Without student loans, colleges would only be able to charge what the market can bear. No entity can violate this ironclad law of economics. If families can't pay the amount of tuition that you charge, you're not getting that amount of tuition, period. Loan availability increases the amount that families can afford to pay. In principle, there is nothing wrong with this idea, and in fact if the free market were allowed to determine loan availability, the system as a whole would quickly converge onto the optimal amount of loan availability. Under this hypothetical free-market scenario, banks wishing to make student loans would have to vet their students properly and make sure with reasonable confidence that they will be repaid. If the free market were at work, there would be a natural market-based limit on the amount of loan money available, simply because not every student is going to represent a good investment.
Unfortunately, what we have right now in the student loan market is not even close to a free market. The dominant lender is the government, and even in the case of privately held student loans, the laws and regulations governing student loans are highly and artificially favorable to the lenders. To give just a few examples, unlike any other form of loan, student loans (including private loans) can almost never be discharged in bankruptcy; cannot expire from statute of limitations; allow the lender to garnish wages, tax refunds, social security, and disability payments without a court order; and repayment is guaranteed by the government, even if the borrower defaults (but the lender can still pursue the borrower for repayment even after the government makes them whole). The result of such amazingly biased and favorable laws is exactly what you would expect: lenders throw money at students far out of proportion to the actual amount of money that it would make economic sense for them to lend under ordinary circumstances. Having this much money supply available in the system is then the primary factor that enables and allows ridiculous increases in tuition.
I don't have school age children yet, but I will soon. I have no intention of taking out loans or making them take out loans, no matter how hard it is to achieve this goal. I would love to compete on a level playing field with other similarly responsible parents, but unfortunately I'm not going to have that chance. Instead I'm going to have to compete with irresponsible borrowers who have borrowed way more money than anything that remotely makes sense for them to borrow.
So, yes, you can customize Windows installs, but it's much more expensive to do so in any legal way, since you need an enterprise license, which really does cost ridiculous amounts of money. There is no cheap way to get customizable Windows. Even then, it's a bit of a hassle compared to Linux.
Microsoft and Apple are poor choices unless your (sysadmin, IT, and staff) time isn't worth anything.
Those are just the direct costs of compliance. The indirect costs of Microsoft's licensing model are something that even fewer users realize. You can't customize a distro and legally release the result to anyone outside of the organizational unit holding the license. You can't slipstream updates and legally distribute to outside parties. You can't create USB bootable media and legally release it to anyone else. Rescue discs and installation discs customized for particular hardware are left to the mercy of your OEM. All of these restrictions cause considerable friction which slows down the agility of your business. If nothing else, it makes it very hard to outsource IT functions; at most, you can hire contractors who have to keep your OS software bits separate from everyone else's OS software bits. How can this situation possibly compare favorably to free software where anyone can create and share anything? It really can't.