I was very lucky to go to college in the 1980′s, when costs were a fraction of what they are now. I also lucked out that my dad, in his continuous efforts to screw-up my mom, had made it a condition in their divorce that if our family home was ever sold, the proceeds were to be divided evenly between all five of us kids and mom. the house sold while on my 2nd year in college, and my part of the proceeds were enough to cover tuition and books; I student-worked to cover living expenses. thus I was able to finish college without any student loan debt.
things have changed since then. a lot. this infographic from College Scholarships explains: