At just 26-years-old, Jessica Brown is the CEO of her own company, collegegurl.com. After being laid off from her job at Howard University, Jessica wasn’t sure what her step should be. Knowing that she had extensive knowledge in navigating the various ways in which to pay for college, Ms. Brown decided to turn that knowledge into a business. Prior to starting the website, Jessica Brown was a Coordinator of Special Awards and Financial Services Counselor at Howard University and then Strayer University. According to Jessica, she “served 40,000 students and assisted in granting millions of dollars worth of scholarships.” With the launch of collegegurl.com, Jessica Brown aims to give prospective college students and their families as much information as possible on the numerous ways to pay for a college education.
The first thing that Ms. Brown advises students and their families to do is to fill-out the FAFSA (free application for federal student aid) application. She wants applicants to realize, “The financial aid awarding process is first come, first serve.” So it’s best to apply well in advance of the start of the school year. Ms. Brown tells students not to get caught up with going to their dream school if it’s not financially feasible. She reminds them, “The same professors at your dream school are teaching at lower priced schools. You can get a quality education anywhere. Education is what you make it.” Another piece of sound advice that Ms. Brown gives to students and their families is to review their annual income and expenses when budgeting for college expenditures. This needs to be done because it “…gives you a blueprint of where you—or your parents—stand financially.”