I'll bet you don't know that back in the Sixties and Seventies, it was not only possible but quite easy to get a free college education, paid for by the U. S. government. So long as you weren't wealthy.
Before I explain how that worked, though, I must tell you how I paid for my college education. Just so you don't think that this is special pleading on my part.
My parents saved to help put their children through school. But since they had five kids, that was far from enough. I did benefit from several scholarships I won in my senior year of high school and was grateful for them, though none were very large. So, to keep the debt manageable, I chose a state-supported school in Virginia, where I was a resident. That saved a bundle in tuition. During the summer, I worked 48 hours a week at the Johnson Carper Furniture factory and resented every hour of it. During the school year, I had a part-time job at the library, which I quite enjoyed. All of which almost covered everything. The rest I paid for with a student loan, easily arranged through the student aid office and backed by the Federal government.
When I graduated, I owed a couple of thousand dollars and could not find a job. (There was a recession.) I hit the road without leaving a forwarding address. When I found work, I wrote to the aid office and arranged to start making payments. Then, when the job evanesced underfoot, I moved on, found work elsewhere and wrote the aid office again. It only took me a couple of years to square accounts.
Mind you, this was possible because they weren't charging compound interest on the loan. The government just wanted their money back. They weren't looking to make a profit from me.
Now here's how a lot of people I knew personally got a free education:
1) They took out government-backed loans to pay for everything.
2) A week after graduation, they declared bankruptcy.
It was as simple as that. I forget the exact terms, but the government would only seize those assets above and beyond a certain minimum. You could keep your car, the furniture in your apartment, and enough cash to keep you off the dole. And since very few of my friends had any significant assets, the procedure was virtually painless. Even to the companies making the loans. The government paid off on every defaulted loan. So it was easier to bill the Feds than to pursue a recent grad who probably didn't have the money anyway.
Since then, the government has tightened up the bankruptcy laws, college tuitions have skyrocketed, and the student loan program has become a profit center. Higher education is a very different game from what it used to be. You might almost say it's become a blood sport.
So if you think the Biden administration student loan forgiveness plan is a massive giveaway... Man, you shoulda been around in the Old Days.
Above: Image from NicePNG.com