Johnny, I recommend asking students at UVA what they think of NYU. Some will be honest with you and tell you outright to go to NYU, or they'll say something like, "Ooh, that's a tough decision." This happened to me at all of the ASWs I've attended so far. I expect when I ask NYU students what they think of my non-HYSCCN choices, none of them will tell me to even think twice about other schools.
My take on NYU is that it's in the best location of any school in the top 14. You can't put a price on being able to step outside D'Agostino or Mercer and seeing everything you could ever want to do within a short walk. $180k for three years of this experience seems like a lot of money now, but when you're in your 30s and you've made a lot of bank, and you've got at least $30k coming in from investments each year, you'll look back on that $180k as being money well spent.
I agree that most likely this will happen (in fact, talking to CCN students, they all say they are clearly superior to lower T14's and without massive money offers, don't consider them).
However, I think its self-selection. The ppl who ultimately chose CCN (or HYS) are the types who go to the best school they can and were in the same situations in previous years (and of course, chose the best school). Also, it seems like all these student ambassadors, and those who go to ASW to meet admits, like their school. Hence, I doubt they'll say, "I think Umich has a much better social vibe, something to keep in mind over our CCN school".