This link to a graphic presentation about the government's student loan program is simply shocking. Keep reading all the way down to the end for suggestions about how to avoid such slavery.
Glenn Reynolds pointed to this webpage. Many thanks to him. (He's amazing.)
As Mary was graduating from college, we discussed her going to law school, but the only ones that made educational sense to us at that time, were the top ones, such as the one at UChi. (We might have been wrong about the need to attend an elite school, but that has been our thinking - put our children among the brainiest kids we can find, and maybe some of that will rub off on them.) Had she gone to Chicago, the cost would have exceeded $150,000.
Upon graduation, could she have chosen a smaller, more humane law practice situation? Or, absent help from us, would a large education debt have forced her to go into a large firm. Such firms often treat their young lawyers as so much cannon fodder. (We presume she could get a job at a high paying, big firm, having graduated from an elite school.)
But let me also add that if one is able to finance his education and then move into a career suited for that person, a career by which the person can pay off the debt within a reasonable period, and if the long-term economic return more than compensates for the cost (and risk) of the debt, then education debt is not necessarily a bad thing. The risk is that the longer-term economic return will not be there, as appears to be the case with a legal education these days. Risk, of course, is not bad. It simply needs to be reasonable. One should take it on with eyes wide open.