Some of the most accomplished students and parents I meet believe that they must enroll in a highly prestigious or ivy league college to be successful. However, most are unaware that such decisions can increase their costs depending on their income. The reason is twofold:
1) the majority of such colleges have migrated to a need-based aid philosophy
2) all students who apply to such schools have such similar achievement that it is hard for most students to stand out.
The same student applying to a wider variety of colleges will find excellent quality and a variety of costs and merit aid offers. Parents save the most money at the stage of college planning in which the college targets are decided. All ivies could mean a great or not so great financial offer depending on family income. A more diverse set of college targets that includes colleges that are seeking the type of student they have, will result in lower costs for the family.