In his live(ish) webcast townhall meeting, President Barack Obama said that students come out of college with "$20,000, 30,000, 40,000" worth of debt. He noted that it's tough to get ahead if you come out of college with the equivalent of a mortgage.
Leaving aside questions of how many people should go to college (about two-thirds of graduating high school seniors go on to higher ed, though many fewer gradjiate), here's the relevant data on student-loan burdens:
In each year between 2000 - 01 and 2006 - 07, an estimated 60% of bachelor's degree recipients borrowed to fund their education. Average debt per borrower rose 18%, from $19,300 to $22,700 in 2007 dollars over this time period. Average debt per bachelor's degree recipient increased from $10,600 to $12,400.
Source: The College Board (Trends in Student Aid - 2008)
As someone who borrowed to finance both undergraduate and graduate degrees, that amount of debt, especially balanced against likely increases in purchasing power, does not strike me as onerous or misplaced.