Great question. A few pieces of advice come to mind -
1. Schools of all rankings produce successful graduates, and just because you go to a school that is highly ranked does not mean you get a golden ticket in life. One important factor not necessarily considered in rankings is the quality of career services and accessibility of internships / co-ops. Nearly all employers now expect graduates have professional work experience BEFORE they graduate, and many students get their first job from a connection they made while a student. Even graduate schools prefer students who have had these types of "real world" experiences. So it's worth investigating, because a smaller, lower ranked school may have better career services than a larger, highly ranked research-based universtiy.
2. A good rule of thumb is for students to graduate college with student loan debt no more than their first salary out of college. If picking the "brand name" school will set the student back $80,000 in loans, I do not think it's a worthwhile investment, since it is very unlikely their first job will pay that much. This is especially true if the student plans on continuing to graduate school, where they will likely accumluate more debt.
3. Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't suggest the student goes on a tour of both schools to get a sense of the community - both the academic and social environment. After the visits, the student will likely develop a preference for one or the other and make the decision very easy.
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