I went full array local dimming LED-LCD because to get a plasma >=55" that doesn't look grainy, or buzz, I would have to spend more than $2k. The XVT3D554SV, and others, kill the plasmas in its price and size category. Kill. Plasmas seem cheaper, until you realize the cheap ones are cheap because they suck.
LED-LCD - It's quiet as a mouse, sharp, and has really nice contrast. Oh yeah, and I don't have to alternate the freaking pixels on the screen to prevent burn-in.
Did I mention it doesn't buzz?
The best thing to do is check them out yourself, side-by-side. Everyone says not to look at them in a bright store, but they only say that because of contrast - and plasmas need a darker room. Fine. Find a store with a darker room.
edit: after reviewing the actual question in the 1st post (and not just the thread title), you may be able to do okay going cheap plasma. small screen college student budget may change things - greatly. Not sure how small screen prices are doing...