Planet Money takes a look at the The Real Price of College. Take 10 minutes to listen! The price you see on colleges is often much higher than every student at the college pays, once grants and scholarships are accounted for. At Lafayette College, less than half of all students pay full price. So WHY does the sticker price remain so high? Because in one way or another, the sticker price is a measure of the quality of education for families. The high sticker price allows colleges to be more creative in the way they award scholarships and financial aid.
Students able to pay the full price do. Students who can't are offered a discounted price that reflects their ability to pay.