Forget Columbia and Cornell. Focus on Community College.

High-school seniors are now filling out college applications, while their parents freak out about how they're going to pay the five-figure yearly tuition. My many friends who are parents to kids of all ages are wondering how they're going to balance their 401(k)s with 529 plans.

Ken and Daria Dolan have good advice in their recent blog posting about affording college, but I need to add my two cents:

  • Skip the Ivy League for now, and focus on more affordable state schools and community colleges, at least for the first two years.

  • Don't break your back paying your kids' way through school; have them help pay their way .