If the laptop doesn't get to BIOS then there are other issues most likely, easy test on whether the rest of the hardware is good is to use a bootable CD/DVD/USB image. This will ensure the MoBo and other hardware are functioning. Bad drive will not prevent the BIOS from posting. But a bad MoBo, RAM or CPU will. Bad RAM or CPU will usually cause error beeps unless the CPU is really fried.
For the drive I typically keep an IDE/SATA to USB adapter handy. This lets you connect the drive as if it was an external one. If it is accessible then like Jamie said, you probably just have some data corruption. If it is not accessible and you don't hear it spinning up, then you might have a mechanical failue and there isn't much you can do with your limited budget. If you store the drive in the freezer (in a zip lock freezer bag) for a couple hours, that sometimes helps getting it to spin up enough to get data off it.