After reading a number of research posts, I concluded that there are two major problems with the higher education system right now. One is that there exist people with great potential that will never see that potential realized because they don't have any means of paying the money it takes to get moving. Two is that college costs too much money in the first place.
Essentially the money possessed by the prospective students is lesser than the money required by colleges around the US.
This idea seeks to close this gap from both ends. So starting with the student end, how can we give students more money? Scholarships are limited, so while this is an existing solution that works for some, the majority will remain unable to attend college. Paid co-ops and internships, and tuition reimbursement are also possibilities, but these are limited to those with the college experience and credibility to get the job initially.
On the college end, how can costs be reduced? Online courses present an interesting option; most on-campus colleges' tuition is loaded down with costs relating to facilities unrelated to education at all. But right now online colleges lack the legitimacy of a campus university, and some of what those physical colleges offer can't be replicated online.
The solution that seems to best solve these problems all at once is this: create a program that pairs students with employers, and provides in-class education to those students only in areas that both the employer and student deem appropriate. The employee works for the employer as a part-time student or as part of a co-op program. In this way, the "cost of college" can be significantly reduced while still maintaining legitimacy. And the student can receive necessary funding while the employer benefits from cost-effective skilled labor.
The most effective way to start a program of this nature is most likely going to require close collaboration with a successful company. The legitimacy of the program hinges on the educators that can be obtained. Once implemented, the cost structure should be much more efficient than the average college, but the initial costs would be relatively high.