As states further reduce funding for public universities there is a crisis building. For those who have a choice, you might want to consider attending a solid private institution.
1. Private institutions endowments dwarf public universities by billions of dollars.
2. State budgets are constantly under pressure to reduce funding on higher education.
3. There are no public universities in the top 20 (there used to be several), in 20 years there might be none in the top 50. (Even if you don't like rankings the trend is what is concerning)
4. State legislatures have some control over public universities limiting there ability to raise in state tuition to cover costs. (Very popular for getting reelected, but giving away free money then not reimbursing the university is a recipe for disaster)
5. Some state legislatures also limit the number of OOS/International full pay students further limiting revenues. (Another popular item for voters, but again no reimbursement to the university)
6. High population states are artificially keeping there applicants numbers up as there are simply more in state applicants who really can't afford to go anywhere else than available slots. This causes an artificial rise in an universities prestige (they can turn away more applicants and be seen as selective) without the corresponding rise in the ability of the university to retain top quality faculty due to lack of funding. UIUC is an excellent example as they are losing top faculty to private institutions.
7. While you can succeed and do very well at a large public university, you are essentially "on your own" to do so. There are simply too many students at large public research universities to have any personalized attention. This is especially true when you compare them to top LAC's.
8. These are only a few of the reasons that public universities are facing a financial crisis.
1. I know not everyone has that choice to attend a private university but if you don't, an in state public is still a reasonable deal especially in STEM.
2. OOS full pay students are just wasting their money, however I recognize that it is theirs to waste, and if your wealthy enough is just doesn't matter.
3. Still in 20 years from now your public university alma mater may not look like a very good school at all unless things change drastically, which is highly doubtful.