Personally I had no student loans. I had a lot of benefit from the GI Bill, I worked 20 to 24 hours a week in the student cafeteria, and had these strange things called summer jobs. I rode a bicycle, no car for me. When I graduated I owed zero, then immediately went into debt to get a car so I could go to work.
I was in school during the 50's, 60's, 70's, and 80's! Of course, nearly two-thirds of the time I spent inside those walls, the cost to me was free ... That was because of the "bare-foot school boy" legislation from several generations before the bell rang for my first day in first grade .
I didn't intend to jump right into college. Having some money was a reason, both to wait and to jump in. I finally jumped in because it looked like I was gonna be sitting around aaalll one winter with no job, no income. Borrowed $300/semester (for the first 6 semesters) and jumped in. ... with 1,800 bucks ... .
So, what are you goin' on about, Steve? That ain't much money!
No, you're right it ain't, isn't! But, I started down that path when Johnson was president (Lyndon not Andrew!). A dollar was a dollar and a beer was 25¢. And, my first 3 semesters were at a 2 year college where tuition and fees were $127/semester! Even today that would be a great price! The Bureau of Labor Statistics tells me with inflation over the years! It would be $800/semester in today's dollars. Instead, that little 2 year college charges $2,011/semester, according to their website.
I went on for the next 5 semesters at a state university and seem to remember that tuition and fees were nearly twice what I'd been paying. I guess so ... in-state full-time the U of I tells me is now $3,510/semester. No room, no board, no books. Adjusting for inflation, students in these 2 state schools in the US hinterland are paying 2.5 times what I paid.
I never felt I could afford to live on campus. I finished those 8 semesters in 6 years. Seems that there were a couple years in there with different priorities.
I was in college in the early 70s. Tuition was so much per semester not so much per credit as it is now. By taking 18 - 24 credits each semester (12 was full time) I was able to get out in a bit over 3 years. Never lived on campus as I was married at the time.
At least one semester of tuition went to Dad who had me borrowed it so he could buy another house.