Question Barry Politics & International Relations

US Higher Education Policy under Trump

As Donald Trump takes victory to become the 45th US president, what does this mean for higher education and fees for American students?

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Answer Expert #5515

President Elect Donald Trump has outlined his proposed policy for dealing with tuition fees for higher education and the issue of student debt. His proposal is for the institution of a “single student loan repayment plan capped at 12.5% of a borrowers’ income” (Diamond 2016), with the option for loans to be forgiven after fifteen years of making payments. While funding plans remain vain, he has stated that the federal government would lower spending on tuition fees and require colleges to use their endowments for the purposes of lowering fees or risk the tax exempt status of these endowments. He has also proposed the elimination of the Department of Education, without outlining what would become of the $28 billion it disburses to needs based Pell Grants students (Ragland and Boser (2016). His decision to replace the federal government as sole guarantor of student loans with a system of private lending, and more incentives for colleges and universities to enrol those most likely to be successful, is in keeping with his business and market oriented approach to dealing with issues. This could lead to institutions being reluctant to accept students from families that are poor, disadvantaged or from ethnic minorities, in favour of those with the most chances of success. Inasmuch as one third of all university students receive Pell Grants, this can ultimately “exacerbate the large gaps in college enrolment and degree attainment which would ultimately lead to higher rates of inequality across the country” (Heller 2016). Until these policies and their funding methods are clarified, Donald Trump’s victory presages uncertainty and a potential decrease in equal access to educational opportunities for all sections of American society.


Diamond, J. (2016) Trump Details Student Loan Policies, but doesn’t Mention Cost CNN [online] at accessed on 10 November 2016

Heller, D. E. (2016) Trump’s Proposals could Lock Poor Students out of College New Republic [online] at accessed on 10 November 2016

Ragland, W. and Boser, U. (2016) Trump’s Plan to Eliminate the Department of Education is yet Another in a List of Terrible Ideas Center for American Progress [online] at accessed on 10 November 2016