It is no secret.
Me and several of my friends are attending private colleges because they have programs that are highly ranked in newspapers, world class professors who have won Nobel Prizes, well established connections in the job markets, and the respect that comes along with attending these schools. There is only one drawback though
Virtually all of the top schools in the country have tuition rates in the mid 30,000s per year like the University of Michigan (Out of state), UPenn, Stanford, Harvard and Princeton. Some are in the mid 40s such as Cornell, Columbia, CMU, Georgetown, and the University of Chicago to name a few. All of these schools are well respected and have produced some revolutionary graduates who have contributed positively to the world in some form or another. But as tuition rates rise at an astounding rate, the question comes to play whether or not going to a well-esteemed school is worth the debt. Not only is getting into these schools becoming a challenge but attending them and paying the steep financial cost will be the next filter.
Graduates from these schools, assuming they don't get any financial aid whatsoever, will have over $200,000 in undergraduate debts and people who want to attend graduate school will have an additional $100,000 in debt for Masters/MBA programs. After interest is added up, it would likely take between 10 and 15 years to pay off such a large debt. Our generation will likely scrimp and save more than any generation has ever done before and college costs will be as big a commitment as mortgage and car payments if tuition keeps sky rocketing like it has done for the past two decades. If our generation does not consume as much as it should due to college costs, we will face a huge ordeal of problems in the near future as governments everywhere will struggle to pay for the pension and healthcare burden senior citizens will place on them.
But on the positive side, I highly doubt college education costs will rise to that degree to cause massive economic problems in the future. People's attitudes towards the elite colleges will change in the near future. Employers will eventually realize on a broad level that some of their brightest candidates did not go to an Ivy league school and they are starting to put less weight towards a degree from the Ivies. I think that when people understand that an elite college degree does not set them apart as much as it used to, they will eventually turn away from the steep financial prospects placed on them and they will apply to any school that values their intelligence enough to give them a scholarship. When application fees to the elite colleges drop, only then will they realize that they have to entice the public to get a degree from their university and tuition rates will become slightly more reasonable but not enough so that we won't be in debt. For my generation, it might be a little bit too late but for future college applicants, where you go doesn't determine how good you are in life. In the end you have to be the one that makes the most out of a degree. It is true that going to one of the elite colleges sets you slightly apart but it won't be worth the debt.