Yes, it was rainy and gray. Even a little chilly. But none of it was a deterrent Saturday — at least not among college students who were lured out of their dorms by a lot of free stuff in Philadelphia.

Thousands of students from area colleges and universities gathered in Center City on Saturday for Campus Philly's annual CollegeFest, a welcome-to-town festival that kicked off in the shadow of City Hall and sent students — many sporting their schools' colors — fanning out throughout the downtown to get acquainted with its many cultural institutions at no cost.

At Dilworth Plaza, students were greeted by music, games, water bottles and other giveaways, and remarks from City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, whose West Philadelphia district includes University City — home to Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania. From there, students headed to the Art Museum, Franklin Institute, National Constitution Center, African American Museum, Betsy Ross House, and Eastern State Penitentiary, each offering free admission Saturday in hopes of winning fans for life.

With college costs rising faster than other prices, rapid changes in the overall robust job market, digital learning sparking a debate over the future of higher education, and student debt a huge factor in major life decisions like career choices, home purchases, and marriage, the Inquirer asked CollegeFestgoers how they are affording school.

Tatiana Proctor
YONG KIM
Tatiana Proctor

Tatiana Proctor, junior, culinary, the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College

My mom is paying for me. She works at Comcast.

Cali Arenson
YONG KIM
Cali Arenson

Cali Arenson, senior, communications, La Salle University

My parents are helping me with college — they got the loans.

Graham Bowen
YONG KIM
Graham Bowen

Graham Bowen, junior, nutrition and dietetics, West Chester University

I'm paying for it from my savings, and my parents are helping.

Kendell Lewis
YONG KIM
Kendell Lewis

Kendell Lewis, freshman, mechanical engineering, Drexel University

I got scholarships, and I'm going to be getting a few loans.

Xavier James
YONG KIM
Xavier James

Xavier James, freshman, engineering, Thomas Jefferson University-East Falls campus

How am I paying for this? With student loans, probably.

Kenny Mai
YONG KIM
Kenny Mai

Kenny Mai, freshman, civil engineering, Drexel University

I got a scholarship, so I'm not paying for it!