Here is what I know. I made less than $14K last year with a family of three and am over 24 so parents status dosnt impact it, yet I didnt qualify to pell grant or ANY aid. (only stafford loans, which despite being calling them "aid" have to be paid back)I chose to take out the loan instead of asking my parents to apply for a parent plus loan. First hand, real life experience. Thats what I know and how I know it.
When I was in undergrad (and under 24), I applied for government loans. My parents earned pretty decent salaries and I was their dependent, but I was still offered more loan money than it cost to attend school and live on campus. I guess it may somewhat depend on the state or the school. For example, it sounds like it may be harder to get government loans when attending FL schools, but that may be because of their Bright Futures program (I sure wish my home state had that deal when I was in college).
Well, I'm sure it didn't exceed whatever was allowed, but it was quite a bit more than was needed to pay for tuition, a dorm room, and the meal plan. It probably included general living expenses as well or something. All I know is that my school was about $8K/yr (including room & board) and they wanted to give me about $17K. (This was about 6 years ago & I didn't take any of the loan money, so I don't remember exact amounts.) I thought it was weird because my friend who went to a much more expensive school in a different state couldn't get enough government loans to pay for her school and she had to take out private loans.
Oh, ok. The reason I thought it was weird that she couldn't get enough money was because her school cost more than mine, but the government was willing to loan me more than they would loan her, so she had to take out private loans. Like you were saying, I also thought they were supposed to loan up to a certain amount--I know JD it's $20K or 20.5K and then you have to grad plus or private loans. I mentioned her loan options compared to mine thinking maybe it had something to do with what you all were talking about when you said your parents can affect whether you get loans in undergrad.
It probally matters what community you grow up in, to decide your view on that. I agree with you that if your parents are millioniares and don't feel the strain, then go for it.What bugs me I guess, is to see parents take out "parent plus loans" to take care of it for their kids. To me, if someone would do that to their parents, it just screams about how little they respect them. I have friends who had to have parents cosign, and I understand that from a credit requirment perspective, but to have the parent take the bucket load of the debt, just screams selfishness.