Sep 04, 2020

NGPF Podcast: NY Times Columnist Ron Lieber on his upcoming book, The Price You Pay for College

We welcomed the NY Times columnist Ron Lieber to the NGPF Speaker Series on August 28, 2020 to share details about his forthcoming book (expected Jan. 2021), The Price You Pay for College. In this conversation, Ron describes the reasons students go to college and what factors determine the price that students and their families pay for it. You will learn about valuable online tools and resources to help you answer that all important question too. Finally, he shares his perspective on the impact of COVID-19 on higher education and how it may (or may not) shape college attendance in the future. Enjoy! 


  • 0:00~2:15 Introduction
  • 2:15~25:37 The central question: What to pay for college?
  • 25:37~31:28 Why does a college education cost so much?
  • 31:28~36:07 The value of attending college
  • 36:07~41:57 Why schools choose to discount rather than lowering the sticker price
  • 41:57~45:18 Financial aid hacks
  • 45:18~48:05 On demanding more data from schools 
  • 48:05~50:31 Is college still the best path? 
  • 50:31~53:08 Certificate programs as an alternative to college
  • 53:08~55:33 An example scenario for a high school student
  • 55:33~57:17 What postsecondary school looks like this fall
  • 57:17~61:14 The future of college
  • 61:14~62:28 Conclusion



  • “What I realized at that point was that in my coverage of college and money, I had sort of failed utterly to answer the central question. I had spilled all of this ink over how to save for college and all of this ink over how to pay for college but what I missed was arguably the most important question of all which is: what to pay for college.”

About the Authors

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

Ren Makino

Ren started interning at NGPF in 2014, and worked part-time through high school and college. With his knowledge growing alongside NGPF, he joined the team to work full-time after graduating from college in 2020. He is also the producer of the NGPF podcast. During his free time, he likes to try out coffees from different roasters across the world.

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