By Bill Kahn, Series Contributor -Scams, Frauds and Cons

How many times have you seen the words “Get your degree in 30 days,” “College credits for real world experience” or “No studying required.” The pitch is usually accompanied by a huge list of degrees or majors offered by the college; just send money and you’re all set. Better yet, take that money and send it to your favorite charity, it will do much better than the worthless piece of paper you’ll get. Employers have come to recognize these phony diplomas and know you are trying to put one over on them. Caution, in some states, it can be illegal to use a degree from an institution that is not accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency, and for federal security jobs, don’t even go there.

But, maybe you just want to send your kid to college, but don’t have the money. Well, are you in luck, there are people out there drooling, waiting to help you get that money. Oh, there will be a fee required, but we guarantee results. Right! Make sure you’re wearing your track shoes! Beespecially weary of companies that state, “We have access to secret scholarships” or “You have been preapproved or specially selected for a scholarship-matching service.”There are no secret sources of federal or state student aid.

There are also those wonderful websites that warn of education grant scams, only to assure you that they are “genuine.” Yep, you’re right, they’re also scams! You might be lucky enough to be invited to a seminar to show you the way to the money pot. You’ll find that most of those prey on your fears of not being able to send your kid to college. They may use terms such as a “loved one’s future is at stake” to push you into their program. Again, all you need to do is pay a small fee to get the scholarship or grant. However, even small fees are scams. Legitimate scholarship or grant providers do not require applicants to pay fees.

Finding the words “Foundation,” “Federal,” National,” or “Administration” in a company’s title or promotional material doesn’t mean that it’s on the level or endorsed by any lawful entity. You also want to be cautious of names that are similar to well known reputable universities but are fake: “Oxford England University,” “Hardvard University” and “University of Britain.”

There are many legitimate free services provided by the government or the schools themselves that can help you through the scholarship and grant process. Don’t get sucked into the “Help for a Fee” service.

The “Reference Section” of will show a few of the organizations that can help you with financial aid. You will also find lists of schools that are not accredited by the U.S. Department of Education. Keep in mind that no list can be all-inclusive and new schools (and scams) appear every day, and many schools correct problems that get them on a list.

Bill Kahn

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