We've been spared the prohibitive costs of Hillary Clinton's "free" college, but what is the solution to skyrocketing college tuition?

Justin Dent, cofounder and executive director of GenFKD, a financial literacy and entrepreneurial organization, outlines one entrepreneurial approach in this morning's Wall Street Journal.    

Although Dent doesn't suggest that traditional colleges will vanish, he believes that (as with the news media and other businesses) there are new business models. In the new model, students focus on courses rather than what he calls "general purpose education."

He explains:

Twenty years ago if someone wanted to enroll in courses taught by the world’s experts, he went to a campus, sat in a lecture hall, took notes, and scribbled in a blue book at the end of the term. Now most of that can be done online. The number of students enrolled in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) rose to 35 million in 2015, up from around 17 million in 2014. Once these lectures are recorded and posted, the marginal cost of distribution is close to zero. Companies like Coursera offer online courses from schools like Stanford, Duke and Johns Hopkins. The institutions add a reading list to accompany the videos, and a student thousands of miles away can have a nearly identical experience as one who sat in the lecture hall.

Americans don’t expect the country’s great universities to close down their physical campuses. But the economy in which universities operate, and the world that students will enter after graduation, continues to change. Universities will have to experiment with new models for delivering education and sustaining their businesses and brace for new competition in the same way newspapers have.

Throwing more taxpayer money at increasingly expensive institutions of higher learning won’t help make higher education more relevant, flexible or in sync with current technology. The real solutions to skyrocketing tuition and debt loads are already appearing as entrepreneurs discover ways to improve higher education. Consider a few examples.

Arizona State University’s Global Freshman Academy offers MOOCs and allows students to decide after the fact whether they want to pay to get credit for the course. This empowers students to judge the value of their courses for themselves and vote with their wallets.

Dent's GenFKD is developing practical economics courses that he says are in short supply. Dent believes that we need better information on career-outcomes that compare colleges and universities to certification being developed for MOOC students.

I shudder at the idea that education, which should be civilizing and include languages and history, should be measured only in terms of job-outcomes.

On the other hand, this does have some promising ideas on how to prepare young people for the future without saddling them with crippling debt.