The Price You Pay for College Book Summary - The Price You Pay for College Book explained in key points
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The Price You Pay for College summary

An Entirely New Road Map for the Biggest Financial Decision Your Family Will Ever Make

4.1 (51 ratings)
20 mins

Brief summary

'The Price You Pay for College' by Ron Lieber is a guidebook for parents and students navigating the complicated world of higher education. It offers insights and strategies for making informed decisions about the true cost of college and how to afford it.

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    The Price You Pay for College
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    Most students pay less than the list price.

    College is expensive; there’s no getting around that. In many parts of the US, spending four years at a state university costs over $100,000. And if you opt for an elite, private college, then you can triple that figure – coughing up about $300,000 overall.

    That’s a lot of money – and we’re still only talking about a single student. Many families send several kids to college; multiply those figures by two or three, and suddenly you’re looking at a small fortune.

    So, the stakes are high. But it’s worth pausing to examine that price tag. What really determines the price of a college education? And do most students actually pay full price?

    The key message here is: Most students pay less than the list price.

    A university’s list price is the standard, undiscounted figure that you’ll find in its promotional material. Often, it’s high – but the good news is that most students can expect to pay less.

    Why is that? Let’s start with familiar territory: need-based financial aid. These are the grants and price reductions that colleges and the government provide to less well-off families. Because these discounts are need-based, they don’t take your academic abilities into account.

    But, in addition to this type of price reduction, there’s the murky and often confusing world of merit aid.

    Merit aid is designed to make a school’s offer more enticing. In general, schools offer merit aid for two reasons.

    First of all, it’s a good way of attracting talented students. A student whose grades are good enough for an Ivy League school might end up registering at a less prestigious institution instead if the price is right.

    Second, lots of colleges recognize that their list price is just too high for families to afford. If they want enough students on their books, schools often have no choice but to offer merit aid.

    So what’s the upshot of this? Well, merit aid and financial aid can add up. At public universities 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. After discounts, families paid on average $15,400 for full-time, in-state students – including tuition, room, and board.

    Students at private schools can expect to pay almost double that – $27,400 on average.

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    What is The Price You Pay for College about?

    The Price You Pay for College (2021) is a one-stop shop for everything you need to know about choosing a college and financing your education. Exploring mentorship, financial aid, and graduate salaries, it clarifies an often confusing world, aiming to ensure that students’ momentous decisions are informed ones.

    The Price You Pay for College Review

    The Price You Pay for College (2021) is a must-read for anyone navigating the complex world of college costs and financial aid. Here's why this book stands out:

    • It offers insightful strategies to help families minimize college expenses and make informed decisions about higher education.
    • Supported by extensive research and interviews with experts, the book provides valuable advice on navigating the financial aspects of college.
    • With its accessible language and relatable stories, the book keeps readers engaged, making a topic often perceived as boring, surprisingly intriguing.

    Best quote from The Price You Pay for College

    Research takes time. Teaching takes time. Scholars have only so much of it.

    —Ron Lieber
    example alt text

    Who should read The Price You Pay for College?

    • Parents with college-bound kids
    • High school students interested in the college-application process
    • Personal-finance buffs looking to brush up on a new niche

    About the Author

    Ron Lieber writes the Your Money column for the New York Times and has previously contributed to the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, and Fortune. Among other works, Lieber is the author of The Opposite of Spoiled.

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    The Price You Pay for College FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Price You Pay for College?

    The main message of The Price You Pay for College is that understanding the complex world of college finance is crucial for making informed decisions.

    How long does it take to read The Price You Pay for College?

    The reading time for The Price You Pay for College varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Price You Pay for College a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Price You Pay for College is worth reading as it provides valuable insights and practical advice on navigating the financial complexities of college.

    Who is the author of The Price You Pay for College?

    The author of The Price You Pay for College is Ron Lieber.

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