HA D3 Dilemma

Apologies for the long post....It's been a couple weeks since son returned from Stanford camp and he's received interest from and has been in communication with several D3 schools. Four local-ish schools with good academics (although not considered HA or top notch) and varying levels of baseball strength and 3 out of state very prestigious top HA schools (east coast, Midwest and CA).  We are very excited about these opportunities and have been discussing pros and cons of each school.  He's not interested at all in one of the local schools and one of the HA schools (east coast), so those two come off the list.  Sorting through the thought process for the other schools....

His grades are very strong and he's always been an academics-first kid, so his goal has been to use baseball to get him into a school he otherwise would not be able to get into.  With the very low admission rates at these HA schools, he likely would not get in without baseball.  No problem getting into the local schools.  He also has the option of going to big state school with strong academics, but baseball is not an option for him there.

The main issue we are struggling with as a family is cost:

--The local schools would offer him solid academic money (about $30K), so would bring the cost to below or at the cost of the state school. 

--One HA school actually offers academic money, although best case scenario, total cost for 4 years would be about $44K more than cost of state school.  

--Other HA school only offers need-based money (which we do not think we would qualify for), so total cost for 4 years would be about $192K more that cost of state school.  YIKES!!!!

Here's the question we're wrestling with--assuming we can somehow afford it--if a kid can use baseball to get into a prestigious HA school, is getting a degree from one of those schools worth the extra cost????  We obviously want to give our kid the best education we can, and if he gets into one of these schools because he worked his tail off in the classroom and on the field, that's a huge accomplishment.  But, in the long-term, will a kid that comes out of an average/good college with good grades have equivalent opportunities than a kid who comes out of a prestigious top academic school? 

If we go back to his original goal--using baseball to get into a school he otherwise wouldn't be able to get into--it seems the result for our situation will invariably mean we are paying significantly more in tuition.  Are we looking at this right, or is there something we are missing?

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