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Coronavirus has made deciding whether to attend or return to college, already an expensive and fraught decision, considerably harder. Many students and families have opted to sit this semester or year out — calling it a “gap year” — instead of paying $50,000 or more for what might very well be classes on Zoom. This could be short sighted.

Students taking a gap year are simply delaying when they can start earning the higher salary most college graduates receive. That can cost more than $49,000 over a 20- to 40-year career, according to Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist and professor at The New School for Social Research.

What’s more, students have more financial advantages this year than they may realize.

As a former college vice president that left his position to start a financial education company helping families get degrees with less debt, I have made the case that I think college will cost less in the future, not more. When I argued that in May of last year, I had a timeline of 17 years, when my newborn daughter would be matriculating to college. However, I think the trends have accelerated, and we’re now entering a golden age for college students as consumers.