Here's another perspective on the value of $30,000. Bear in mind this is not adjusted for inflation so take it with a grain of salt.
$30,000 invested at a conservative 10% rate in the stock market will double every 7.2 years. This will grow to $960,000 in 36 years. Assuming you invested it at age 20, you would probably be almost a millionaire at 56. (where was financial planning when we were young?) Wait till you're 63 and you're up almost 2 million!
If you had gone to culinary school at the age of 20 and come out 30k in debt, and it took you seven years to pay off your debt, AND, you made a one time investment of 30k in the stock market at the age of 27, you would be down $480,000 at age 56, almost a million at 63. If you had worked 43 years, you would have had to make $45,714 a year to reach that goal. Imagine THAT! If you spend it all like most of us do, you'd still be in the hole when it comes time to put away your knives.
Most couselors talk about how much money one can make right out of culinary school. They fail to teach the student about financial basics such as investing and managing their money. I didn't learn about this till I was 29 and thank goodness I did. I really advocate financial planning as a supplement to ordinary student counselling.
Personally, I wouldn't pay that much for an education unless I happen to be in medical school. Even Doctors and Lawyers find it hard the first few years out of school. I personally know a few recent culinary school grads who will never, ever, get ahead of the pack due to their enormous debt burden and lack of financial know how.