In our society we unintentionally tease children about college. We tell them they should go to college while they are growing up. We don't give them any parameters about money. Then, in their senior year of high school, we pull the rug out from under them by telling them that mom and dad cannot afford to pay tuition at just any college they want to attend. Only then do we tell them their spending limit.
Parents need to let children know when they begin high school approximately how much financial help they can expect from their family. This helps the student pick a college within his price range and/or put extra effort into the scholarship application process.
Without financial disclosure to children at the beginning of the process, the college choice exercise resembles taking a teen to a car lot to pick out a car and after they picked out their sports car, telling them they have to pick their car from rent a wreck.