Usually the first concern about a certain college or university is the cost. Tuition is the amount of money that is required per number of credits just to attend that institution. Then there are fees (activity fee, athletic fee, technology fee just to name a few) associated with the use of facilities on that college campus. Now, in the state of Georgia, if your grade point average allows you to receive the HOPE scholarship, tuition and fees are covered for public colleges or universities. (Students attending private institutions receive a certain amount, but it will not cover full total.)
If education costs were just about tuition and fees, then students would have very little debt, and may not need student loans. Of course there are books to buy, which are not cheap. But the biggest issue comes with living expenses. Room and board account for more money than actual tuition at many schools. On-campus housing usually require usage of meal plans, which aren't cheap either.
Unless a student has grant or scholarship money, or money paid by or set aside by family, the student must find ways to pay for the expenses associated with the school he or she chose to attend. They resort to huge amounts of student loans they are eligible to receive just to maintain their living expenses. Add in utility bills (especially if living off-campus), groceries, and gas for the car and the need for money increases. Furthermore, depending on location, part-time jobs are scarce.
Consider this: staying at home and attending a local college saves money. Outside of tuition and fees, there is no room and board. If you have a part-time job, you can make and save money. You can even contribute to your parents without draining your finances or theirs. Instead of needing thousands of dollars to live, you can save any refund left from scholarships or grants, once tuition is paid.
I get that college is a moment of freedom from parents and the city where you were raised. I understand that for some, there are no local schools and going away to better your education is the only option. Even then, one should not ignore the high price tag that can set a person up for financial turmoil even after graduation.
I hope this helps you! More to come! Be blessed!