problem is that all four of your requirements, accessibility, price etc, . . . are usually not present for most
applicants especially low income ones
Find a sure-bet college for admission. Love it. Apply to it early.
My son applied early action to two schools, one a likely and the other a safety, and then applied ED to a reach school.
If you apply to a school with early acceptance or rolling admission, can you wait until you hear from all your schools before you make your final decision?
The way we can be most sure that that college is a "safety" for our son, when the time comes for him to apply to college in fall 2009, is to seize the earliest opportunity to submit a "rolling" application to that college (which indeed will be an "on the spot" application during the first week of October), so that we get an instant read of his chances at that college.