A leading economist makes the case that college is still a smart investment, and reveals how to increase the odds of your degree paying off.

The cost of college makes for frightening headlines and politics. The outstanding balance of student loans is more than $1.5 trillion nationally, while tuitions continue to rise. And on the heels of a pandemic that nearly dismantled the traditional “college experience,” we have to wonder: Is college really worth it?

From a financial perspective, the answer is yes, says economist Beth Akers. It’s true that college is expensive. But once we see higher education for what it is—an investment in future opportunities, job security, and earnings—a different picture emerges: The average college graduate earns a million dollars more over their lifetime, and most four-year schools deliver a 15 percent return on investment—double that of the stock market.

Yet these outcomes are not guaranteed. Rather, they hinge upon where and how you opt to invest your tuition dollars. Simply put, the real problem with college isn’t the cost—it’s the risk that your investment might not pay off.

In Making College Pay, Akers shows how to stack the deck in your favor by making smart choices about where to enroll, what to study, and how to pay for it. You’ll learn

• why choosing the right major matters more than where you enroll
• the best criteria for picking a school (hint: not selectivity or ranking)
• why there’s a high cost of working part-time while earning your degree
• why it’s often best to borrow, even if you can afford to pay outright
• the pros and cons of nontraditional degree programs
• how to take advantage of new, low-risk financing tools

Full of practical advice for students and parents, Making College Pay reminds us that higher education remains an engine for opportunity, upward mobility, and prosperity.