delusional wrote:In defense of OP, it happens that you don't get more money from other schools. I had similar numbers and didn't even get much from Columbia, because it's pretty much Butler/Hamilton or pennies that are supposedly "need based". Sometimes things don't break right - a couple yield protects or scholarship commitments that the school is waiting to hear back from, and your 3.9 177 turns into H at sticker or bust.
OP, I would recommend Harvard for a couple reasons. First, NY COL is sneaky expensive in ways that don't make it into the calculations. Second, if you want to end up in Boston, (and you do - lower COL, better work-life balance, and same pay scale as NY) moving twice is an expense and a personal drain. Third, no grades and fourth, relatedly, better employment opportunities. I had friends at Columbia who did much better than I did at Harvard who were much more stressed over grades and jobs. It's not that Columbia grads overall don't get jobs, obviously. It's that at Columbia you can fall through the cracks even with good grades and at Harvard you can hit the jackpot even without good grades and you have a much better chance of changing your mind halfway through 2L and still having a chance to switch firms, cities, or even careers.
None of this comparison provided between the two schools is accurate. Harvard students certainly have grades and they do "stress out" about them. Both schools have a four grade scale. Students at Columbia aren't that stressed about jobs generally, except to the degree its in their nature as high achieving students. I don't know what you mean by "fall through the cracks" or "hit the jackpot" when the schools place very similarly. The median student at CLS and the median student at H are both likely to be at the same V20, and this applies throughout the grading scales. And I'm not sure what the last sentence is supposed to mean - 3L EIP and lateral options exist equally from both schools. None of this bizarre anecdata is substantiated.
That being said, if OP would rather live in Cambridge and they get a large need based grant, choosing H makes perfect sense.