Although, as is common, the Mail manages to lead with a case that doesn't illustrate the underlying story. It's an account of a woman who was already in debt, has three school-age children, two failed relationships and no obvious regular income who, upon receiving £5000 earmarked for education as part of a £60k legacy, sent her youngest child to a £12k per year school (ie, even if the costs remained level, an £84k commitment). The majority of the £60k appears to have gone to servicing other debts.
That's not credit crunch, the times we live in, whatever. That's straightforward financial suicide. There are people who embark upon what appear to be manageable school fee commitments who then find their circumstances have changed (sometimes through no fault of their own, sometimes through a calculated risk going the wrong way) and therefore cannot continue to pay. That's really sad, and you can only hope that it works out for them and their children (and, in some cases, they will have already had a vague "if it goes wrong, will you underwrite this?" conversation with their parents). But in this case, there simply was no money: her income couldn't sustain her then lifestyle, her mother left her (in total) not enough to pay school fees unless every penny of it and more was used and left her (as an earmarked contribution) little more than a term's fees.
The idea that even in the boomiest of booms a free-lance writer who is separated from a non-paying father could take on £12k/year of school fees is implausible. Sentimentally saying "it was what my mother wanted" doesn't help, and her son has been very poorly served throughout.
The later stories are more representative, and you feel sympathy for them. Although "In previous years we've had family trips to California, Thailand and Canada, but finding money for the school fees means we won't be going on holiday this year" does make me think that when times were good we continued holidaying in England and occasionally camping in France and built up a warchest for the inevitable bad times, cf. Genesis 41, verses 28 to 32; I'm not sure how sympathetic I am towards people who spent all the money they earned on luxury holidays and didn't keep a reserve for the school fees they had already decided to spend.
[[ edited to correct chapter and verse: Pharoh's Dream of Seven Fat Years followed by Seven Lean years is Genesis 41, not Genesis 40. ]]