i'm just going to say that it should be clear that harvard, not rice, is the best value school in the country. their generous FA + grants etc. is just an amazing deal to attend a top school with a student body that ranks up there with caltech's.
You may be right, although several competitors - Princeton, Penn, and Columbia among them - have greatly increased their FA offerings in the last few years, to the point where it's a very competitive discussion now.
As has been the case typically, "fit" is still more important than most other considerations, if you can get in. Harvard's FA offer to the average admittee probably only beats Columbia's average FA offer by 20% or so. Plenty of money, but probably wouldn't be the decisive factor if a student admitted to both really thought that Columbia was the better fit.