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If you're ever tempted by an e-mail or ad claiming you can "earn a degree based on life experience," don't fall for it. Any company that offers degrees for a flat fee and requires little course work is a diploma mill. If your school is not recognized as an accredited institution by the Secretary of Education, you may not be able to receive financial aid and employers won't recognize it. You can check on a school's accreditation by contacting the Department of Education or search the Council for Higher Education Accreditation's database.
Scholarships and financial aid do not require upfront fees. While there are legitimate companies who will help guide you through the financial aid and college application process for a fee, disreputable companies may ask you for money up-front and provide nothing in return. Red flags to watch out for include the following:
Page Last Reviewed or Updated: May 16, 2013