8000 wow. Really??? So yes I worked at Penland, Haystack, Arrowmont and the Appalachian Center for Crafts. All fantastic! And as far as the costs look into those schools. There are many many more options then there were when I was younger. Anderson Ranch is also a great place! I think it gets down to what technique you are looking at or the person who you may desire to study under. These are concentrated blocks of time and the money is worth it to me if you can swing it. There are also many times opportunities to be a work study student. 8 grand is also around what you may pay as a special student at a university and maybe that could also be another avenue.
As far as reviews... They are all great and it really depends on what you want to learn.