As a matter of fact, all craft educations (carpenters, blacksmiths, hair dressers, culinary chefs etc.) in Denmark are build around the students having to be an apprentice for several months during their education. Why couldn't university students do the same? The employer of the apprentice pays for his/her education while the apprentice spends months working for the employer for a way lower salary than when graduated. The government pays a part of the apprentice's education though.
Living in Copenhagen, Denmark, and currently doing my Masters in Organizational Innovation and Entrepreneurship (4th best entrepreneur program in the world!) at Copenhagen Business School, and having done my undergraduate at CBS as well for free, I see it as a matter of perception.
I just lied to you all.
Let me explain. Elementary school, High School and University is NOT free in Denmark. We pay a lot of taxes, and the average American would most likely call our nation socialist. Well, we kind of are, and that's a good thing. Socialism is taking care of each other i.e. the rich helps the poor... The more you earn, the more you pay in taxes. What is interesting is, that Denmark is one the least corrupt nations in the world, as well as one of the countries favored by companies to set up shop. Why? Because the poor aren't poor here. Certainly there are people living on the streets and all, though they can and get help when needed.
My point being, paying a high tax percentage is a positive, since it actually works in favor of a capitalist market, since businesses within the capitalist system thrive more when its surrounding society is thriving.
No, I have not payed tuition for my education. No, I have never paid a singe dollar for going to the hospital. And then yes, actually I have, since I have a part time job on the side of my studies, since I want to be able to live a life that I want while studying (and also travel sometimes), and I pay approx. 45% tax of what I earn working that part time job. But I'm happy, because I know that's what funding my education, just as well as I will be happy when I have spent somewhat 50 years working and paying taxes when I graduate, knowing that I'm paying back somewhat 20 years of "free" education, and also knowing that I'm contributing to my future children's education.
I think countries without "free" education is underestimating the value of the resources an educated population gives back to society. Danish university students even get a student grant each month from the government. Yes, you read it correctly. We get around $750 per month from the Danish Government just for attending university! Obscure you think? Well, actually it's not. Many years ago our government realized the high value of having an educated population, and as a result we - as a country - earn our living by creating and selling knowledge at large. This may not be the answer to a country of the size as USA. And then again, why not?