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The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price by Lynn O’Shaughnessy

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1. Where Is the $$$?

Colleges have gotten increasingly good at price discriminating. The list price is set high, and then many customers are offered a discount called “financial aid” based on their ability to pay. Here’s the secret plan: In the future, Harvard will cost $1 billion a year, and only Bill Gates’s children will pay full price. When anyone else walks through the door, the message will be “Special price, just for you.”

—Greg Mankiw, professor of economics at Harvard University

When you’re visiting colleges, the campus tour guides understand that certain areas are off limits. They aren’t going to have you traipse through the cafeteria kitchen where the discarded pizza crusts mix with soap suds, and you won’t be trolling past the financial ...

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