The government provides Pell Grants to low income students, which don't have to be paid back. These grants top out at around $5,500 a year. If your parents make over $50,000 a year you don't qualify. The government also provides Stafford loans which do have to be paid back, and they vary from about $5,500 to $7,500 a year for undergraduates depending on which year of school they are in. This doesn't seem like extravagant government spending to me. Without these programs a lot of poor and middle class kids wouldn't get the opportunity to go to college.