When sending my daughter to college, I felt it important that not only did college not mean parties and alcohol, but it also had to mean as much to her as it did to me. I felt a good way to do this would be to have her be responsible for the majority of the cost of school.
First we applied all the money that had been saved for her and by her since she was born. Next, I helped her figure out how to apply for as much financial aid as she could.
Then we worked on how to fund the balance in ways that would be 100% her debt, without me having to be listed as a co-signer.
Last I calculated for her how much she would need to earn when she graduated to be able to pay rent, utilities, food, car maintenance and other necessary expenses, but no money for entertainment or anything else. This was to help her know the minimum she would have to earn from her first job out of school to be able to support herself.
She never knew that my plan was that if she graduated in four years with good grades and no trouble, then maybe her graduation present from me would be to take over her loan payments. However if she did not, the debt would be hers.
She did very well at school and did graduate in four years with good grades. At graduation I offered her two options, I would either take over the payments on her loans or I would buy her a new car and pay for insurance for the first year. Since we live in Connecticut and she was planning to stay in California where she went to school and did not have a car, she opted for the car.