Also, what if you don't want just "the new replacement for a high school degree"? My point exactly: why should you have to shoot for a lower degree because you're poor?
(1) Ability to pay is ignored during admissions...
(2) ... but ability to pay totally determines what you'll be asked to pay.
For those who get admitted and are poor, it's an extraordinarily good deal. I'm still not seeing where (or if) we're disagreeing.
In many European countries, there is an aggressive policy of equalizing all education opportunity, from kindergarten to the Ph.D. level.