Is it the Flute or the Player?
A very big question that comes about, is whether achieving a good tone and such is based on what flute you have, or if it is based on the player. My answer to that one is that is mainly based off of the players ability to produce a good tone.
You might argue that all the really good flute players out ther, i.e. James Galway, have 14K gold flutes. Now, I am not going to lie and say that you can have a student model flute for your whole life and sound amazing. At some point, you are going to have to upgrade to a nicer flute to expand your skills. Does the upgrade necessarily have to be a solid gold flute? No.
From my perspective, I see the solid gold flute to be more of a symbol of professionalism, and not as much as being able to produce a good tone. In many videos on YouTube, there are flute players that test out 10-15 different flutes so you can see if having a different flute would really affect your playing all that much.
There were minute details that you could tell that were different if you had a trained ear, but for the most part, they sounded basically the same.
If you are still stuck with a student model, I would suggest that you upgrade to at least an intermediate model, if not a professional model. You will be able to get a better response, and use more advanced techniques that you would not usually be able to do with a student model flute. If you are stuck with a student model flute, it is fine.
What you need to work on is getting a better tone, instead of spending thousands of dollars on a new flute. New flutes may look pretty and such, but they don't have a set tone that will come with it, so you can't just a buy a new flute, and sound amazing.
So my best advice to you is to practice long tones, really work on listening and producing a sound that is unique to you, but yet still have a tone that other people also want to hear it as well.