I was in a similar position, though I took the free state school in the cornfields then moved to NYC after I graduated. The NY office of my job offered a $10k higher salary than the Midwest one which covered more than the difference in rent; in effect, I was paid to live in NYC.
I’d be on the same page as your mom, to be honest. At this point, nearing 30, I feel like I have the world open to me — start my own business, travel for a year, or make a risky career move. Life is long, and tuition is the most expensive way to see a city.