Yeah, I'm actually in agreement-- with all of that.

If it's the RIGHT school, then that has to include financial considerations. It just has to. That's not to say that we'll get to name our price, though. LOL. I wish.

Reed isn't seriously on my list, either-- but it's a relatively local "fit" (the only one within 600 miles of us that isn't a "safety"), let's just say, and an admission there can be used-- as Jon notes--

to leverage additional merit $ from public/less prestigious schools that still have good-to-very-good programs in my DD's interest areas.

Places like UW, Linfield, Gonzaga and Cal Poly, basically. It's possible that this is a regional thing. There are fewer "top" students vying for merit aid at places where population is sparser. We do know several people who have been able to leverage prestigious admissions this way within the past four to seven years, though, so it's a real effect.

Also-- at an increasing majority of college campuses, the notion that it couldn't keep going like that has proven to be true. It hasn't, in spite of gut-churning annual tuition increases. 72% of college courses are now being taught by non-tenured/non-tenure-track faculty. Adjuncts, post docs, and fixed-term faculty. It's the money. The other problem is that courses are full, thereby increasing time-to-degree. Even Berkeley isn't quite what it used to be there, which is why we've opted to bag that entire system in spite of the loyalty that we naturally feel. Five years ago, I'd have felt differently, but it really does feel too fragile to continue-- and we're hearing that from insiders (faculty and admin) within the most prestigious UC campuses-- they are advising their OWN kids to look elsewhere, basically. That has shifted just within the past 24 months or so. It's a disturbing change.

Our state has frozen tuition increases temporarily, too. But everyone knows that is merely a band-aid. The student loan bubble is fraying around the edges, and I don't think that anyone knows for sure where those particular ripples are going to wind up.

Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.