Last week Donald Trump, the presumptive presidential nominee for the Republican party, came out with some policy proposals for higher education and student loan reform. The campaign has indicated that these are somewhat informal policy ideas, rather than concrete proposals (which will be unveiled at an unspecified later date). Nevertheless, perhaps unsurprisingly, there have been some strong reactions. Here’s an overview.
- Trump unequivocally opposes proposals for free public higher education put forth by Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
- He opposes President Obama’s calls for a state-federal partnership to make community college free.
- He wants to eliminate the federal Direct lending program, whereby the U.S. Dept. of Education originates most new federal student loans, and seeks to re-establish private banks and commercial lenders as loan originators. Private lending for federally-guaranteed loans was reduced under President Bill Clinton and eliminated entirely by President Obama in 2010.
- Trump wants to have colleges and universities take on more of the financial risk of student lending. There are few specifics, though, on how he would do this.
- Trump wants to discourage borrowing by liberal arts majors except at the most prestigious institutions. It’s unclear exactly how he would implement this, but presumably financial aid would be restricted to borrowers who have a liberal arts major. Says one of Trump’s policy advisors, “If you are going to study 16th-century French art, more power to you. I support the arts… But you are not going to get a job.”
- He hasn’t provided too much policy-wise in terms of specific ideas about for-profit schools, although he certainly has a softer tone than the Obama administration has taken.
Some of these issues are polarizing no matter what side of the aisle you are on – free public higher education, for instance, has strong proponents and opponents. Other reform proposals, such as forcing colleges and universities to have “more skin in the game” and take on more of the financial risks of borrowing, already have fairly bipartisan support, but there is widespread disagreement on specific approaches; Trump has not provided clear policy solutions to address this. Meanwhile, some of his other reform proposals, such as re-privatizing the federal student loan system and restricting financing options to students based on their major or academic program, are already encountering some strong resistance.
What’s clear is that there are already stark differences between the major presidential campaigns on what student loan reform needs to look like. There is no doubt that this election will be one of the most consequential for student loan borrowers.
Source: Inside Higher Ed