A Parent's Guide to Making College More Affordable

Scholarships, FAFSA, Financial Aid, Loans and more

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  • Lectures 32
  • Video 2.5 Hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion

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Course Description

        Welcome to a Parent's Guide to Making College More Affordable!

        Getting accepted to college is one of life's biggest milestones – the culmination of years of hard work, and a moment of pride for your student and for you.

        Figuring out how you're going to pay for college, on the other hand, can be a stressful and confusing process. It is one of the largest investments your will ever make and you can’t afford not to get it right.

        Zinch created a Parent's Guide to Making College More Affordable for the busy parent who wants straightforward and simple, yet thorough answers on how to navigate the confusing process of paying for college. The course's unique self-paced format and combination of on-demand videos and live office hours was designed to work around your schedule and provide immediate answers and help when you need it most.

        The instructor, Jodi Okun, has been working in the college financial aid industry for over six years. Jodi began working at Occidental and Pitzer College in their financial aid offices helping thousands of families as a financial aid consultant. Jodi is also the founder of College Financial Aid Advisors, where she works closely with families to successfully navigate the financial aid process. Scroll down to watch one of Jodi's lectures (Top Financial Aid Tips) for free!

        A Parent's Guide to Making College More Affordable consists of the following content:

        - Over 30 video lessons covering:

        • The cost of college including creating financial aid timelines & using the net-price calculator
        • All about applications – FAFSA, CSS PROFILE, IDOC, NCP
        • What to do after you've applied including comparing packages and how to follow up
        • How to cover the gap through grants, loans, etc.

        - 14 hours of live “office hours” with Jodi Okun where you can connect with her directly and privately to ask questions related to your unique family situation.

        - Detailed, step-by-step walk-throughs on how to complete important applications: the CSS Profile (released in October) and the FAFSA (released in January) at no additional cost.

        - college timeline, budget worksheets and a downloadable dictionary of key terms.

        - Q&A postings after each lecture to ask Jodi specific questions.

        - Lifetime access to all course content and a 30-day money back guarantee.

What are the requirements?

  • All you need for this course is a computer and a willingness to work with your student to apply for financial aid and pay for college.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Over 32 lectures and 2.5 hours of content!
  • By the end of this course, you will have mastered the college financial aid process and be ready to send your student off to college!
  • We take you through the entire process - from preparing and keeping organized in the early fall, through completing the CSS PROFILE and FAFSA, to reading award letters and ultimately figuring out where your student will go to school and how you're going to pay the bill.

What is the target audience?

  • Parents of College-Bound High School Students
  • College-Bound High School Students
  • High School Guidance Counselors

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Introduction

Welcome to Zinch Presents: A Parent's Guide to Making College More Affordable! I'm your instructor, Jodi Okun. I have worked in the financial aid office at Occidental and Pitzer College helping families navigate the process of paying for college and for the past six years I have worked privately with families through my company, College Financial Aid Advisors. I also write about financial aid for the Huffington Post.

We have created 30 videos to help walk you through the process of navigating your student's senior year of high school and determining how you are going to pay for his or her college education. Over the course of the year, we will be adding additional videos as applications (CSS PROFILE and FAFSA) are made available.

In addition to the 30 videos, we have 14 live office hours sessions (1 hour each) where you can ask me anything you want. Our office hours schedule is below and we'll be sending reminders before each session to sign up! Don't want to wait until office hours? Then go ahead and simply post a question on our course page and I'll do my best to answer it in a timely fashion. All additional videos and my office hours are included in the cost of the course.

Again - thanks for signing up for our course and I look forward to helping you and your student along!

- Jodi Okun & Zinch

Upcoming Office Hours Schedule

(please click on the date to each office hours session to register)

All sessions are at 5:30/7:30/8:30 PM PT/CT/ET on Tuesday night unless otherwise noted and last for one hour.

December 17th

January 7th

January 14th

January 23rd (Thursday)

January 28th

February 11th

February 25th

March 11th

March 25th

April 8th

April 22nd

(Note: this video series was filmed in September of 2013 for the high school class of 2014. However, the advice should remain applicable year-to-year).


