Imagine you had the option of going to a top state university on a full ride or a prestigious Ivy League for about $20,000 a year. Would it be a hard decision? What would you choose?
Four years ago, Becca Arbacher had to make that decision. She chose Columbia in New York City over the University of Michigan.
And she's glad she did.
"Being at Columbia has offered me some really incredible opportunities that I wouldn't have otherwise," says Arbacher. "It's kind of impossible for me to guess what my experience would have been like at Michigan."
Arbacher is among the minority: Around 20 percent chose a private, and more expensive, college education.
In her case, the financial burden fell to her widowed mother, Judith. But in other families, loans make an expensive school possible.
Evan Bonham selected NYU's Tisch School of the Arts to study music production. He has about $75,000 in loans, and looking back, he wishes he had talked more about the cost of college.
"Now that I'm getting ready to graduate, the debt is really starting to creep up on me," he says.
But Bonham's mother, Angela, reminded us that it's not just about value for money, but about values. The value of providing your child the best educational experience she or he can attain, even if the cost hurts.
"If you've told your children early on ... that if they do well they can go to the college that they'd like to go to," she says, "then you hold to that promise."