"Going to college is not the same straightforward decision it used to be."
Honestly, (and you've basically said this), taking out significant loans to go to college is not the same straightforward decision it used to be.
I understand that for some people it's simply not possible to go to college without taking on debt. I don't think this is the case for the vast majority of people. If someone would have made 18 year old me more aware of the burden that not going to a state school and working a job or two during my four years was going to be, I would have been a lot less likely to do it. Sure, I had fun, and I ended up without a lot of debt anyway, but it wasn't worth paying interest on for the better part of a decade.
I think I could've also gone to a state school and come out with less debt. Ultimately it worked out, but I have to imagine there are plenty of people for whom it did not work out. Even if your degree is worthless in practice (because of circumstance, career, etc), at least you be paying out hundreds of dollars each month for loans.