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The content published on our website is written within the context of  existing FAFSA rules.  These rules are subject to change for students entering or already in college in 2024.  Please read our newsletter to regular updates on the status of these proposed changes which, though codified into law, are still subject for revision by the Department of Education.

Meet Jim Novak

Jim has been in the financial services business for over 25 years, helping families and returning veterans with retirement planning.  He understands college funding and has helped many clients reduce their Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and increase their financial awards.  Jim is also a Certified Senior Advisor, helping the “sandwich generation” (those who have children at home and also need to take care of their elderly parents) manage their resources. Jim studied at the University of St. Thomas and the…

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Meet Jim Kraiss

Jim Kraiss has been a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) for over 29 years. He has taught financial planning at several area colleges, written multiple financial planning articles, and authored five books on the subject. His latest book, Living the Tax Free Life, has received rave reviews from readers and other financial advisors. With his expertise in designing non-assessable financial instruments for college funding and his previous long-term experience as a Series 7 and Series 63 securities advisor, he has been able…

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Meet Jack Schacht

Jack has over 40 years in marketing, management, career development and business leadership.  His first business, Career Counselors, launched the careers of hundreds of college graduate at major companies throughout the Chicago area. In 2006, Jack sold his most recent business (The Illinois Trade Association) which became the largest commercial barter exchange in the United States.  While at Illinois Trade Associate he and his team mentored hundreds of business owners on creative financial strategies to reduce expenses, improve cash flow…

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Meet Ginger Koontz

Ginger is passionate about leadership development and creating a workplace environment where employees can thrive. She brings 12 years of administrative experience, including 6 years of management experience and 4 years of event planning. During her most recent role with a local produce market, she was responsible for handling all aspects of the company’s finances and human resources, as well as the oversight of store operations. Ginger also has 16 years of ministry experience, during which she has mentored young…

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Meet Lisa Czarnecki

Lisa has spent 25 years in insurance and financial services, specializing in college planning, retirement, investment planning, employee benefits, and life, disability and long term care insurance. As an independent broker, she is able to live out her philosophy of focusing on each client's specific situation, customizing a personal plan that matches them with the best products to address their needs and providing ongoing monitoring and support. Lisa is a Certified Funds Specialist® (CFS®) and has completed three courses toward…

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Meet Stephanie Kennedy

Stephanie is president of Kennedy Educational Services and co-founder of My College Planning Team.  Stephanie holds a Master of Science in Counseling and College Student Development. A former admissions counselor, her team now helps students identify their passions and find the colleges that are the best fit academically, socially, and with career focus.   She has 18 years’ professional experience in college admissions and administration at several leading universities including the University of Miami, Northeastern University, Texas A&M University, and…

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Meet Mary Small

Mary Small has over 18 years in recruiting and management with Louis Knox Financial and Sequoia Financial Network, with nearly a decade focused on financial advisor recruitment and retention.  At Louis Knox she also managed the day-to-day tactical and long-term strategic activities within the business. As a mother of two college students, Mary understands the financial stress that parents of college bound children are experiencing and can help create financial solutions that will work for them. Mary lives in Bloomingdale,…

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