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The Price You Pay for College: Understanding Merit Aid

Updated: Jan 11

The Price You Pay for College: Understanding Merit Aid

Navigating the labyrinth of college choices can be overwhelming, especially when considering the financial implications. Knowing the actual cost of college becomes crucial as your children begin this exciting journey.

We recently hosted Ron Lieber on the Modern Husbands Podcast to help us decipher the true cost of college.

Ron is the author of the merit aid course "The Price You Pay for College: Understanding Merit Aid," an extension of his book. Ron has been the "Your Money" columnist for The New York Times since 2008.

The episode aims to help parents understand college aid to fully understand the financial implications of college award letters. The conversation is essential for parents of children matriculating to college because tuition is only part of the picture.


When contemplating college expenses, it's easy to fixate solely on tuition fees. However, the actual cost involves a myriad of components beyond tuition.

The sticker price, prominently displayed by colleges, can be intimidating. Yet, the net price, your actual cost after financial aid and scholarships, paints a more accurate picture. Understanding the difference is vital because colleges are now experts in using merit aid to play on the emotions of proud parents.

The Modern Husbands Podcast

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Show Notes

0:00:00 Introduction

0:01:00 Ron explains merit aid and how it can play into the emotions of parents

0:08:01 The difference between a loan and merit aid

0:13:40 Will high academic achievers begin to receive NIL money and the difference between merit aid and need-based aid

0:19:40 Whether most schools offer merit aid, and if so, whether the children of affluent parents qualify

0:30:42 The various reasons that schools give merit aid

0:37:20 When schools inform applicants of how much merit aid they qualify for and how long they last

0:38:50 Where parents can learn more about merit aid

0:40:45 One simple piece of advice Ron wants listeners to leave the conversation with


Related: Saddled with too much student loan debt? Read how Student Loan Planner can help.



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