I ranted a bit on the twitters last night, which isn't advisable, but at least it keeps me from ranting quite as much on the blog.
I suggested that in my presidential run (which will never happen), I will propose that the Kids Today should be able to pay the in state tuition+fees that the median age member of Congress paid when they were 18. That age is 61, so we roll back to 1973. This lazy blogger could only find data back to 1976, so close enough. Average 4 year public university (on edit: annual) tuition (higher than community colleges) was about $1200 back then, which would be $5000 in today's dollars.
It ain't free, but it's certainly cheaper than what it is today, which is about $9400. Numbers are for in-state students, and are according to the internet which is never wrong.
I taught at UC-Irvine from 2000-2002. Even then you could kind of afford to pay your way through college, by working full time in summer and probably too many part time hours during the academic year. I had plenty of students who seemed to be doing that, though I certainly didn't know the full details of their situations. That isn't possible now, unless your summer job is something like "working at your Dad's car dealership."
The Kids Today start life with a mortgage and no house. Now we all agree they were stupid for borrowing so much money and going to college, but find me one prominent commenter, almost of all of whom went to elite schools, who said anything other than "an elite education is worth every penny!" pre-2007. That's what The Kids Today were told to do. More than that, pointless credentialing is now the norm. It's practically impossible to get a shitty entry level job in most careers without a college degree, and quite hard to get on a good path without a degree from a relatively "respectable" institution.