A reliable place to start is www.studentaid.ed.gov, which is a site run by the US Department of Education.
You can also learn a lot from www.collegesavings.org, which is run by an association of state treasurers.
As a good principle, it’s wise to start early and save a little bit each month. For example, if you started saving $1/day ($30/month), over 18 years at a 3% interest rate, you’d end up with around $8,000. It’s not enough to pay for the full 4 years, but it’s a start. If you had $2 a day to save (what some people spend on coffee) you’d be around $17,000.
If you smoke cigarettes, one reason to stop (not the best one) is that you can put away a lot of money for college. Imagine that you smoked ½ pack per day. At that rate, with a pack costing maybe $7, you might be paying upwards of $100/month on cigarettes. If you put that money into a college savings account at 3% annual interest, you’d have about $28,000 saved for college.
[this page was last updated by Robert Needlman, on 11-25-2018]