Student debt is a bit of a red herring.
I’m a full professor at a major, publicly funded, west coast university. Tuition at public universities is still relatively affordable though private universities are much less so. However students (and often their parents) often think “cost be damned I’m going to the prestiges PRIVATE university”. The cost and debt associated with these private universities, as well as the often ill-chosen degree programs, will not really aid the majority of the students in finding financially rewarding employment.
Moreover, at four year university only a small percentage of students actually work to help with the costs. A much larger percentage of students willingly take out exorbitant amounts of school LOANS without thinking about the consequences down the road. Many of these student buy TVs and cars with the money and think nothing of eating out 5-7 days of the week plus the morning Starbucks. I admit that the banks are a major culprit in encouraging student to do so. However, there is also a strong sense of entitlement on the part of the students; I’m owed this (e.g., newish car), I deserve that (good grade for minimal work)… Most of these students would not even consider working in lieu of taking out additional loans. We would be best served by actually LIMITING the amount of money a student can take out and actively encouraging the student to work part-time to meet their financial needs. If you need $20,000 a year, we can loan you $10,000 (max) and you must work for the rest….