Uh, it's hardly $160k or $40k, and it's not like anybody is forcing you to take $200k in loans.
Say you're an English major at UGA looking at UGA law. Out of school, your prospects are like $35k. Resident COA at UGA is $23k/year. You graduate with $70k, $100k including interest. Tack on another $20k for money you could've saved in the meantime. Total cost = $120k. Now, say you get a $50k/year job in Macon or Savannah or Atlanta. Further assume that you're looking at 4% average annual salary growth. Using those numbers, you'll break even on your 7th year. At this point, you'll be in your early 30s, and still have 30 years of your career ahead of you. Within 10 years, you'll be $60k ahead.
In terms of lifestyle, your take-home income will be about $3000/month. Your loan payment will be $850/month. Rent in a nice place in Buckhead is $1200/month. Say $150 for utilities, $400 for car payment (buy used!), $250 for food, you'll have about $150/month in your pocket. Certainly a bit tight for the first few years (until the car is paid off), but not bad at all!