If you’re the parent of a college-bound child, you know that, like everything else these days, a college education is anything but cheap. And if you find yourself lost in the maze of financial aid assistance, banging into dead ends and having to constantly change your direction, you need help!

If you aren’t financially prepared for this stage of life, the hair on the back of your neck probably stood up when you realized just how much a good college education currently costs. You know you need help, but the financial aid process can be overwhelming and stressful. Couple that with the uncertainty of how you’ll react to your “baby” fleeing the nest and you’ve got a recipe for an emotional meltdown.

That’s where I come in. I’ve had the pleasure of helping many parents through the intimidating process of financial aid and am excited to share my Top Tips:

  1. Talking to your student about family finances. Focus on cost of college. Discuss with student about finances and what the family can afford for education with an open discussion.
  2. File your tax returns early. Check tax return due dates on on each college website. File tax returns well before April 15th in order to meet all college financial aid deadlines.
  3. Ask for help. Unless you’re a financial aid officer, you probably have questions about the financial aid process and the types of student aid available. For help, go to the FAFSA help section, leave a message for Jodi, contact your student's high school counselor or reach out to the college's financial aid officers.
  4. Make a copy of everything. Copy the FAFSA and all supporting documents.
  5. Student Portal. Set up the student portal using your student's login and password received from the college when admission application is sent to the school. Most communications will take place on student portal for financial aid or in and email to student (note: not all schools have a student portal; please check with each school individually once the admission application is submitted).
  6. Fill out the FAFSA. Filling out the FAFSA is one of the first steps in the financial aid process, and determines the amount that you or your family will contribute to your student’s college education. Just about every family is eligible for at least some type of financial aid, even those families who think they earn too much to qualify or who don’t think there are financial aid options available to them. Fill out the FAFSA and let the Department of Education determine the amount of financial aid you’re eligible to receive.
  7. Be careful filling out the FAFSA. Not filling out the FAFSA correctly is the main reason that families do not receive financial aid. While it only takes an hour to fill out, you need to make sure you take your time and do it right. We will be posting a line-by-line review video of the new FAFSA in early January (right after it comes out) so stay tuned for that!
Section 2: The Cost of College

If your child will be heading to college next fall, now is the time to prepare for applying for financial aid. The earlier you start, the less stressed you will be!

Your first step is to know what type of financial aid applications you will have to complete. Students won't be eligible for financial aid unless they complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. Filling out the FAFSA is a must for anyone who hopes to receive financial help from federal or state programs, as well as need-based aid from colleges themselves. The CSS Profile is another application that is required by many schools (more on the FAFSA and the CSS Profile later in the course).

Before completing either the CSS Profile or FAFSA, you'll need to have the following:

  1. Student and parents social security card
  2. Student and parents birthdays
  3. Student and parents driver’s license, and or alien registration card if you are not a US citizen
  4. Student income tax returns, W-2 forms and 1040 forms for the previous year
  5. Parent’s income tax returns- W-2 forms and 1040 forms for the previous year
  6. Current assets, bank statements and records of stocks, bonds, mutual fund, CD's and other investments
  7. Current mortgage information (CSS Profile only)
  8. Business or farm records
  9. Sibling information (age, school, cost of school) (CSS Profile only)

Remember to make copies of all documents and keep them in a financial aid file. You may be asked for this information multiple times.


The college planning timeline is a template you can complete in order to keep your student's college list on track to navigate the financial aid process. Use your web browser to search each college financial aid website and locate the dates and deadline section on the web. Go directly to your timeline and enter the information you found.

The financial aid process happens at the same time as the college application process. Staying organized is key.

Focus On:

Due Dates - Located on each college website under their financial aid section.


Early Action – Programs that allow students to be notified early about their admission without obligating them to attend that college. Even if accepted, students are free to apply to other schools and to compare financial aid offers.

