Jessica Slizewski’s father wasn’t a Wall Street banker, and her mother wasn’t an heiress. Nor did Slizewski earn a full scholarship to the school of her choice. Yet she graduated from college debt-free.

This sets her apart from the new grads who emerged from college last year carrying, on average, $29,400 in college loan debt.  You can read in Time magazine about several decisions Slizewski made that resulted in her emerging into adulthood unburdened by such debt:

 Unlike the majority of my friends who went to schools less than an hour from their parents’ homes and chose to live on campus rather than commute, my college roommates were named Mom and Dad. I chose state schools that were half, sometimes one-quarter, of the cost of the schools my friends were attending and worked a part-time on-campus scholarship job in addition to full-time hours at my retail job. I spent the four years of my life designed for partying essentially reliving my high school years. And yes, it was awful.

Imagine the stereotypical American college experience. You pick some private university in the middle of a cornfield with a tuition price of about $36,000 a year, plus room and board, party it up every night since you’ve finally escaped the teenage hellhole known as your family’s home, and stumble into your Symbolism in Harry Potter seminar at 11 a.m. still half-drunk and probably reeking of Icehouse. You join a sorority, get vomit in your hair more times than you’re willing to admit publicly, and spend half the day on whatever flavor-of-the-week social media site the guy you currently like is active on.

Sounds fun — until you realize all this will probably leave you at least $30,000 in the hole upon receiving that diploma. And guess what? Unless you absolutely needed some highly specialized major that was only offered at a few schools, chances are you probably could have gotten your education/accounting/psychology degree at a much more affordable university closer to home. You might have even been able to — gasp — live with your parents.

And eighteen-year-olds shouldn’t be making decisions that will put them seriously in hock. Slizewski writes:

I distinctly remember asking my friend how he would pay off the roughly $70,000 debt he would incur to obtain a major in Ancient Greek and Latin at a liberal arts college in the Midwest. His answer? A simple shrug and flippant “It’s not something I have to worry about right now — hopefully they’ll be forgiven by the government.” Now that he’s still waiting tables four years after graduation, I’d say it’s well past time to start worrying.

I have always been a big believer in the liberal arts education and going away to school. But, as Slizewski observes, the ordinary college experience is nowadays unaffordable for most people—unless they go seriously into debt.

President Obama misdiagnoses interest rates as the cause of intoleral levels of college loan debt and proposes for government to become ever more involved in the college loan business, thereby further distorting the marketplace further and allowing colleges to raise their tuition and board costs.

But the root of the problem is that college costs too much. This is the matter that must be addressed. Since not all young people are as mature and disciplined as Ms. Slizewski, there need to be solutions that get at the real cause of the problem. Texas Governor Rick Perry has some promising ideas on how to reduce the cost of a college degree.