More students are choosing lower-cost public colleges or commuting to schools from home to save on housing expenses. Twenty-two percent of students from families with annual household incomes above $100,000 attended public, two-year schools in the 2010-2011 academic year, up from 12% the previous year, according to a report from student-loan company Sallie Mae…

The approach has risks. Top-tier colleges tend to attract recruiting visits from companies that have stopped visiting elsewhere. A diploma from an elite school can look better to many recruiters and graduate schools, as well. And overcrowding at state schools means students could be locked out of required courses and have difficulty completing their degrees in four years…

Attending a private university still can pay off. Schools with large endowments have beefed up their aid programs in recent years, which can make them less expensive than their public, cash-strapped counterparts. Brown University, for example, offers grants instead of loans for students whose families earn less than $100,000 a year. Harvard College doesn’t expect any contribution from families with annual incomes below $60,000.