Early Decision – Programs that bind the student to attend that college. Therefore the student cannot renege on their commitment unless they are not accepted.

If your student is applying early action or early decision, financial aid deadlines may moved up accordingly; pay close attention to these deadlines!


Colleges and universities across the country must now mount net price calculators on their websites to enable students and their families to get a better idea of the costs of education. The calculators - mandated by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 - are designed to estimate the cost of attendance, net of loans and grants.

But these calculators should be seen only as a baseline in determining your final costs, and it’s important to understand their limitations. Following are a few points to consider.

  1. Don’t expect the calculators to provide a complete, apples-to-apples cost comparison among colleges. For one, colleges don’t all use the same calculator. Some are custom-designed; others are based on a model provided by the U.S. Department of Education.
  2. Be aware that the estimates could be outdated. If you’re using the calculator now to plan for next fall, you could be looking at figures that are two years old because the costs used in the calculator are based on data gathered in December of each year, while a college’s financial-aid budget for the fall semester isn’t created until the spring before.
  3. Note the difference between “net price” and “net cost.” Colleges are mandated to provide a net price, defined as the price of attendance minus the average institutional or government grant aid for first-year, full-time students. But colleges also might subtract from that figure the value of loans and work-study to provide a “net cost” figure that’s significantly lower than the net value.

While the net price calculators’ output may be a good ballpark figure, don’t plan your budget based on this alone.

You may find each school's net price calculator by going directly to their website, or by adding a school to your school list on Zinch.com (so you can keep all net price calculator links in one easy place).

Here is an example of a net price calculator from the University of Colorado Boulder.


FAFSA - the name sounds funny, like they should do some FAFSA parody on late night comedy shows. But, if you need help paying for college, FAFSA is one of the most serious things you will do.

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. According to Federal Student Aid, “Completing the FAFSA is the first step toward getting federal aid for college, career school, or graduate school.” There are over $150 billion in grants, loans, and work-study funds available annually, but you can’t access any of that unless you complete the FAFSA first. Federal aid is available in three forms:

  1. FEDERAL GRANTS: This is money you receive which does not need to be repaid.
  2. FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS: You borrow this money and will need to repay it, but under favorable rates and conditions.
  3. FEDERAL WORK-STUDY JOBS: You get a job on campus and earn a paycheck that can help you pay for school expenses.

Eligibility for federal programs is based on your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The Department of Education has formulas it applies to your FAFSA information to calculate this amount.

Cost of Attendance (C. O. A.) - Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = Students Need


Merit Aid: Money from the college awarded without regard for financial need. This type of aid is usually awarded for a student’s academic achievements in high school, as well as for special talents and unique traits, such as musical or athletic skills.

Non Need Based Aid:

(Note: all aid that includes the word "loan" is borrowed money that needs to be paid back with interest).

Unsubsidized Loan – A non-need-based student loan on which interest accrues while the student is in college.

Plus Loans - A PLUS loan is available to the parent as a non-need based loan specifically because it is a credit-based loan, similar to a personal line of credit. They only require a modest credit check, so most parents can receive this loan. If parents don't pass the credit check, they may be able to reapply with extenuating circumstances or an endorser.

Private Loans - Are nonfederal loans, made by a bank or other lender.

Private Scholarships - Funds provided by private organizations or the government to help families pay for tuition and related educational costs.

To search for private scholarships, go to Zinch.com/scholarships. There you can get personalized matches to over one billion dollars in awards and never miss a scholarship deadline with customized reminders and notifications.


Review of what was covered in "Cost of College" section.

- Start early to aviod stress and last-minute scrambling

- Build your college timeline using the worksheet provided

- Check out the Net Price Calculator for the colleges where your student plans to apply

- Overview and definition of Financial Aid

Get ready for your quiz!

5 questions

Alright, let's see what you learned!

Section 3: Applications

If your student is a senior in high school, the college financial aid process is really gaining momentum. October is a very busy month and it’s important to stay on track with your planning efforts. The following is a comprehensive list of items you should be concentrating on at this time of year. Review it carefully to be sure you’re not missing any important steps or deadlines.

