Don’t make promises you cannot keep.
In the college search and selection process, parents should think very carefully before assuring their child that “we’ll find a way to pay for it.” That promise could be the cause of deep disappointment or crushing student debt.
In answering the question, “Should Students Apply to Reach Schools?“, Do It Yourself College Rankings discusses the pitfalls of applying to colleges that are financial reaches.
The simple answer is not to apply to any college that you can’t afford to attend.
The more detailed answer would be that it’s fine to apply to a financial reach school if everyone clearly understands that only significant financial aid would make matriculation possible should the student be accepted. But to avoid unnecessary disappointment and stress in making the final decision where to attend, one recommendation is to get a sense about the likelihood of receiving financial aid by running the Net Price Calculator tool very early in the process. Also consider the realistic chances of merit aid, which is often not included in the NPC estimate.
For more insight on what makes sense for your family when deciding whether to apply to a financial reach, check out the complete DIY Rankings answer.