Skip to Content
  1. Podcasts
  2. The Long View

NYT's Ron Lieber on What and How to Pay for College

The author and The New York Times columnist discusses college during the pandemic, the 'psychological head trick' of merit-based financial aid, and what's driving college costs upward.

The Long View cover art

Listen Now

Listen and subscribe to Morningstar’s The Long View from your mobile device.

Our guest on the podcast today is The New York Times financial columnist and author Ron Lieber. His latest book is called The Price You Pay for College: An Entirely New Road Map for the Biggest Financial Decision Your Family Will Ever Make. He is also the author of The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money and coauthor of Taking Time Off: Inspiring Stories of Students Who Enjoyed Successful Breaks From College and How You Can Plan Your Own. Ron has been the "Your Money" columnist for The New York Times since 2008. Before coming to The Times, he wrote the "Green Thumb" personal finance column for The Wall Street Journal and was part of the startup team at the paper's “Personal Journal” section. He attended Amherst College.




College in the Pandemic

Remote Learning Is Unequal. Coronavirus Changed That--For Now,” by Jonathan Zimmerman,, April 8, 2020.

Spelman College Faces a Redefined Reality,” by Mary Schmidt Campbell,, April 23, 2020.

Colleges Won’t Refund Tuition. Autumn May Force a Reckoning,” by Ron Lieber,, May 1, 2020.

Back to School: How the Coronavirus Could Shape the Future of Higher Education,” by Karen Wallace,, Nov. 9, 2020.

Will College Tuition Go Down Because of the Pandemic?” by Norman Vanamee,, Feb. 4, 2021.

School Choice and Cost

Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admission’s Mania, by Frank Bruni, March 8, 2016.

 “The Price You Pay for College, 21 Important Questions to Ask,” by Ron Lieber,, Jan. 23, 2021.

College Costs Are Less Terrifying Than You Think,” by Ron Lieber,, Jan. 28, 2021.

How to Pay for College (and Not Lose Your Shirt),” by Ron Lieber,, Jan, 26, 2021.

How Taking a Gap Year Can Shape Your Life,” by Ron Lieber,, Oct. 19, 2016.

Financial Aid and Merit Aid

How to Predict Merit Aid in a Strange College Application Season,” by Ron Lieber,, Sept. 25, 2020.

How to Ask a College for More Financial Aid,” by Ron Lieber,, April 25, 2020.

What a $300,000 College Might Cost a $200,000 Family,” by Ron Lieber,, Oct. 3, 2020.

High School Grades Could Be Worth $100,000. Time to Tell Your Child?” by Ron Lieber,, Jan. 23, 2021.

FAFSA’s Expected Family Contribution Is Going Away. Good Riddance,” by Ron Lieber,, Jan. 4, 2021.

Inside College Merit Aid—and the Manipulative, Lucrative System That Keeps it Running,” by Ron Lieber,, Feb. 4, 2021.


Parent PLUS Loans: What You Need to Know,” by Kimberly Rotter and Bob Musinski,, Feb. 7, 2020.

For Millions Deep in Student Loan Debt, Bankruptcy Is No Easy Fix,” by Ron Lieber and Tara Siegel Bernard,, Nov. 18, 2020.

An Invisible Cost of College: Parental Guilt,” by Ron Lieber,, Feb. 3, 2021.

Here’s a Guide to How Grandparents Can Help Pay for College,” by Ron Lieber,, Feb. 2, 2021.

Transparency is how we protect the integrity of our work and keep empowering investors to achieve their goals and dreams. And we have unwavering standards for how we keep that integrity intact, from our research and data to our policies on content and your personal data.

We’d like to share more about how we work and what drives our day-to-day business.

We sell different types of products and services to both investment professionals and individual investors. These products and services are usually sold through license agreements or subscriptions. Our investment management business generates asset-based fees, which are calculated as a percentage of assets under management. We also sell both admissions and sponsorship packages for our investment conferences and advertising on our websites and newsletters.

How we use your information depends on the product and service that you use and your relationship with us. We may use it to:

  • Verify your identity, personalize the content you receive, or create and administer your account.
  • Provide specific products and services to you, such as portfolio management or data aggregation.
  • Develop and improve features of our offerings.
  • Gear advertisements and other marketing efforts towards your interests.

To learn more about how we handle and protect your data, visit our privacy center.

Maintaining independence and editorial freedom is essential to our mission of empowering investor success. We provide a platform for our authors to report on investments fairly, accurately, and from the investor’s point of view. We also respect individual opinions––they represent the unvarnished thinking of our people and exacting analysis of our research processes. Our authors can publish views that we may or may not agree with, but they show their work, distinguish facts from opinions, and make sure their analysis is clear and in no way misleading or deceptive.

To further protect the integrity of our editorial content, we keep a strict separation between our sales teams and authors to remove any pressure or influence on our analyses and research.

Read our editorial policy to learn more about our process.