  1. Create a schedule of admission, financial aid and scholarship deadlines.
  2. Narrow your college choices down to several finalists and collect cost information from each school. Create a separate folder for each school to keep information organized.
  3. Gather information about scholarships offered at the colleges on your short list and note any you might qualify for.
  4. Apply for college scholarships and grants and investigate student loans.
  5. Request a Personal Identification Number (PIN) online at www.pin.ed.gov. (You’ll need your PIN to file the FAFSA electronically.)
  6. If you haven't already done so, attend college planning and/or financial aid information nights and college fairs
  7. Visit your top school choices. If possible, make appointments with faculty, staff, and students.

So there you have it; it’s time to get busy!


Get comfortable with the FAFSA process as you will be completing this form every year you attend school. The new FAFSA comes out on January 1st, 2014. In early January, we will post a new, comprehensive video with a line-by-line training on how to properly complete the FAFSA. All students will be sent an email alerting you once the video is posted so be on the lookout!

It is always best to complete this form as soon as possible as some student aid programs are administered on a first come, first-served basis. Some states also want you to file early and many schools have deadlines that fall early in the year. You can file your FAFSA online at www.fafsa.gov.


  1. Request a Personal Identification Number (PIN) online at www.pin.ed.gov. (You’ll need your PIN to file the FAFSA electronically.)

For best results, you must fill out the FAFSA correctly the first time. Stay tuned for a bonus FAFSA video - a line by line instruction on filling out the FAFSA - coming in early January.


CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE is the financial aid application service of the College Board. More than 500 colleges, universities, graduate and professional schools, and scholarship programs use the information collected on the PROFILE to determine eligibility for non-federal student aid funds. The CSS PROFILE comes out on October 1st.

First off, you should see if any schools or scholarships on your student's list require the CSS PROFILE. You can click here for the complete list. If your student is not applying to any of the listed schools then you can skip over this and the next two lectures (IDOC and Noncustodial PROFILE). If one of your student's schools is listed, then read on.

The PROFILE is a fully web-based application system that provides students a secure and efficient method for reporting their financial data to higher education institutions.

How to Register. PROFILE applications are customized for each student, based on information you supply during registration. Customization allows the PROFILE to respond to the unique needs of each applicant and provides a streamlined application process by asking only the questions that pertain to your family and financial situation.

When to Register. You should register for PROFILE as soon as you're sure about where student is applying for aid. This should be at a minimum of two weeks before the earliest college or scholarship program priority filing date your student needs to meet.

Fee Waivers: Upon completing the CSS PROFILE, you will be alerted as to whether you are eligible for a fee waiver. Waivers are based on the financial information that you entered in your profile.

Look for our bonus video for a line-by-line lesson on how to complete the CSS Profile - available in early October! We will send an email reminder to let you know when that video has been posted.


A subset of colleges that require the CSS PROFILE also require additional information to be "snail mailed" to the school - this is called the IDOC.

Review IDOC requirements located below:

  1. Cover sheet
  2. Verification form
  3. Tax return

To see if your student needs the IDOC you can check the following three locations

  1. IDOC
  2. Confirmation on CSS Profile
  3. Your college timeline excel spreadsheet (downloaded in Lecture 4).

The Noncustodial PROFILE (NCP) is also only requested by a small subset of CSS PROFILE schools. Follow this link to see which schools require an NCP.

If parents are separated or divorced and an NCP is required by your student's school, the noncustodial parent (who the student lives with less than 50% of the time) must complete this form.

Section 4: What Happens Next

Once you have submitted the FAFSA, you should receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) via email. The SAR is a summary of the information you provided on the FAFSA. Please save a copy and review for accuracy.

Click here for more information on the Student Aid Report.

You will now begin the verification component of the financial aid process.


