this is why, with few exceptions, people who pass up significant scholarships at lower ranked T1's to go to a higher ranked T1 at full cost (same quality of education) are morons. the debt will take years to pay off. and no, most of us will not get that huge job at biglaw.
I would argue the other way.
If tuition is 50% of your total cost of attendance, then "free tuition" is really only a 50% discount. If the school is giving you a "half tuition" scholarship, you're really only getting a 25% discount.
It's still a hell of a lot of money, but you need to look at it in terms of value.
Say you have two schools, A and B, both with the same tuition, and both with living expenses equal to tuition. If you get a half-tuition scholarship at school B, then school B is still 3/4 of the cost of school A, i.e., school A is 4/3 of the cost of school B.
Is school A worth paying a third more than school B?
Depends on employment/career prospects and depends on what you want to do with your degree.
Two T1 schools can have very different employment/career prospects.
Or the difference might be negligible, in which case it's worth saving the money.
I doubt the decision is clear with "few exceptions."
I think it's very individual depending on your goals and the possibilities the schools offer.