How many colleges should your kid apply to? Well, the more the merrier -- within reason (because many have application fees). If she applies to only five, she may just get into one or two. That's OK, as long as she's sure those are ones that she really likes. But, between the time she submits applications and hears back from schools, she may have changed her mind a little.
Applying to perhaps 10 or even more colleges will maximize the odds of getting into a bunch of schools she's excited about. She'll also be more likely to end up with a selection of schools to choose from. Also worth thinking about is that if she's applying for financial aid, each school will offer a different package. More schools applied to will probably yield more packages to consider.
Most colleges today have comprehensive websites that cover a broad range of topics, such as campus life, faculty, courses, financial aid, housing, information about the surrounding community, and useful addresses and phone numbers for more information. Make sure you and your child spend time checking them out.
For more info on how you can manage to actually pay for college, drop by the Fool's College Savings Center. Also, check out our previous pieces on investing for college, planning for college, and selling college to your kids.