Gregg Easterbrook has a very interesting article
talking about the pressure many students face about choosing a college. My senior year in high school I ended up in a very similar situation. I crushed my ACTs, had a ton of extra circular activities, Eagle Scout, and I grew up in an under-represented state, Montana. After filling out a ton of college applications, I ended up in very desirable situation of having been given early acceptance to Washington University in St. Louis.
Unfortunately visiting the school over Thanksgiving was a very sobering experience. My family is solidly middle class, and I can't say I ever wanted for anything; however, one walk around campus and I new in my heart I couldn't afford the school. The decision about where to go to school was up in the air for a long time, until I saw the financial aid package. It was disappointing to say the least. The local engineering school, Mt. Tech, 0ffered me the same amount of aid; however, that same aid would cover my first year's worth of tuition.
In the end math made the decision for me. I could go to Washington University in St. Louis and leave with at least 80K in debt or I could go to the local school and leave with little to no debt. Thank God, I made the choice I did. Life is a lot nicer when you get to keep some of your pay check. The very idea of needing to make loan payments on that amount of student loans is just scary. I wouldn't be able to enjoy as many things as I do.
My advice to the senior looking at this post. College is fun, but like high school it shouldn't be the high point of your life. Be honest with yourself and if you can't afford the Ivy League, so be it there are a ton of other good schools out there. You don't want to spend the rest of your life trying to pay off 4 or 5 years of school.