Beware of Financial Aid Scams


A few years ago a close family member contacted me for assistance with completing his Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). We discussed the differences between loans and gift aid (e.g. grants). In the coming weeks, we exchanged text messages and he asked me, “Are you sure FAFSA is free? I have completed my form and in order to be eligible for financial aid it reads that I have to submit my credit card information.”

I immediately called him and asked what website he was on. I informed him that the FAFSA has always been free and if there is a fee it’s a scam. Over the years, I have also come across websites seeking individual’s social security number and payment information to apply for scholarships. The FAFSA is free, hence the first word, “FREE” Application for Federal Student Aid, and organizations that award legitimate scholarships will not ask you to pay to apply.

Please read scholarship applications closely to avoid scams. Also, the only place online to submit your FAFSA is through: .

Remember to submit your FAFSA as soon as possible for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Feel free to contact me if you have questions.

Happy New Year!

~Dr. O




Election Day : Tuesday, Nov. 8th


I have conversed with many students who are now eligible to vote in an election. Individuals have expressed a range of feelings about the election including that they will not vote, being undecided who they will support, to their eagerness to participate in voting. For example, two weeks ago, one of my students shared her experience completing her absentee ballot for the upcoming 2016 election. I asked her how it felt to vote, and she shared, “I am happy that I get to vote for the next president.” During our conversation, she focused on the presidential election, but did not mention what is going on in her state or community. I understand the significance of selecting the new commander and chief of the United States of America, but I also think it is important to pay close attention to individuals who are campaigning for local and state positions.

I have asked myself a few questions, including, how will the decision I make at the polls impact the future of K-12 and higher education. As an educator, I understand how political decisions impact educational policies and resources. For example, the Pell Grant,which is legislated by Congress, provides funding for students who meet certain criteria. The maximum award from the Pell Grant has fluctuated over the years due to budget changes.

There are many factors to consider in this upcoming election in addition to the presidential nominees. Votes will also have to consider local and state propositions and/or referenda.  Some state websites have sample ballots for view prior to heading to the polls. I encourage everyone to vote and make informed decisions.




~Dr. O