The way I see it is how much unhappiness total I would like to tolerate. I would much rather take four years of unhappiness on the front end of my career than an extra 10-15+ years of unhappiness due to loan repayments for the rest of my career. Going someplace cheaper also means I can be more able to move somewhere I actually want to live, or that I can pursue something like an internship or residency without wondering if I'm completely financially crippling myself. As with all things there are exceptions (and, I would argue, exceptions that actually prove that a rule exists). If going to your IS is completely unsurvivable - then don't go. However I would say that for many people this isn't the case (not saying this doesn't happen at all, of course), and they are simply coming up with reasons why their IS is subpar and therefore the absolute worst possible choice to attend. This was obviously not the case with your friend, and it stinks that she had to go through that whole process. At the same time, this is very anecdotal evidence that you're presenting here, and that n = 1 isn't particularly convincing to me that this is such a common phenomenon that people should ignore the very real issue of cost of attendance. I don't know. For me, personally, I would love for vet school to be the best thing ever but the reality is that it's going to suck a lot, a lot of the time, regardless of where I go. I want to go to a school that is not actively detrimental to my wellbeing, and would avoid doing so. At the same time I'm not paying for the wonderful experience of veterinary school, I'm paying to receive training and a degree that allows me to practice veterinary medicine as a competent clinician. If I know the school can get me to the end point then a lot of the middle is of less concern to me in a lot of ways. It's a lot like high school, you just have to get through it. I'm glad that you are attending a school that you love - it's not something that everyone gets to do. I wish you success during your upcoming veterinary schooling and beyond.