I talk to families everyday about college and managing college cost. It is always a surprise to them that the best way to contain cost is to put that in the plan first-before looking at any colleges. Unfortunately, many select a college and then think about how to minimize costs. To me, that is like going to the Mercedes dealer new car lot first and then worrying about how to pay for the car. Car buyers know to look at costs first and look for deals. College buyers should do the same.
There are college deals to be had...but you have to be willing to compromise. Just as you would if you were shopping for a car. Where are the deals? The deals in colleges are like the deals in cars. What college wants your kid really bad? That's a deal college for you. There are many other deals out there in higher education. Look for them first, then start thinking about where to apply. Don't do college financing backward; selecting a college and then looking for a deal.