What the presidential race means for higher education so far

Four presidential candidates and their views on college issues

So far, four politicians have announced they are running for president of the United States. The Chronicle of Higher Education's Kelly Field examined each candidate's views on college affordability, immigration, and science.

Hillary Clinton (D)

Higher education affordability

  • Vowed to increase the maximum Pell Grant, double the central education tax credit, and create additional college and job training grants when running for president in 2008.
  • Pledged more transparency around higher education costs and graduation rates in 2008 and proposed a "cost calculator" similar to one the Department of Education has since created.
  • Served on the Senate education committee for eight years, and pieces of her Borrower Bill of Rights and Nontraditional Student Success Act made it into law.
  • Endorsed American's College Promise and income-based student loan repayments.
  • Has criticized for-profit institutions.

Immigration policy

  • As secretary of state, lifted restrictions on academic travel to Cuba, gave visas to barred scholars, and pushed efforts to double the number of U.S. citizens studying in China and increase student exchanges with Indonesia, the Caribbean, Latin America, and India.
  • In the Senate, co-sponsored versions of the Dream Act and voted in favor of comprehensive immigration reform.

Science support

  • Most scientists see Clinton as a friend to the discipline, according to The Chronicle.
  • Believes in human-caused climate change.
  • Supported energy and environmental bills during her time on the Senate Committee of Environment and Public Works.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)

Higher education affordability

  • During his 2012 Senate campaign, said he wanted to dissolve the Department of Education and instead give student financial aid money directly to state governments, which could then dole out the funds.

Immigration policy

Science support

  • Does not believe in climate change. (According to The Chronicle, many scientists were "positively horrified" when Cruz became chair of the panel that oversees the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, an agency key to climate change study.)

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky)

Higher education affordability

  • Supports eliminating the Department of Education.
  • Wants to replace America's College Promise with entirely tax-deductible college tuition.

Immigration policy

  • Supports ending Obama's Delayed Action for Childhood arrivals program, but also that he is open to alternatives including expanded work visas.

Science support

Has called out the National Science Foundation for what he considers wasteful spending, but says he is not attacking science—but rather ensuring tax money is used well.

Sen. Mark Rubio (R-Florida)

Higher education affordability

  • Supports a "unit record" database to track students' labor-market outcomes.
  • Has supported bipartisan bills to create online college-savings accounts that would track students' savings and academic progress from elementary schools through college.
  • Introduced legislation for income-share agreements in place of normal loans.
  • Supports standardizing student-aid award letters.
  • Pushed to increase student-aid for competency-based courses.

Immigration policy

  • Has pushed to award more green cards to foreign graduates of U.S. colleges and for a faster citizenship route for so-called Dreamers, or young adults who were brought to the United State illegally as children.

Science support

  • Expressed skepticism of climate change. (According to The Chronicle, Rubio's appointment as chair of the Senate subcommittee overseeing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—one of the agencies that operates the satellites supplying data for the study of climate change—reportedly worried scientists) (Field, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 4/16).

The takeaway: The Chronicle of Education reviews four presidential candidates' views on college affordability, support for science, and immigration reform.


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