I don't want to post - i admire you just from your response. It is difficult to navigate the system, because it is indeed set up with the expectations parents will pay and if they do not do so, well, a young person could struggle.
I have good adults to thank - people such as Larry Ellis at Princeton who apprised me what I was in for with my family. My father, who told everyone he was a NCAA champion and Olympian in Rome (this was published in the Chicago Tribune 10 years back) when we was only a NCAA finalist in the javelin (impressive to me as he got kicked out of two schools for criminal conduct and managed to throw the javelin at his third school). Apparently my father harangued Ivy League athletic directors, accusing them of hiding athletic scholarships that they secretly gave out! When I dropped my kid off at Princeton for the first time 10 years , I was saddened that I never properly thanked Coach Ellis. I should have done so. Any program of relying on my father would have resulted in me being kicked out of school for financial reasons. He didn't have to explain this to me, but he did and it could not have been easy. The school I chose did not have a helpful athletic department - they were not used to poor people - and really not used to poor athletic people who were admitted in the top 20 percent of the class because they just figured we would make it. Their best runners went to fancy prep schools. The faculty itself was excellent though and went out of their way to look out for me, pushing me into an incredibly competitive honors program where I finished my thesis on a heavy IBM Selectric well into the night after running the Penn 4 x mile I was consistently surprised at how much effort they put into making me perform in the classroom. I never loved getting yelled at so much. I did well enough . I mention this because in spite of the poverty and social outcast problems with my situation, I had a lot of freedom - much more than if I had to communicate with parents - and I liked the freedom and was not a victim. This is why, while different parents have different approaches, honesty and integrity in communication is what matters.
My brother and I differ, although I respect his thoughts and I understand his anger. He went to one of the schools my father got kicked out of, and he was phi beta kappa in math and with a gpa of 4.0. It was obvious where his motivation came from. At the end of the day you have to be happy. Your point about putting kids three steps behind by not supporting them is a great one, though, and I do have moments of upset when I think about the starvation diet I was on (I had a 70 percent scholarship with no board), with no dental visits for five years, no eye doctor with horrible eyesight, and so on. But I was no victim - i got very comfortable looking in the mirror and acknowledging that is who I had to please. And note, on this message board, there are many just like me, with even better achievements.