This kind of feels like reading an alternate reality of my own life. I wanted to go to NYU when I was in high school but decided on UGA because my girlfriend and most of my friends were going there, plus even though I knew almost nothing about money when I was 17, the costs of NYU struck me as way too high. I gradated debt-free thanks to the HOPE scholarship covering tuition and my parents covering fees and living expenses and I moved to NYC after college. I feel like I dodged a huge bullet by stumbling into the cheap school just because it was the easiest option.
It sounds like your decisions have worked out for you, though, so that’s cool.