The money doesn’t go to the parents, though. But it’s the main path to the married class. A fundamental error is the view that college is a net financial loss for middle class women. But this dismisses the reality that the college “bride price” is how those women display their marriageability and secure marriage to a man who can lead them into firm footing in the married class. The fringe notion that college is for harlotry is nearly the opposite of the reality that’s led to a supermajority of children being born to college-educated mothers and a majority being born to college-completing mothers (BA and beyond).
Women were taking 40% of the BAs in 1970. Those women’s daughters have come to completely dominate married motherhood, so of course college for girls Just Makes Sense. When your daughter is going to marry a guy who’s already graduated a couple years earlier and who’s already making 70k while she’s walking into 40k starting, suddenly the 15k or 25k in student loans doesn’t seem like such a big deal.