We are saving for our daughter's college, with the intention of paying the equivalent tuition for a state/public university. So, if tution is 10,000/yr (I know inflation will increase it, but, just for fun), we'll pay 40,000 toward her education.
Anything beyond that she pays for herself.
If she gets a scholarship, we'll give her the money we planned for her tuition to her upon graduation as a gift.
If she gets free/reduced tuition b/c of my husband's status (he's got a Purple Heart, which, at this point, qualifies her for free/reduced tuition in some states if we're residents), we will again give her the money upon graduation.
If she decides to not go to college. Mom and Dad will be cashing in the 529, taking the penalty, and going on a very nice vacation.
Why pay? I believe deeply in higher education, and I don't think cost should be a barrier, nor do I think she should have to spend 10 years + paying off her loan...life's hard enough, and I don't think she should be penalized for wanting to educate herself. I think you can get a very good education at a public college (I did), and I don't think "private" schools are all they're jacked up to be, so, I'm not willing to spring for 40,000+/yr, but I'm more than willing to provide adequate funds for a state-run institution.