I think it's less on the institution of college that ppl are arguing for and against, but rather a good,
college level education.
You can get college level education by being mentored in higher education without going to college, either by luck or other circumstances. Or maybe you land a solid entry level job right out high school where they're nice enough to teach you what college teaches you, anyway.
However. Actually attending and getting a degree, I feel, aren't mean to be free
because it's a service provided by paid professionals. So I agree with you.
Tldr; my opinion:
Good college level education should be as cheap and as accessible as possible to as many people as possible.
But attending a dedicated 1 to 4 years of intense academic experience should have an entry barrier: to ensure commitment
from the student. Ideally the entry barrier isn't money
tho but rather some measure of preparedness.