We examine more than one million children whose parents won a state lottery to trace out the effect of additional household resources on college outcomes. The analysis draws on the universe of federal tax records linked to federal financial aid records and leverages substantial variation in the size and timing of wins. The results reveal modest, increasing, and only weakly concave effects of resources: wins less than $100,000 have little influence on college-going (i.e., effects greater than 0.3 percentage point can be ruled out) while very large wins that exceed the cost of college imply a high upper bound (e.g., wins over $1,000,000 increase attendance by 10 percentage points).So lottery winners are not much more likely than similar non-lottery winners to send their kids to college. I can think of about a hundred reasons this might not mean much: maybe lottery winners are less intelligent than other people, or less focused on education as a route to success, or less intellectual, or however you want to formulate it. Or maybe the fact of winning the lottery encourages magical thinking in the whole family. Etc.
But anyway I have never believe that money is the thing that keeps people from attending or finishing college. Obviously that does happen, but the main reason people don't go to college is that they don't want to, and the main reason they drop out is that they find it boring and pointless.
I am opposed to making student loans our main funding mechanism because the 20s are a tough time for many, many people, and dumping all those debt repayments on people at that vulnerable point in their lives strikes me as a disaster. Student loans show up repeatedly as the main practical concern of young people disaffected with our system, e.g. Sanders supporters. So if I were in charge I would drastically rein in student loans.
But I think asking all students to pay something, and those who can to pay a lot, makes more sense than offering college for free to anyone. In the US, too many people go to college already.