any federal financial aid, you’ll need to fill out a form called the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This form requires you to submit detailed financial information, which is verified against IRS records, and requires you to sign that all information is true under penalty of perjury. This is better than anyone else can really do as far as verifying your financial status, so many other financial aid grantors, including the universities themselves, rely on your submitted FAFSA.

You have to fill out a FAFSA every year you are in college to continue to qualify for need-based financial aid. This is not one of those programs where you fill something out once. The easiest way to submit your FAFSA is online at fafsa.gov

Note: That is GOV, not COM!

What Is the Real FAFSA Website

The real free FAFSA website is: fafsa.gov  – Do NOT use fafsa.com.

(Do be aware that fafsa.gov may redirect — automatically switch you — to fafsa.ed.gov which is the Department of Education’s website — ed.gov — this is OK.)

One more time, the FAFSA website url is fafsa.gov

FAFSA.com Scam

Unfortunately, where there is a government program, there are scammers looking to take money from unsuspecting citizens. In this case, the most important tip off for you should be that the first F in FAFSA stands for FREE. If someone is charging you money to fill out, or submit, your FAFSA, you are getting scammed, close your browser and start over. Do NOT enter any credit card or banking information. You don’t want your identity stolen by a fake FAFSA website.

Is FAFSA a Scam?

FAFSA is not a scam, but there is a FAFSA fake website. It is the one that ends with .com.

  • Is fafsa.ed.gov legit? It would be, but the U.S. Department of Education is trying to make it easier for everyone.
  • Is fafsa.gov legit? Yup, but it is going to redirect you to studentaid.gov which is the current official FAFSA website location.
  • What’s the Real FAFSA website? As of today, the real FAFSA website is part of studentaid.gov.

The real website for submitting your FAFSA is fafsa.gov (and now, studentaid.gov). It is a federal government website, and it uses the .gov extension. Unfortunately, someone has decided to make some money by using the domain fafsa.com, taking advantage of the fact that most people are more familiar with the common .com extension. Google gets it right, but if you “remember” the website and type in FAFSA.com, you won’t end up on the real FAFSA website.

fafsa scam and real website
Don’t be fooled by FAFSA.com

Now, in all fairness, the company does mention in several places on its homepage that it is not affiliated with the Department of Education, and that you can fill out your FAFSA for free. However, the colored button that attracts the most attention says simply, “File Online Now”, and more than a few unsuspecting folks have clicked there thinking they are filling out the form the standard way on the government’s website.

Technically, FAFSA.com is a company that “aids” you in filling out your form. They charge you $80 to do so. However, the FAFSA form is not complicated, and most people should be more than capable of filling it out on their own, thus saving $80. Plus, the FAFSA form asks for pretty much every single piece of identifying information you can have. When you use FAFSA.gov you are giving your social security number and tax information to the people that already have it, the Federal Government. When you use FAFSA.com you are giving your social security number and tax information to a third party.

Once you’ve clicked past that front page, you will fill in everything, they’ll ask you for your $80 payment and then they’ll submit your information. If you figure out your mistake somewhere along the line, most people I’ve talked to say they’ll only give you half of your money back, making using FAFSA.com an expensive $40 mistake for something that should be free.

Is FAFSA Down?

It used to be common for the FAFSA website down, and sometimes the FAFSA website would be offline for a long time. However, improvements in networks, the government’s websites, and the move to studentaid.gov make it less likely when you find the FAFSA website not working that it is actually the FAFSA website offline, and more likely that your own computer is the source of the trouble. Check your spelling, including missing letters that can sometimes be hard to see, espcially on mobile screens, or while using StudentAid.gov to fill out the FAFSA on a tablet or other mobile device with a smaller screen.


Pro tip: Even if you are already going to school, you can still contribute money to your 529 plan and then use it to pay for your costs. You may still be eligible for a state tax deduction on the contributions. You can get detailed instructions for opening a 529 plan online here. You can also use a Roth IRA to save for college and increase your financial aid in some cases.


By Brian Nelson – Brian is a former Certified Financial Planner and financial advisor and expert in personal finance. His writings appear in numerous financial websites and publications. When not writing, Mr. Nelson lives in Colorado with his wife and kids and a cat–a sort of stripey one. His freelance financial writing business is at ArcticLlama.com

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