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Erin O'Connell, center, and her mother Rosemary O'Connell, left, follow a group tour through Elon University, Monday, Oct. 13, 2008, in Elon, N.C. It's college-visiting season for the high school class of 2009, which will send the most ever graduates on to college next fall. But the souring economy and dramatic slump on Wall Street are providing a cold dose of financial reality for many families. (AP)

Prospective students follow a group tour through Elon University, on Oct. 13, 2008, in Elon, N.C. The high school class of 2009 will send the most ever graduates on to college next fall. But the souring economy and dramatic slump on Wall Street are providing a cold dose of financial reality for many families. (AP)

It is college acceptance time. College decision time. In millions of homes across America, families are sitting down to look at where sons and daughters have been admitted, where they haven’t, and where they should actually go.

The decision is tougher than ever. The economy is terrible. Millions of parents have lost jobs. Incomes have fallen. So have college endowments and — in some cases — financial aid. Loans are tougher too.

Families have hard decisions to make. And so do colleges themselves.

This hour, On Point: College decision time, in hard times.

You can join the conversation. Is your family having tough conversations about this right now? Parents, students: How are you thinking about the choice of a college in economic tough times?

Guests:

Joining us from San Francisco is Stephen Yoder, San Francisco bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal. His 18-year-old son, Isaac, will be heading off to college next fall. They write the “Yoder and Son” column about parent/teen money issues for the Journal.

From New York we’re joined by Jacques Steinberg, education writer for The New York Times. He’s lead author of the blog “The Choice” on NYTimes.com and author of “The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College.”

Joining us from Austin, Texas, is Alice Reinarz, asisstant provost for enrollment at Texas A&M University in College Station — one of the top public universities in America. This year a record 26,007 students applied, and 8,100 are expected to enroll.

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