For years, colleges and government has preached that a college education is the ticket to a better career. The idea that "education is the great equalizer" is also pushed - that *everyone* is "entitled" to a college education, including the poor.
Every year, schools raise tuition so that those who actually pay tuition can cover both their own share of increased costs, as well as cover the non-payers share. So, tuition increases far outpace inflation to cover non-paying students.
Unfortunately, what's seen as the "ability to pay" is often just the ability to borrow - a middle-class kid with no assets has to mortgage their future in student loans while a "poor" kid with no assets does not.
The middle-class getting squeezed again.