Every college that your student applies to will have a separate process to verify financial aid. Typically this is run through a student portal. Your student should receive a prompt to create a login and password to each school's portal. Staying active and on top of each student portal throughout the verification process is key to ensuring that you receive the maximum amount of financial aid.

(Note: not all schools have a student portal. You will receive specific instructions from each institution on how the verification process with occur.)


When you completed the FAFSA, you used estimated numbers from your previous tax return.

Once you have filed your tax returns for the new year, you must go back and update these estimated numbers with real numbers.

While your tax return isn't due until April 15th, you will want to complete it earlier to ensure there are no delays in financial aid and you do not miss any deadlines.

Ideally you can file your taxes in early February. This will make the rest of the financial aid process that much easier.


Your financial aid applications will be reviewed by each college during the months of February, March and April.

During this time, schools may request additional information and documentation via the student portal. It is important to stay on top of these requests and respond in a timely fashion to move the process along and ensure there are no holds or delays on your financial aid application.

This is also a good opportunity to work with your student to have him or her take ownership of the process and become more self-sufficient.


The Free Application For Student Aid (FAFSA) may not always portray a clear picture of your financial situation. If your family has undergone economic hardship over the past year (medical expenses, death, job loss or other significant loss of income), you should contact the college's financial aid office and let them know of the situation as you may be eligible for additional financial aid.

For more information on special circumstances you can go to FAFSA Special Circumstance.


The verification process – which is the financial aid version of an audit - actually began in the 2011-12 school year. Although the process is fairly new, in prior years both the federal processor or the colleges themselves could select students for verification and each school had to verify a minimum of 30% of their applicants. By checking the student portal, families are able to stay on top of the verification process and turn in documentation as requested by each individual college.

But beginning with the 2012-2013 school year, the Department of Education became the only federal processor that will determine who is selected for verification. The rules of thumb are:

  1. If families estimate tax information, they will probably be verified.
  2. When families file the FAFSA online, they will see an explanation in the financial section about the tool that is the IRS verification tool.
  3. Household verification form - confirms who lives in the home - plus more information
  4. Non Tax filer statement form - if the student or parent is not in not filing a tax return

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool allows applicants who have already filed their federal income tax returns to populate the answers to some questions from the FAFSA by transferring data from their federal income tax returns. The Tool is mandatory for all families to use after their tax return has been filed. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool has been available since the 2009-10 award year.

For more information go to IRS Retrieval Tool.

5 questions

Get that pen and paper out - it's quiz time!

Section 5: Congratulations (you've been accepted!)

Congratulations! Your student has been accepted!! Take some time to stop, smell the roses and congratulate your student on all the hard work he or she has put in to get to this moment!


Three weeks (give or take) after your student gets in, he or she will receive the unofficial award letter. Have your student check the school's student portal to view the award letter. Continue to gather award letters in order to compare the cost of college for each school so you and your student can make an informed decision.


If your student has been accepted at multiple colleges and were awarded competitive financial aid packages, you should congratulate him or her. Your student is in a great position to find the perfect school and have a great college experience!

While your student compares award letters from colleges and universities, remember to look at the big picture - your student will be studying and living at the school for a few years - two or three if attending a community college - and four or five if attending a traditional college or university.

While being awarded enough college money to help pay for school is a major component of the family’s decision, your student will also want to make sure to choose a school where he or she will be enriched by the college program and will enjoy the student culture.

The most affordable school may not be the right school in the long run if the student is unmotivated, unchallenged and unhappy throughout their college education. Be sure they make a decision that balances their financial situation with your student's educational goals and best prepares him or her for the future.

Comparing college financial aid award letters will help your family understand what you will owe the college. We are attaching a sample budget worksheet for you to use as a template.

Please follow directions and add information for each college into the budget worksheet attached.

Section 6: Paying the Bill

Once your student commits to their college by May 1st - do the happy dance and buy some gear proudly displaying the college name and mascot!

Now, please keep your eyes open for other verification needs from the college and your student's official financial aid award letter.

