Now that Donald Trump is the President-elect, many people are interested to know how he plans to run the country. In the past few weeks, details have emerged about his intended policies. If you are a student, you may especially be interested in Mr. Trump’s policies for education. How will this election affect your future as a student? What can you expect over the next four years?
Here is a list of education policies and facts you need to know as a college student:
1) Donald Trump Sought Higher Education Himself.
Mr. Trump’s own education can perhaps offer insight into some of his views on schooling. Born in Queens, New York in 1946 to Frederick C. Trump and Mary MacLeod Trump, Donald Trump first attended Kew-Forest School, a private preparatory school. After seventh grade, his parents were worried about his behavior and transferred their son to New York Military Academy, a private boarding school.
After exclusive private schools, Donald Trump started his college career at Fordham University in the Bronx. He would also study at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania — which is considered one of the Ivy Leagues and has been ranked among the best business schools in the country.
Supporters of Mr. Trump note he clearly believes in a strong education, as he has attended college himself, and his children have also sought higher education. Critics have noted that Trump University, the for-profit educational institution which bore his name from 2005 to 2010 was sued by former students who alleged, among other things, that the quality of education was poor. Mr. Trump has denied these claims.
2) Mr. Trump Has Stated He Wants to Reduce the Cost of Higher Education.
In speeches, Mr. Trump has blamed high college expenses on administrative costs and has suggested cutting some regulation, although he has not specified which regulations he might slash. It has been speculated that Mr. Trump may cut back on enforcement under Title IX, the federal gender equity rule used in campus sexual assault claims.
If Mr. Trump makes cuts to the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, it would place a bigger emphasis on colleges to police campuses and to address sexual assault charges. The Office for Civil Rights also gives parents and students a place to turn if they fear discrimination or violation of civil rights for any reason. The office further investigates whether schools follow federal rules for ensuring discrimination does not take place in schools though school policies.
Mr. Trump has not specifically stated he would make cuts to the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights or to Title IX enforcement, however.
One way Mr. Trump has said he would make education more affordable is by mandating universities to spend more endowment dollars on tuition assistance rather than on investment. In 2016, university endowments across the country amounted to over $500 billion, and Mr. Trump alleged some university spend more of their endowment for advisors to manage the money than they invest in students. Critics, however, have pointed out that colleges with large endowments already offer significant tuition aid while most have significantly smaller endowments — meaning less tuition assistance is possible even if less were spent on administration.
In addition, Mr. Trump has stated university endowments should not be tax exempt. It’s unclear, though, how removing some endowment money for taxes would ensure more of that endowment money was spent on students.
3) Donald Trump Has Stated He Wants to Improve Schools.
Just as Mr. Trump has stated he wants to “Make America Great Again,” he has stated he wants to improve the quality of education across the country. He has been most detailed about his plans for improving elementary and high school education. Donald Trump has unveiled a proposed $20 billion block grant to use current federal money to support school choice programs. Mr. Trump has envisioned a school system where each student can secure vouchers to traditional public schools, private schools, magnet schools, and charter schools. The idea, according to Republican supporters, is to create a school marketplace where schools compete for students and are highly motivated to offer the best educational experience.
Critics have noted some charter schools do not perform well, and students do not always get their first choice of charter school. It is feasible that in a marketplace, students would still be competing for the most in-demand schools and not every student would get to attend the school of their choice.
Obviously, quality high school education can impact educational opportunities at the college level as students start to apply for undergraduate degrees. However, what plans does Mr. Trump have to improve the quality of college education? Mr. Trump has spoken extensively about his plans to reduce student debts and the cost of higher education, but he has not yet specified any policies for improving college quality.
4) Mr. Trump Has Stated He Wishes to Address Student Debt.
Although Mr. Trump comes from an affluent background and eventually launched his own successful real estate company — meaning he has never had to worry about paying back college loans — he has expressed interest in helping college students with debt load.
In October 2016 in Columbus, Ohio, Mr. Trump suggested a program whereby students who have graduated and are entering the workforce would pay 12.5% of their work income annually for a period of 15 years, at which point their loans would be forgiven. There is currently a program which requires graduating students to pay 10% of their income each year over 20 years to secure debt forgiveness.
Advocates of this education policy note Mr. Trump’s plan would help students avoid long-term debt, especially in cases where they pursue advanced degrees and take on more loans. Critics, however, have noted that plan would cost the government substantial amounts of money. Some critics, including Rohit Chopra, former adviser to John B. King Jr., have argued the high cost would mean such a measure would be unlikely to be passed.
5) He’s Stated Transgendered Students Should Be Allowed to Choose Which Bathroom They Use.
In speaking about the rights of transgendered students and people to use bathrooms, Mr. Trump has stated transgendered people should use the bathroom they wish to use. This is against traditional Republican policy, which has spoken against the right of transgendered people to use the washrooms and changing rooms of their choice.
In a different interview, however, Mr. Trump has also stated the issue of transgender washrooms and change rooms is a matter best left to local and state governments.
6) Mr. Trump May Reduce the Role of the U.S. Department of Education.
