I would also add that achieving higher education was not dependent on money your family had or you could barrow. You could enter most prestigious university as long as you could pass the entrance exams and do better then the other 100+ people applying for the same seat. As soon as you enter the first grade you were prepared by parents and teachers for college. Your parents financial situation was not a show stopper for college acceptance it was all up to you. And you where always (In school and at home) reminded about that. In Russia, if you entered college with 0 financial support from you family, you would exit college at a round same mark. The problem in see in USA is if you enter even most inexpensive state college with 0 financial support from family you would be lucky to exit it with less then $50000 in dept. The burden that you must pay off for decades to come.