You're definitely correct that an 80K-200K debt for college is almost never worth it. Too many people pay for the name value of the school, not the education.
When I earned my BS in Mechanical Engineering from Cal State Long Beach, it wasn't considered a prestigous school (and still isn't), but back in 1974-1978, it only cost $95/semester, not including books. Before that, I had a full 4 yr. scholarship from NROTC to USC, that would have cost the taxpayer about $12,000/semester. I decided to give up the NROTC and go to CSULB. The only thing most of the big name/high-price universities have going now days is professors who write a lot of papers/books and perform a lot of taxpayer funded worthless studies.