Students navigating the labyrinth that is financial aid would be wise to seek guidance from Jodi Okun. The founder of College Financial Aid Advisors, Okun hosts #CollegeCash on Twitter and is one of's resident Money Experts.

Her new book, Secrets of a Financial Aid Pro: Master the College Funding Process and Give Your Child Lifelong Financial Skills Without Losing Your Cool, demystifies the financial aid process and helps students learn the financial skills they need for life.

We recently had a chance to ask Jodi about the struggles students face with paying for college and what families can do to decrease their financial burdens. Here's what she had to say.

Direct Textbook: You host free financial aid strategy sessions on Twitter via #CollegeCash. What can students (and parents) expect to gain from participating, and how can they participate?

Jodi Okun: #CollegeCash is an hour-long Twitter chat every Thursday at 5pm PT, 8pm ET. We come together and talk about financial aid tips and have live discussions focused on how you can easily navigate the college process. I invite industry professionals, parents and students to join the conversation.

It is a weekly opportunity to give you the chance to ask questions and hear from other parents and students going through the college admissions process. First, you need to find #CollegeCash and @JodiOkun on Twitter so you can both monitor and join in the conversation. Remember: If you ask a question or respond to someone in the chat, always include #CollegeCash in all of your tweets. This will ensure that your tweets get to the right audience!

DT: How does paying for college today differ from when contemporary students' parents were earning their degrees?

JO: College today is far more expensive than it has been in the past which makes it one of the most expensive consumer items for families.

DT: What is the most common mistake students and parents make when it comes to paying for college?

JO: I encourage families to begin the college cost conversation as early as middle school. Talk about what the family will have in savings, 529 plans, and other resources to pay for college and what price range students should be looking at when forming a list of colleges to apply to.

DT: Textbooks represent a major expense, estimated to cost nearly $5,000 over the course of earning a four-year degree. Why do you think students continue to purchase textbooks from campus bookstores when they can save up to 90% by comparing prices online?

JO: Students and families want to get off on the right foot when they start college - getting the word out about renting textbooks or buying used textbooks, even only buying the required textbooks without the recommended textbooks, are conversations that colleges can have with students during orientation, admitted student days, and through information packets.

DT: What is the single most important step parents and students can take to avoid post-graduation debt?

JO: Continue having the money talk during high school and through college. Know what it means to borrow for college and get educated on student loans. Being a responsible borrower can lead to healthy money decisions later in life.

Dubbed in Huffington Post as one of the "Top 30 Social Influencers in Personal Finance & Wealth," Jodi Okun is known for her smart insight on a range of 21st-century topics, including social media, entrepreneurship, and, especially, college financing.

She began her career as a financial aid officer, working with several top-tier colleges and universities, then in 2008 founded College Financial Aid Advisors, a successful company dedicated to helping families navigate the murky waters of financial aid.

Jodi's a social media expert as well. Her Twitter chat, #CollegeCash, receives an average of 10 million impressions a week. In fact, @JodiOkun has been cited as a Top 4 Twitter account on student financial aid.

She also shares her knowledge and advice on, where she's a Money Expert. She's even the Brand Ambassador for Discover Student Loans, where she helps educate parents and students about the true cost of college and how they can estimate the right funding mix to cover expenses.

Finally, Jodi leverages her entrepreneurial expertise with the Training Institute, an eight-week, online certification course designed to help entrepreneurs start small businesses or grow their existing ones.

    Jul 28, 2016    Comments     (3)   Share: Share This Page Share on Facebook Tweet This Share on Google Plus