Cutting The Cost Of College With Ron Lieber On 'How To Money'


On this episode of How To Money, Matt and Joel sit down with New York Times columnist and award-winning author Ron Lieber to talk about saving money on higher education. Ron literally wrote the book on this topic, called The Price You Pay For College, and he dives deep into various types of financial aid available, the upcoming changes to the federal FAFSA financial aid application, the usefulness of getting pre-requisites out of the way at a cheaper community college, the importance of a gap year, and more. But most of all, he talks about how we value the college experience, and how to pinpoint what you’re really shopping for when you’re looking at all the options out there for higher education.

The pandemic revealed that people choose colleges based on three things: the quality of the education; the kinship of fellow students and potential mentors; and/or the credentials it gives you to reach above your current class level to greater heights. That became clear when campuses were shut down: The education got worse, and the kinship was gone completely, so many people started to wonder where the value in college was for them. Ron encourages listeners to answer this question for themselves before making a decision about which institution to enter. If you’re going to take over a family business, for example, the quality of the education or the credentials of a fancy school might not matter much to you – you’re going to college for the networking opportunities. Really consider what you want out of your college experience – you could save a lot of time and money by being honest about what you’re looking for. 

But don’t dismiss a fancy private school out of hand because you think you can’t afford it, either. Ron points out that many schools have an incredibly high sticker price because there are some families who will simply write a check, no questions asked. But oftentimes, people can get up to 50% off that price for an Ivy League education. It’s worth checking to see what kind of need-based and merit-based financial aid they offer, because the school of your dreams could be more affordable than you originally thought. He also praises a gap year, cautions against community college, and encourages parents to explore universities earlier in high school than junior year, so you can take the time to tour campuses, do research, and figure out the right place – and the best price – for you. Plus, he shares websites, Facebook groups, and more resources to help start your search. Hear all about the best ways to save money on higher education on this episode of How To Money.

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