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Starting at a community college and going to a mid-tier in-state school works quite well for a comparatively huge number of people. I'm in Michigan and went to UM-A2, but I know lots of people in the auto industry that went to UM-Dearborn (good pipeline to Auto) and lots of people who went to MSU and Central Michigan. Weirdly (/s), they make the same money as the also relatively large number of engineers from MIT. You don't have to go to a good school to maintain a middle class lifestyle in engineering.

I think certain types of engineers and a few other majors can approach college costs differently, because they know well-paying jobs will be available to them on the other side. These programs also tend to be highly competitive -- for instance, undergraduate nursing at UMass, UConn, and some of the other schools we toured have thousands of applicants for 100 or 200 slots, and can be very selective.

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