NOVember 13, 2002

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SWOSU Financial Aid Office Warns Students and Parents of Services Charging Fees

Many area high school students and parents are currently receiving mail about various financial assistance programs for future college attendance.

Thomas Ratliff, director of the Southwestern Oklahoma State University Student Financial Services office in Weatherford, warns students and parents to be very careful with involvement in these programs.

"Most guarantee they can get you full college funding, but that is an empty promise since you can already get it without anyone's help," Ratliff said.

Students who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid are automatically considered for federal funding including Pell Grants, SEOG Grants, Federal Work Study, Federal Stafford Student Loans and Federal Parent PLUS Loans. Oklahoma residents are also considered for the state OTAG Grant by completing this form. Each of these is good funding sources that don't require the assistance of outside companies.

Since parents can borrow a Federal PLUS Loan for up to the full cost of attendance minus other aid, this one free program typically meets the promise these companies give, according to Ratliff. There are several companies that conduct these types of programs. He advises students and parents to use extreme caution if any fees are required for services provided by these companies.

"If they charge a fee to get you financial aid, walk away," Ratliff said. "Your money would be better saved for college."
The SWOSU Student Financial Services office holds free financial aid information nights throughout the year and the meetings are always open to the public.

Additional information is available by calling the SWOSU Student Financial Services office at (580) 774-3786.

Story contact: Brian Adler, 580-774-3063 or adlerb@swosu.edu