Was this a (i) public school (eg: state university, etc), (ii) a private college/university (eg: Harvard, Yale, et al), or a "for profit" mill such as University of Phoenix, DeVry University, Trump University, Argosy University, etc.?
The first two types don't have much of a vested interest in flogging college loans, the third type pretty much has a business model of getting students into programs, using loans of all stripes, programs that the students may not be qualified for or truly able to be successful in, or that will actually result in an economic pay-off for them.
This third type of school has really become "big business" in the past 20 years. Many such schools have run afoul of authorities over the years for some type of "racketeering"...in academics or in the financial end. It's reported fairly regularly in the press.
Maybe you went to a legitimate public or private college and were simply swept up in the enthusiasm of the admissions office. Or maybe you were truly victimized as easy pickins' by an unscrupulous for-profit university. I don't know (but would be interested).
I also went back to college at a "late age" (so I thought then). After fits and starts, I went full time for a couple years and graduated with my BS and MS in Engineering when I was 31. The MS was strictly for my own self-satisfaction; it likely paid few career dividends. I was fortunate and did not have to take out loans; I do realize that many or most people might not have had the support that I did.
But the economics of "going back to college" has long been of interest to me. In the economic upsets of the 1980s and 1990s (Japan, etc, eating the lunch of our US manufacturing sector. etc.) many people tried to gain more education. Some could handle, many could not (poor high schools I imagine). Many of these people were sold a bill of goods too by the for-profit colleges.
For many people a better solution is an economical two year community college and their vocational programs. Very low financial cost and quick entry into some remunerative job. Not everyone needs to have a B.A. in something. And I don't want to be dismissive of the "somethings", I myself love to study literature, history, all the humanities, but unfortunately there are few jobs in such fields that pay a living wage. Thus it is up to every individual student (and their parents sometimes) to balance out the cost-benefit equation of what they want to do. I have seen some be very successful taking such risks, but I've probably seen more people burn out, be unsuccessful, and left with a huge debt. You really have to know yourself, and take a good hard look at what the expected returns may be.