Note to self - continue to check emails or other communication methods to keep the financial aid award process moving forward and answering all requests from the financial aid office


Grants - Free money

To learn about grants, read below and check out the federal student aid department's website.

  1. Federal grant

Pell Grant - The Pell grant is a foundation grant, which is strictly for undergraduate students seeking a Bachelor's degree. To qualify, the FAFSA must show that the family makes under $60,000 and the student must be enrolled at least half-time.

Children of certain deceased military service members may be eligible for a Pell grant; however, students who are incarcerated in a state or federal prison are not eligible. Illegal non-citizens of the United States are also considered ineligible for this grant.

The Pell grant can be moved from one college to another. For instance, if a student receives a Pell grant during their first two years at a community college, they can still receive Pell grant funding when they transfer to a four-year institution. However, students cannot receive Pell grant funds for more than one school during a single pay period.

Pell grants are available to all students who are eligible. Pell Grants do not have to be repaid.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) - FSEOG grants are available only to undergraduate students whose FAFSA indicates exceptional financial need. Usually, this grant is awarded if the student receives the Pell grant — in fact, students who do receive a Pell grant are given priority for the FSEOG grant.

A college’s financial aid director determines the amount of the award, but it usually falls between $100 and $4,000 per year. The exact amount will be based on need, as well as any other financial aid received, when the student applies for the grant, and the funds available at the university. Therefore, it is to a student's advantage to apply early, while funds are still available.

To be eligible to receive the FSEOG grant, a student must attend college on at least a half-time basis. He or she must be an undergraduate pursuing their first Bachelor's degree.

Not all students who are eligible will receive an FSEOG grant. First, they are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis; therefore, those who apply early are most likely to receive this grant. Unlike Pell grants, all schools do not offer FSEOG grants, so it's important to find out if the college participates in the program. In addition, each school has a different deadline to apply for the grant.

And the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) is for exceptionally needy students with the lowest Expected Family Contribution. So the student has to be a Pell grant recipient in order to get it and then has to have a very low EFC in order to get the SEOG.

There are also campus-based programs that give additional grants under a campus-based program budget – this is strictly campus-by-campus. Also, campus-based programs such as the work study program that we talked about earlier—a job on campus and the federal government directly funds it.

  1. State grant - see details in your state for requirements
  2. Institutional grant - Can awarded to students based on need as per the financial aid director

There are four types of loans (we will review each of these in subsequent lessons). They are:

  1. Subsidized Loan - A need-based Stafford loan for which the government pays the interest while the student is in college.
  2. Unsubsidized Loan - A non-need-based student loan on which interest accrues while the student is in college.
  3. Perkins Loan - These student loans are one type of self-help federal aid. Perkins loans offer the lowest interest rate to students who complete and file the FAFSA and meet the eligibility requirements. In order to receive a Perkins loan.This interest does not accrue while the student is still enrolled in college or during the nine-month grace period after the student graduates or is no longer enrolled.
  4. PLUS Loan - PLUS loans are strictly for parents to supplement the costs of their dependent child's college education. These loans are not need-based.

Before awarding a subsidized loan, a college will first evaluate a student's need. Those who receive a subsidized loan will receive amounts that are divided into increments. They include a freshman package $3500, a sophomore package $4500, a junior package $5500.

Subsidized loans do not accrue interest while the student is in college, and the student doesn't have to begin to repay the loan until six months after they have graduated or stopped attending college. This loan is in the student's name, not the parent’s.


Unsubsidized loans are not need-based; therefore most students will qualify for this type of loan. However, it carries a higher interest rate than a subsidized loan and that interest does begin to accrue while the student is attending college. The Unsubsidized loan is in the students' name, and it does have to be repaid. It is the least desirable student loan but is still generally more desirable than private loans.

It's important to note that students may receive either a subsidized loan or an unsubsidized loan, or both.


While subsidized loans and unsubsidized loans are for students and are legally in the student's name, PLUS loans are strictly for parents to supplement the costs of their dependent child's college education. These loans are not need-based.

