Even if the training isn't in your hometown, you still come out like gang busters.....
When I did the workstudy program, I stayed in the hotel b/c the conference was 3.5 hours from my home. But, I didn't have to deal with airfare, and while you have to stay in the hotel that the conference is located and SANS doesn't necessarily go for the cheapest hotel in town, I'd still rather pay $850 plus somewhere around $1K for training than the full price plus $1K for the training.
In addition, as I pointed out in my original reply, you get all sorts of networking opportunities, not only with other participants but with the instructors and SANS staff running the conference.
Plus, on the bigger conferences that have 1 and 2 day courses included on the weekends, you typically get to attend at least one of those courses for no additional cost!
When I did the workstudy program, I attended the SEC 401 class with Dr. Cole, got access to the mp3's and the OnDemand course, got 1 certification attempt for the GSEC exam, and attended SEC 550 for $800 plus the cost of the hotel (which if I remember was around $1K for the week). I actually had the opportunity to sit in on another 2 day class had I been able to stay another couple of day, but I wasn't able to for work reasons. So for about half the total price of a live course, i got to attend 2 classes, get the GSEC certification, and get access to the onDemand bundle of the GSEC material. I'd say that's a pretty good bargain....
eCPPT - GSEC - GCIH - GWAPT - GCUX - RHCE - SCSecA - Security+ - Network+