The Price You Pay for College | Ron Lieber

Summary of: The Price You Pay for College: An Entirely New Road Map for the Biggest Financial Decision Your Family Will Ever Make
By: Ron Lieber


Embarking on the journey toward higher education can be an overwhelming, yet vital decision for students and their families. In ‘The Price You Pay for College’ by Ron Lieber, readers are given an entirely new road map to navigate the financial aspect of this significant decision. This illuminating book takes you through the complex and often confusing world of need-based financial aid and merit aid, while highlighting factors like the importance of mentorship, future earnings, and strategic investments in colleges. Discover how to assess unfamiliar colleges using key metrics and learn practical strategies for saving up for college. This book summary will empower you to make informed choices when it comes to investing in your education.

The Truth About College Costs

College is expensive, but most students pay less than the list price. Need-based and merit aid can add up to a significant discount off the list price of tuition. In the 2019-2020 academic year, the average full-time, first-year student attending college for the first time got a discount of 52.6 percent off the list price of tuition.

Navigating the FAFSA

The FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid is an application for financial aid from the US federal government. While financial aid is no longer just for low-income families, the FAFSA has earned a bad reputation due to its confusing nature and disappointing outcomes for many applicants. The government uses the FAFSA to decide how to divide its limited budget, and it calculates an expected family contribution (EFC) to determine aid eligibility. However, many families find that the EFC is far greater than what they can afford, and the aid they’re offered is substantially less than they need. Even with additional applications for nonfederal financial aid such as the CSS Profile form, different schools make use of the applicant’s information in various ways, leading to unpredictable outcomes. In short, if you need financial aid, be sure to apply for it, but don’t expect too much.

Prioritizing Pedagogy in College

College education has shifted to prioritize research over teaching, but parents expect their children to learn. This trend has resulted in an increase in adjunct and graduate student teachers who may not have the ability or time to bond with students. The importance of mentorship in student’s lives, according to the Gallup study of 2018, cannot be underestimated. Students should choose colleges that prioritize pedagogy when searching for academic departments and reach out to learn about mentorship programs. A school with faculty that teaches regularly and fosters mentorship programs can lead to a fulfilling college experience.

Investing in Education

Choosing the right school is a critical investment decision that requires proper research. It is essential to consider a school’s retention rates, graduation rates, and post-graduation earnings potential derived from data on websites such as the US Department of Education’s College Scorecard.

Deciding to attend college can be a challenging decision. The stakes are high, including a financial investment, risk, and uncertain rewards. Like any investment, one must ask several questions before investing. Choosing the right school is an investment decision that requires proper research.

Investing in the right school could pay off big down the line, making it vital to consider a school’s retention and graduation rates. Graduating from school sets one up for a possible increase in earnings. But the worst use of money is attending a school without graduating.

Websites such as the US Department of Education’s College Scorecard provides essential data. It offers graduation and retention rates that help in determining the outcomes of an investment. Although these rates may not tell the entire story, they can act as a guide in the decision-making process.

The website also provides salary data, which is of special interest. The government tracks the income of graduates who qualified for federal aid, making it essential to look at median salaries. Additionally, it provides salary information for graduates in particular fields, making the financial implications of different courses clearer.

Overall, investing in education requires proper research, with data from websites such as the US Department of Education’s College Scorecard making the financial and educational investment less of a shot in the dark.

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