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Daniel Schwartz could have attended an Ivy League school if he wanted to. He just doesn't see the value.
Mr. Schwartz, 18 years old, was accepted at Cornell University but enrolled instead at City University of New York's Macaulay Honors College, which is free.
Mr. Schwartz says his family could have afforded Cornell's tuition, with help from scholarships and loans. But he wants to be a doctor and thinks medical school, which could easily cost upward of $45,000 a year for a private institution, is a more important investment. It wasn't "worth it to spend $50,000-plus a year for a bachelor's degree," he says.
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About Generation Jobless
Americans 25 and under face one of the toughest job markets in modern history. This week, The Wall Street Journal explores their stories.
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Young Men Suffer Worst as Economy Staggers
Among Minorities, a New Wave of 'Disconnected Youth'
For Those Under 24, a Portrait in Crisis
As student-loan default rates climb and college graduates fail to land jobs, an increasing number of students are betting they can get just as far with a degree from a less-expensive school as they can with a diploma from an elite school—without having to take on debt.
More students are choosing lower-cost public colleges or commuting to schools from home to save on housing expenses. Twenty-two percent of students from families with annual household incomes above $100,000 attended public, two-year schools in the 2010-2011 academic year, up from 12% the previous year, according to a report from student-loan company Sallie Mae.
Bryan Derballa for The Wall Street JournalNatasha Pearson, 19, attends Hunter College in New York City. She turned down an offer from Boston College after the...