When we went to college, back in the days of dinosaurs, it was pretty inexpensive. My tuition was $750 a year, my books were about $200 a year and my biggest expense, as a science major, was lab fees. Mr Sunshine State had a small student loan that we repaid at the rate of $86 a month.
After we graduated we bought a brand new Ford Mustang for about $3500.
Our first child chose not to go to college, for many practical reasons. Our second child is now in college. We always planned to get her through without taking out any loans. She's in her third year and up until this fall, that was working pretty well.
She goes to University of Tropical Paradise for the whopping sum of $4078 a year for in-state tuition and fees. She shares an off-campus townhouse with 3 other students and her rent, utilities,cable and internet total about $515 a month. If we had stayed in MA, typical tuition and fees at a state school would have been $7441.
She will most likely go to Grad school and need to buy a car after next year. I would rather have less money in the bank now than saddle her with student loans and a car loan before she even starts her career.
I can't imagine sending more than one child to college at the same time. The ParentPlus loans would force us to work until we were 85. Or dead. I'm proud that she has chosen a field she thinks she will love and make more money per year than I ever dreamed of.
I try to help her out with grocery shopping when I can. Her Sorority Sisters have helped with letting her borrow their textbooks and every now then we have to make a small withdrawal from Bank Of Grandma. Her part-time job is her Entertainment Fund, because Mom and Dad can barely afford their own entertainment!
I have an immense amount of respect for many of my co-workers who are either working full-time with me and also going to college full-time, or work another full-time job and need to supplement their income with a part-time job. I'm talking especially about all the elementary school teachers I work with.
There has to be a better system than forcing families to go deeply into debt to pay for a good education. I hope it's coming soon.