Personal Financial Planning from Lisa A. Mrkall, CPA, MBA

Welcome to the inaugural article in a series of articles addressing various topics and questions our clients have brought to us as their trusted advisors related to personal financial planning.

Our individual and business clients are facing new challenges every day in this very dynamic economic environment. Many of these challenges are related to saving money, paying less taxes, planning for the futures, and simple everyday worries about our finances that so many of us share. We’ve gathered together some of the most common topics presented to us and will share our thoughts, ideas and expertise in these areas. We will also bring you information on changes in the financial planning space, such as the new and improved FAFSA form to be released in December. This is just one example of a current and important topic that are clients have concerns about how to navigate. We hope you enjoy these articles and find them useful, if not now, at some point in the near future.

Before I begin my first article today, I’d like to introduce myself and what led to this new area of focus for me and our firm. I have 17 years of experience working at Tronconi Segarra and Associates and over 20 years in public accounting. My areas of focus include individual & small business tax preparation, planning & consulting. Problem solving, working with the tax authorities, analyzing tax implications of personal and business transactions has led to a host of opportunities to begin to provide my clients with a more holistic approach to their individual financial and tax dilemmas. I have found this type of work to be extremely rewarding and look forward to many more opportunities to assist clients in planning for their futures.

In the way of providing some timely information this fall on planning for college, I wanted to share an update for those of you involved in helping pay for college or career school. If you are working with your high school aged children this fall to apply to schools and sort out acceptance and financial aid packages, you should be aware of the upcoming launch of the revised FAFSA® website and application. The FAFSA®, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a form completed online each year a current or prospective student plans to attend college or career school to determine their eligibility for student financial aid. Each year the online application typically becomes available in October where the application is completed for the following academic year. This year, the October release of the application is delayed to December and will include major changes and improvements to the form. According to the U.S. Office of Federal Student Aid, the form will be redesigned and provide a streamlined user experience for students and their families. Applicants will be able to skip as many as 26 questions, depending on their individual circumstances and some applicants will need to complete as few as 18 questions, taking less than 10 minutes.

One way to prepare now for the launch of the application for the 2024-2025 academic year is to create the account, keeping a record of your username and password so you can access and submit the form when it’s available. This is available at Providing your current email address will ensure that you receive up-to-date notifications and information regarding the FAFSA®. To facilitate the application process in December, it is recommended that the student gather some key information now including the students Social Security Number, the parents’ Social Security Numbers if the student is a dependent, record of tax information, records of child support received, current balances of cash, savings and checking accounts, net worth of investments, business and the name, dates of birth of the contributors.

Once you submit the FAFSA® form online the U.S. Department of Education will process it within 3-5 days. Your information is then sent to the colleges you listed on the form and from there the college determines federal and nonfederal student aid eligibility. The aid offer is then issued to the college applicant at which point the new college applicant can compare the offers from the various schools to help in the college decision-making process.

In addition to college financial planning, we look forward to identifying many more planning topics to share with you. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions or concerns in this area.

Lisa A. Mrkall, CPA, MBA


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