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.