Also, a student has to be an above-average performer for post-secondary. How do you expect someone with uneducated parents to perform at that level in high school?
Both of you are partially right in the specific examples that I can tell you are thinking of.
A) If someone is that deep into poverty, chances are they qualify (and would get) Pell. There are other sources of funding on a "need based" allotment.
B) Most of my family and surrounding area where I grew up was poor. Sometimes that was the case because they just couldn't get ahead. Sometimes that was the case because they could get ahead and weren't responsible enough to do so. It's never clear cut when you look at the aggregate.
C) While there are some states where higher education is out of reach without loans for those in the bottom quartile of the income bracket (Vermont comes to mind at a whopping ~$200 a credit hour), there are many states where it's very affordable (California, and some could consider Virginia another).
D) I suggest you read up on the open access mission of community colleges. A great example would be the Middle College program in Virginia. If you don't qualify for Middle College, I'm not sure paying for higher education (or the lack of education that your parents had) is the problem that needs to be worked on first... I also recommend reading up on 2+2 agreements of transferring to a 4 year instead of starting there as a way to reduce costs. Last I recommend reading up on many community college efforts to deliver instruction to high school students at their high school to mitigate factors of time/transportation/facilities/etc.
Sometimes the barriers to higher education are purely financial/time. Other times it's having the right information available to make the decisions. While you did articulate a couple of thoughts in the abstract that are valid, those ideas have issues when applied outside of the traditional 4 year mid-level/prestigious university which has been disappearing over the last decade.
disclaimer: I have worked in higher education for 8 years, 5 of which were at a community college system in their finance office. Second, I am nearing completion of a masters in (specifically) higher education administration. This is one of the few topics I can really talk about on