My brother and I had this discussion last night as he set up a fund for his son...a little late mind you since the kid is 12 going on 13.
UW Madison, who seems to raise tuition every single year, isn't the $3-4,000 a semester it was when I went to school 20+ years ago. I think its closer to $10K now?
And no, you don't need a college education to be successful and I still think in today's economic climate the average guy might be better off developing a skill and being damn good at it. My MIL's boyfriend is a master welder - has a rock solid rep with his own shop - and is almost to the point he either must turn down jobs or cut back on his 70-80 hour work weeks. Even bringing in help in the form of a full time employee and two part timers barely allows him to meet deadlines - but he does meet them.
Are you paying for your kid's college? I can't see how families with 2 or 3 kids do it considering the cost of an education now a days. UW Madison as mentioned above has also become more selective - where you could get accepted with a 2.2 GPA 20 years ago not any more. So even the "encourage your kid and hopefully he gets some grants and scholarships" barely covers your bases any more.
State of Ohio paid for my sons education, daughter used a combination of grants, scolarships, income from working, and help for mom and dad. me and wife paid for hers, employer paid for mine.