To briefly recap: America is currently in a student loan bubble, holding an unimaginably huge amount of student debt, as delinquency of loan payments swells, and even the well-off question whether they can afford college. It would seem, then, rather obvious that student loan debt is too big. Surprise: the people who control the higher education spigot—college admissions directors—disagree!
A new Inside Higher Ed survey of college admissions counselors of all sorts asked: What do you consider a "reasonable debt level" for a student to have, for four years in school? Fort two percent said $20k-$30k, and 17% said $30K-$40K, meaning that a vast majority of college admissions directors are perfectly comfortable with you coming out of their school with between $20k and $40K worth of debt.
Whether you believe that is problematic or not probably correlates with both your income and your faith in our economy to provide stable, well-paying jobs to new college graduates. As a statement of The New Normal, yes, it is problematic.
Furthermore, 61% of admissions directors said that "gapping"—admitting students and giving them financial aid packages that they know are insufficient, meaning they will have to take private loans or, you know, rob a bank in order to enroll—is ethical. That is problematic as well.
Notably, admissions directors at community colleges had a far more conservative view of acceptable debt, and were far less likely to consider gapping to be ethical. Good for them. Community colleges are the last hope for lower and middle class kids chasing the elusive American dream. Too bad they can't get in.