As A Big Student-Loan Deadline Looms, Be Sure You're Using The Right Web Site

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Do you enjoy wasting hours when you're trying to meet a tight deadline to get federal aid for a college loan? Just log on to www.fafsa.com, and sign up for an ID, then spend hours getting material to answer all their questions.

Ignore the many times an ad pops up, trying to sell you "professional help to guarantee you will get all the financial aid possible."

WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T FALL FOR THE FREE SERVICE THROUGH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, AT WWW.FAFSA.ED.GOV. (Because that "ed.gov" address will only result in an easier, much less expensive experience, and who wants that?)

Then, when the phone rings -- and it will -- rebuff the fafsa.com salesman who's trying to give you that professional help for a minimum of only $79.99. Don't worry that he personally has access to EVERYTHING about you except what type of condom you prefer. He knows your Social Security number, your parents' Social Security numbers, their incomes, their net worth, and what type of condoms THEY prefer.

Wait until the final day to file the form in order to meet your dream college's deadline. Then revel in delight as you find out you are "locked out" of your own account, just as you are trying to finish it and file. Was that telemarketer having a bad day (he could be jealous that he never was able to graduate college), or is this what happens to everyone who doesn't pay the extortionists -- er, financial aid factiliators at www.fafsa.com?

Then, spend an hour on hold to try and speak to a www.fafsa.com supervisor to find out wtf.

But be sure you schedule enough time in your day to completely re-fill out the proper, appropriate, CORRECT form on www.fafsa.ed.gov. Googling "fafsa.com scam" produces so many links, we should have started this process 17 months ago to read them all.

When a lead supervisor with the entity's Client Relations Department answers -- Greg Parrish, who's earned his title -- we completely see the error of our ways:  A disclaimer on the homepage advises they are NOT affiliated with the Department of Education. (However, if you don't yet have a college degree, are you really going to stop and weigh what that has to do with applying for a FAFSA? If many high school seniors don't read at the level of a high school senior, you can imagine their knowledge about governmental entities.)

"It is not to our benefit to dupe people," Parrish told us. He said part of their service includes phoning clients to remind them of their school and state timelines for filing: "They (FAFSA) don't harass you about deadlines," he chuckled.

Those who fill out the www.fafsa.com form, but don't pay, don't get it submitted to the federal government. So for those of us too thick or too weary to note the website's disclaimer, the telemarketers probably need to point that out. "I'll be glad to pass along that feedback," Parrish said. He rightly pointed out (to our chagrin) that a website extension of ".com" automatically means it's for profit. We knew something was bugging us during this process.

Because we've already paid an accountant, we don't want to shell out additional money to his group. So we've gotta run, and start over FROM SCRATCH to get this sucker in today, to www.fafsa.ed.gov.

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