The Price You Pay for College : An Entirely New Road Map for the Biggest Financial Decision Your Family Will Ever Make
Author(s): Ron Lieber
Named one of the best books of 2021 by NPR
New York Times Bestseller and a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice pick
“Masterly . . .represents an extraordinary achievement: It is comprehensive and detailed without being tedious, practical without being banal, impeccably well judged and unusually rigorous.”—Daniel Markovits, New York Times Book Review
“Ron Lieber is a gift.”—Scott Galloway
The hugely popular New York Times Your Money columnist and author of the bestselling The Opposite of Spoiled offers a deeply reported and emotionally honest approach to the biggest financial decision families will ever make: what to pay for college—a decision made even more confusing because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sending a teenager to a flagship state university for four years of on-campus living costs more than $100,000 in many parts of the United States. Meanwhile, many families of freshmen attending selective private colleges will spend triple—over $300,000. With the same passion, smarts, and humor that infuse his personal finance column, Ron Lieber offers a much-needed roadmap to help families navigate this difficult and often confusing journey.
Lieber begins by explaining who pays what and why and how the financial aid system got so complicated. He also pulls the curtain back on merit aid, an entirely new form of discounting that most colleges now use to compete with peers.
While price is essential, value is paramount. So what is worth paying extra for, and how do you know when it exists in abundance at any particular school? Is a small college better than a big one? Who actually does the teaching? Given that every college claims to have reinvented its career center, who should we actually believe? He asks the tough questions of college presidents and financial aid gatekeepers that parents don’t know (or are afraid) to ask and summarizes the research about what matters and what doesn’t.
Finally, Lieber calmly walks families through the process of setting financial goals, explaining the system to their children and figuring out the right ways to save, borrow, and bargain for a better deal.
The Price You Pay for College gives parents the clarity they need to make informed choices and helps restore the joy and wonder the college experience is supposed to represent.
“Masterly . . . represents an extraordinary achievement: It is comprehensive and detailed without being tedious, practical without being banal, impeccably well judged and unusually rigorous.”
“Lieber’s explanation of the system is probably the best I’ve seen from somebody outside it. His discussion of 'merit aid' even helped clarify some long-running arguments that have been mildly confusing me in faculty meetings for twenty years.”
“A deeply reported, conventional-wisdom-busting guide to a subject that many of even the most financially adept and prepared individuals find terrifying. The book arrives at a moment when families are re-scrutinizing the price schools charge for tuition; how much debt students take on, and what exactly is worth the money and why.”
"An impressively thorough and genuinely useful manual for people staring up the sheer cliff of college tuition payments . . . It also contains an implicit analysis and critique of higher education as a system, by acknowledging the inequities that exist at every level from recruitment to admissions to financial aid. It’s a how-to book that will also make you think, 'But why?'"
"Aims to provide parents and students financing their own way with the information they need to make more informed, financially sound goals and decisions."
"Lieber helps families navigate this all-important financial decision by pulling back the curtain on the financial aid system and asking tough questions of financial aid gatekeepers. The end result is a book that helps families determine what they value—a metric even more important than the sticker tag of college."
“Ron Lieber is a gift.”
“Ron will hold you by the hand, by the heart and by the head.”
“Books like these are conversation grenades. You throw them in a room and conversations break out.”
"[The Price You Pay for College] outlines higher education pricing dynamics with painstaking care and clarity. . . . Lieber offers an essential guidebook for helping each student to find their path forward.