To determine the maximum amount an eligible parent can receive under a PLUS loan, subtract all financial aid received from the college's cost of attendance. The interest rate in these loans, which is fixed at 6.41%, does accrue while the student is still enrolled at school, as well as during the grace period.

To be eligible to receive a PLUS loan, the loan applicant must be a custodial parent as documented on the FAFSA. Stepparents may qualify if their financial information was used when performing the financial need analysis. The parent must be a citizen or an eligible non-citizen.

If families are finding themselves still in need to fill the gap in order to pay the bill, private student loans remain an option but should be your last resort.


The Master Promissory Note is an online document explaining the terms and conditions of your loan. The parent and student for the first year must sign on to studentloans.gov to complete this basic form acknowledging that you understand the details of the loan. This is only applicable to federal direct loans from the government - not for private loans.


If your student decided to take out a federal student loan for the first time, he or she might be required to complete something called entrance counseling, which is designed to help your student understand the consequences of the student loan decision and answer some basic questions online. Think of it like the driver license written test.

Section 7: Course Wrap Up

Congratulations! You've completed the video portion of this course. We applaud your dedication and commitment to taking your student's college future so seriously. Now, just because you've watched all of the videos, that doesn't mean the course is complete. You can ask me (Jodi) questions on any topic - either on the course page or during one of my office hours sessions (see the schedule below).

We will also be adding videos to the platform periodically (CSS Profile, FAFSA and others) to make sure we're meeting all your needs.

Again, thank you for participating in this course. I truly hope you found it helpful and wish you and your student much success in the future!

- Jodi Okun & Zinch

Upcoming Office Hours Schedule

(please click on the date to each office hours session to register)

All sessions are at 5:30/7:30/8:30 PM PT/CT/ET on Tuesday night unless otherwise noted and last for one hour.

December 17th

January 7th

January 14th

January 23rd (Thursday)

January 28th

February 11th

February 25th

March 11th

March 25th

April 8th

April 22nd

(Note: this video series was filmed in September of 2013 for the high school class of 2014. However, the advice should remain applicable year-to-year).

Section 8: Application Walkthroughs and Bonus Videos

The CSS PROFILE is probably the longest, most thorough financial aid form you will encounter. In this video, Jodi does a line-by-line walkthrough of the entire application to guide families through the process. It is recommended to watch this video as you complete the CSS PROFILE.

(Note: ideally you make this video fullscreen on one computer while completing the PROFILE on another computer).


The new FAFSA was just released on January 1st. In this video, Jodi does a line-by-line walkthrough of the entire application. Please watch this video as you work alongside your student to complete the FAFSA. It is recommended to complete the FAFSA by the end of January to meet all priority deadlines.

(Note: ideally you make this video fullscreen on one computer while completing the FAFSA on another computer).

Instructor Biography

Jodi Okun has been working in the Financial Aid Industry for over six years. Jodi began working at Occidental and Pitzer College in their Financial Aid office helping thousands of families as a Financial Aid Consultant. Jodi is the founder of College Financial Aid Advisors where she works closely with students to successfully navigate the financial aid process.

Okun hosts #CollegeCash a live twitter seminar held every Thursday from 10:00 -11:00 pm EST. Each week participants include industry professionals, students, parents and teachers coming together to share information. She is a writer for the Huffington Post and hosts a podcast show called “The Jodi Okun Show.”

Okun is the Faculty Director at the Training Institute, an 8-week online Certification Program to help entrepreneurs open a new small business or add on to their existing business.

Recently, she was ranked number four on ‘The Top 99 Twitter Accounts Covering Financial Aid.’

Instructor Biography

Zinch (a Chegg service), College Admissions and Higher Education

Zinch is a free website that helps high school students connect with best-fit colleges and scholarships. Every year, over one million high school students utilize Zinch to get connected to their best fit schools and find scholarships.

We created this course to help with a pain point we identified in the college application process: helping parents figure out how they are going to pay for their students' college education. Please click over to read more about this course's instructor, Jodi Okun.

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