If your parents have no money and you are exceptional enough, you might get grants or scholarships. Otherwise, unless you get lucky, you are sort of screwed. Hell - I graduated 3rd in my high school and went to a state school. I got no grants, no scholarships, no anything. My dad had no savings whatsoever and so he did what he could given his salary - which was high enough that I got nothing but not high enough that he could pay for my school. I did work full time every summer and 16 - 20 hours a week through all of my years in college to at least to minimize the amount of debt that I'd have. I mopped floors, washed dishes, scraped tape off the floor in a warehouse, repackaged tires/inner tubes, worked in a call center for airline reservations and did all sorts of equally thrilling jobs. Even with that, I ended up with debt equivalent to about a years worth of room and board and tuition. There was a night guard job at a freshman girls dormitory that was pretty fun though... I did like working hard the whole time but was envious of those who could devote all of their energies to enjoying their college experience without real responsibilities.