How Donald Trump might approach higher ed as president

He wants the federal government to play a smaller role

Julia Haskins, Staff Writer


Julia Haskins, staff writer

While he has been extremely vocal about foreign policy, religion, and terrorism, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has yet to detail a comprehensive higher education platform. However, the outspoken nominee has offered a few clues about how he would approach higher ed if he were elected president. Here's what we know about Trump's views ahead of the Republican National Convention:

He would significantly cut the Education Department

Trump is no fan of the Education Department. At a South Carolina tea party convention in 2015, Trump said he would cut the Education Department "way, way, way down." That aligns with his goal of taking on a "tremendous cutting" of the federal government generally. Trump is largely opposed to the agency because of what he perceives as federal overreach, arguing that "education should be local and locally managed."

He supports for-profit colleges (at least his own)

Trump hasn't said much specifically about for-profit colleges, but having operated one of his own, he is likely a proponent of the institutions. He continues to defend Trump University as a legitimate education venture in the midst of growing scrutiny and several lawsuits.

The inside story on Trump University

He would overhaul the student loan system

The student loan system would look very different under a Trump presidency, according to Sam Clovis, national co-chair and policy director of Trump's campaign. In an interview with Inside Higher Ed, Clovis said Trump believes all schools should share the risk of student loans, including institutions that serve disproportionate shares of low-income students. Trump also supports colleges taking students' majors into account when determining loan eligibility. He favors restricting the ability for students at less competitive institutions who major in the liberal arts to obtain student loans.

Reducing student loan cohort default rates

In addition, Trump would reject both President Obama's plan for a state-federal partnership to make community college free, as well as presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's proposal for debt-free college education.

He wants to bring in more international students

In a tweet last summer, Trump said, "When foreigners attend our great colleges & want to stay in the U.S., they should not be thrown out of our country." He later followed up with a second message that read, "I want talented people to come into this country—to work hard and to become citizens. Silicon Valley needs engineers, etc."

However, that sentiment counters Trump's proposal to temporarily prohibit Muslims who are not U.S. citizens from entering the country—a plan that has troubled many Muslim college students.

He opposes gun-free zones

No stranger to controversy, Trump has taken a stance on one of the most heated debates related to campus safety. At a January campaign rally in Vermont, Trump said he would eliminate gun-free zones his "first day" in office.

How campus carry is changing classroom climates

"You know what a gun-free zone is to a sicko? That's bait," he told the rally audience. The discussion about gun-free zones has resurfaced as several states consider or plan to enact campus carry policies. Texas' campus carry law will take effect Aug. 1.


  • Manage Your Events
  • Saved webpages and searches
  • Manage your subscriptions
  • Update personal information
  • Invite a colleague