I was just browsing nyt.com and noticed a story on law school debt and wondered:
perhaps the answer to education expense is for students to seek experience (internship/work) instead of classes while universities become strictly research/archivist in nature.
Someone interested in a field could investigate information about careers, but their most direct education about them would be via experience. As they gained experience, the additional knowledge they would find out they need for a given position they could search for themselves at a college/university/library.
Universities cook of then concentrate on new research rather than mass education which is largely ineffective as vocational training.
Teachers in this environment would exist mostly to convey learning/research skills (rather than teaching how to pass tests).
Professors & research assistants would basically only be available to those already actively involved in a field or on a research track. The student would then be responsible only for the amount of the resources they used with a standard, perhaps monthly fee for gent real access to facilities (in this case mostly libraries).
Degrees are reserved strictly for those on research tracks.
For the practical/vocational student, the "diploma" is a robust and dynamic résumé.
The student body diversifies and continued education becomes the norm instead of a conference of unemployment.
Pure hypothesis, mind you.