An informative guide to the complexities of affording and paying for a child’s college education.

Secrets of a Financial Aid Pro


A handbook for families preparing to pay for college.

In this debut education book, Okun, an experienced college counselor, shares thorough and level-headed advice for understanding the factors involved in determining the cost of attending college and the options that exist for paying the amount due, acknowledging the challenges while urging parents not to become overwhelmed. While Okun guides the reader through the technical elements of college financing, like the expected family contribution, the FAFSA, and the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized student loans, the book gives equal emphasis to the importance of communication. Okun urges parents to begin discussions of the financial aspects of college early in the process, in order to prevent misunderstandings over who will pay—and how much—by the time the student is ready to enroll: “Having your child involved at each point along the way helps them understand what it means to be financially responsible.” [8] After an in-depth look at 529 plans, scholarship resources, and evaluating financial aid packages, the book’s final section addresses the personal finance challenges confronting college students, from easy-seeming credit card offers during orientation to the realities of loan repayment after graduation. Okun is clearly knowledgeable about the financial aid process, and the book’s explanations of complex and acronym-laden topics are easy to follow, and URLs point the reader to further information from reputable sources. The book does maintain a narrow focus on its intended audience—the parents of teenagers planning on full-time enrollment at a four-year college or university—and as a result does not address the financial aid challenges and funding opportunities facing non-traditional and part-time students. There is also no mention of the student-debt problems associated with for-profit colleges. But for readers who fit the book’s target demographic, Okun has provided a valuable tool in the college planning process by being realistic but not unduly alarmist about the challenges of paying for a child’s college education and strategies for making the financial burden a manageable one.

An informative guide to the complexities of affording and paying for a child’s college education.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-9973527-0-2

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2016

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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