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Financial aid warns students of unnecessary charges

By ANDREW FROBEL
On January 27, 2012

A company is attempting to charge Marshall University students for services that are offered for free elsewhere.

The company called Student Financial Resource Center has been sending letters to Marshall students. According to the letter, students can receive financial aid by completing a Student Aid Profile Form and sending it back to the company with a $59 processing fee.

The Office of Financial Aid has sent out three types of messages to Marshall students, through mail, email and Facebook to notify them of the unnecessary charges being requested by the company.

"I don't want students to have to pay for something they really don't have to pay for," said Kathy Bialk, student financial assistant. "It is completely legal for somebody have a company to help families complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is completely legal, but that service is free, either by calling the FAFSA, the United States Department of Education or contacting Financial Aid staff. You don't have to pay someone to get assistance to complete the FAFSA," Bialk said.

Emily Looney, sophmore pre-health professions major, said she tried to ignore the letter, but her mother was worried she actually needed to have this form illed out and told her to complete it before the start of spring semester. However, Looney said she has never sent in any of her information to the company.

Looney said at least three of her friends got the same letter in the mail.

"I didn't want to fill it out," Looney said. "We grew suspicious when we saw there was a $59 fee that was included in the form just to apply."

Bialk said she doesn't have an exact number on how many students have received this letter.

"All I know is that we have received several phone calls regarding the Student Financial Resource Center letter," Bialk said.

This is the first time Bialk said she has seen a letter of this type at Marshall but she said financial aid charges like this one have been going on for decades.

"This really bothers me that a company has included the university's name and some of the student's information on this form," Bialk said.

Bialk said the Office of Financial Aid is doing everything possible to keep students aware of the problem.

A call was made to the number for the Student Financial Resource Center printed in the letter. The person who answered the phone said no one was available for comment.

Andrew Frobel can be contacted at frobel@marshall.edu.

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