In interviews, Donald Trump has stated he would significantly cut the Department of Education or dismantle it. In addition, there has been some speculation Mr. Trump’s administration could rescind the 2014 guidance of the Education Department. This guidance tells districts how to use school resource officers, or police officers assigned to schools, in an efficient manner that does not discriminate against students based on race.
Some have also speculated there may be less oversight of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which attempts to offer additional funding for schools with low-income students. While Mr. Trump has not confirmed or denied these two types of speculation, there has been a general consensus in his speeches that the future President wants to see less federal involvement in local schools.
7) Mr. Trump supports comprehensive education.
In a 2010 article, Donald Trump explained why he is against too much specialization in education: “Comprehensive education dissolves the lines between knowing too much and knowing too little on a variety of subjects — subjects that are necessary for success.”
Repeatedly, Mr. Trump has stated America must do better than a larger number of countries and must teach its students how to be good citizens rather than just rewarding effort without results. He has spoken out against the Common Core and against “dumbing down” subjects.
8) Donald Trump Wants to Link College Performance and College Funding.
Mr. Trump has stated he will seek reforms in Congress to ensure colleges receive federal tax breaks and funding only if they can show they are making a good effort to reduce student loan burden and student costs for their own students.
9) Mr. Trump Has Selected Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education.
The philanthropist has publicly supported for-profit schools, school choice programs, private school vouchers and virtual charter schools. Critics, however, have noted that Ms. DeVos has never led a school district or state school department.
10) Donald Trump Supports Vocational Education.
Mr. Trump has stated that in his first one hundred days in office he will “expand vocational and technical education.” Ms. DeVos, selected by Donald Trump as Secretary of education, may also support technical education since her husband has founded a charter school focused on the aviation industry sector.
Since Mr. Trump has also campaigned heavily on the premise of returning manufacturing jobs to the nation, expanding technical education to improve the employability of the workforce in these industries. Although Mr. Trump has not provided specific suggestions for how he might bolster technical and vocational education, it is possible some support would be available for technical degree and certificate programs at the higher education level.
The Perkins Act, which provides more than $1 billion each year to technical and career programs is due to be reauthorized soon, and both Republican and Democrat legislators support the measure.
11) Mr. Trump May Support For-Profit Education.
Donald Trump has founded his own for-profit school educational institution, Trump University. In addition, the voucher program for school choice could be accepted by for-profit schools as tuition.
When speaking of education, Mr. Trump has expressed interest in improving competition among schools to encourage them to excel, and it is conceivable he would create more relaxed policies around for-profit colleges — unlike President Obama, who tried to crack down on predatory for-profit colleges. It is possible that under a Trump administration, for-profit colleges would be able to secure access to federal money.
12) Donald Trump’s Views on Immigration Could Impact College Students.
Mr. Trump famously ran on a campaign centered around the idea of deporting illegal immigrants, reducing some immigrants flowing into the country and building a wall on the United States border to prevent people from Mexico from entering the country. Mr. Trump has also stated he feels colleges are too “politically correct.”
Despite moves to allow undocumented students to attend college in recent years and to qualify for scholarships and funding, there is a concern Mr. Trump’s views could impact immigrant students on campus. Some students who are in the country illegally might be deported from the country. In addition, if Mr. Trump does tighten regulations about immigration, students who currently qualify for scholarships despite their undocumented status may have a harder time attending and paying for higher education. However, Donald Trump has stopped short of saying he would remove scholarship money from undocumented students.
Exchange students and international students studying at American colleges may be affected as well. Mr. Trump has spoken about reducing immigration or tightening rules on immigration for individuals who come from certain parts of the world. Students from these affected countries may have less access to American schools if Mr. Trump follows through with his policies. It is also possible affirmative-action policies could be reduced on college campuses, especially since Betsy DeVos, chosen by Mr. Trump for Secretary of Education, has with her husband supported anti-affirmative-action programs in the past.
13) Donald Trump Is in Favor of Privatizing Student Loans.
Mr. Trump has decried the idea the federal government makes a profit offering loans to college students. He has suggested credit unions, banks and other financial intuitions would be better options for offering student loans. It is unclear whether this would help students, since private companies tend to charge more for student loans.
14) Donald Trump Might Link Repayment Rates With College Funding.
It has been suggested colleges under the new administration may be given penalties if a significant portion of their students default or may be given incentives if students pay off their loans on time. Currently, colleges only face losing access to federal funding if over 30% of their students within three years default on their loans.
It has also been suggested student loans may have different interest rates, depending on how likely a student is to repay their loan, much like current private loans from banks base interest rate on creditworthiness. Currently, all federal loans are offered at the same rate.
More information about the new administration’s policies in education will likely emerge as inauguration day draws nearer. No matter what specific education policies Mr. Trump adopts, so far it is clear he believes strongly in an educational marketplace for elementary and high school students as well as less federal involvement in the classroom. At the college level, Mr. Trump has expressed an interest in reducing student debt and improving the affordability of higher education.
At Vista College, we remain committed to providing a quality education and full support for students, in the current administration and beyond. If you have questions about how new educational policies might impact your college education, Vista College has created a summary of educational policies and college-related policies. Review these resources if you’d like more information about how the next four years might impact your education goals.