Aug 09, 2016

NGPF Podcast: Tim Talks to Financial Aid Author, Kristina Ellis


Kristina Ellis stopped by the NGPF podcast to share the insights from her new book, How to Graduate Debt Free. In our conversation, Kristina discusses the sobering “money talk” she had with her Mom when she was a freshman in high school and how that spurred her into action to find ways to pay for college. She answers the most common questions that college bound students and their parents have, including the following:

  • What is the best way to research scholarships?
  • When is the right time to be thinking about scholarships?
  • How can I best package myself to increase my odds of getting a scholarship?
  • What are the factors that I should consider when selecting a college to ensure that I get a return on my investment?



  • 0:00~1:21 – Introduction
  • 1:21~3:20 – How to graduate from college debt free
  • 3:20~4:32 – Extracurricular activities Kristina did in high school
  • 4:32~5:59 – Where to look for scholarships
  • 5:59~7:03 – How to package yourself when applying for scholarships
  • 7:03~7:54 – When is the right time to start thinking about scholarships?
  • 7:54~9:01 – How many scholarships did Kristina apply for?
  • 9:01~11:24 – How to calculate a college’s return on investment
  • 11:24~12:20 – Prestigious schools vs. schools worth your money
  • 12:20~14:48 – Teens getting jobs
  • 14:48~15:59 – Cutting your cost before you enroll in college
  • 15:59~19:48 – Student loan tips
  • 19:48~20:17 -A word from our sponsor, Next Gen Personal Finance
  • 20:17~21:38 – When and how families should plan on paying for college
  • 21:38~23:47 – Budgeting while in college
  • 23:47~26:06 – Student blind spots and concerns
  • 26:06~26:58 – Advice to give your 18 year old self
  • 26:58~27:24 – Best financial habit
  • 27:24~27:35 – Favorite online resource to research colleges
  • 27:35~27:52 – Three points Kristina would teach students if she only had 45 minutes
  • 27:52~28:14 – Recommended reading
  • 28:14~28:44 – Worst financial habit
  • 28:44~29:00 – Who comes to mind when you hear the word “successful”
  • 29:00~29:41 – Kristina’s billboard message
  • 29:41~30:45 – How to Graduate Debt Free
  • 30:45~31:24 – Conclusion
Her books:

Other resources:

  • “I recommend using a few different [scholarship] databases, not just one, and come up with a list and take off to the races. Go use five or six databases because each database is going to generate a different list of scholarships. “

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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