Cyrano, I work at a college, and let me tell you, most of the students are not stressing about finances - in fact, most of them don't know a damn thing about finances.
They've got elaborate meal plans, fun concerts on the weekends, parties, you name it. In fact, it's probably the most cushy life ever for an academic environment. Certainly, I am sure a small percentage of financially aware students are limiting their expenditures, and working 2-3 part time jobs, to help pay their tuition (which would certainly attribute to the stress on academics, as you cite) but by and large, this is not the reality on college campuses.
I would disagree strongly with this. My father is a Professor as well and head of a department. Specifically one that deals in Sociology and other humanities.
Students don't party because they are care free. They get drunk for much the same reasons as any adult does. To blow off stress. Those stresses are both academic and financial. Most students are well aware of the crushing debt loads that they are going to be facing and it very much adversely effects their academic performance.
I believe you're not giving enough credit to the student body as a whole. Even many so called irresponsible high schoolers stress about college and future finances.
Just because some Uni student drunkenly says the words "I'm here to party," doesn't make it true. Also a lack of a part-time job while in Uni doesn't mean they aren't aware of finances either. That's not to say they are the best at budgeting or know exactly what a crippling debt will mean precisely but they are well aware that it'll be bad. (There is a reason that they rally and protest against tuition increases, etc... They aren't that stupid.)
I'm sure there are a few students at both ends of the spectrum but as a whole most students on Student Loan programs are worried about the future and what it means to them. They are in Uni more often then not because they see it as the only way to a future.
It's easy to tell someone that they should just go to a community college instead of Uni and train to be a skilled laborer. However, when you grow up in a house watching your parents do those kind of jobs. You see their lack of medical coverage, you see them laid up with back problems while only in their 40's or crippling arthritis in their hands from those fantastic skilled labor jobs ... What you get from that are young people that know the only way to better their lives so they don't end up like their parents is to get a Uni education. Or at least that's what they are told and that's what they try to do.
Skilled labor jobs look good on paper but in practice they are often jobs that expose their workers to toxic substances, harsh working environments, physically repetitive tasks - That eventually lead to crippling physical problems, and in the end.. the life expectancy of "skilled labor" jobs ends up being less then that of a white collar worker (with a dose of poorer quality of life to go with it.)
No... Everyone deserves a shot at a better life and Uni is the way to do that (whether in it's current form or some other way.) Not to say the other careers aren't valid or needed but people deserve the ability to choose and not just have decisions forced on them through some ridiculous academic standard (beyond what is already in place) or some stupid financial situation enforced through ridiculous loans and outrageously expensive tuition.
I don't know what I'm saying anymore... HAHA... I'm rambling but I hope some of it made sense. I'm just one of these jaded cynical people that think the gov't system, edu systems, and financial systems are all messed up and wrong.