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ALWAYS go to a better school. 10 years down the road, you will understand that the $$$ difference that appears so significant now, should NOT have been the deciding factor.
Nope. There are people with circumstances that make this bad advice. It would be sheer idiocy to turn down a school ranked #70 with a full ride in your target market for full tuition at a school ranked #60 in a market you have no interest in. Pepperdine does have cred among the neocon crowd though. Chapman is trying hard, but its still a new school without much of a reputation yet.
One thing to consider: What conditions (if any) are on the scholarship? Many (if not most) lower ranked schools have onerous conditions. Maintaining a 3.0 might not sound too bad, until you realize that getting a 3.0 involves being in the top 1/3 of your class (meaning a 2/3 chance of losing the scholarship).
USNews used to have T1,T2,T3,T4. But then they decided to just lump in all the top 100 schools into T1. Most people still call the 51-100 T2.
While I don't think the tier formula USNEWS means much anyways, it makes absolutely no sense to have a third tier without a second.