5 predictions: How Trump's administration could change higher ed

Endowments may be under threat

Looking ahead to the Trump administration, experts predict five changes facing higher education. 

1: Budget cuts

According to Jennifer Poulakidas, the vice president for congressional and governmental affairs at the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, the budget caps for the 2018 fiscal year are lower than they are for the 2017 fiscal year. Poulakidas says this means less government money could be directed to higher education.

Under the Obama administration, Congress had a veto threat that kept budget cuts balanced, Poulakidas explains. She predicts the Trump administration might not use the veto threat in the same way to encourage balanced budget cuts.

With these budget changes comes the possibility that year-round Pell grants may not return, and that the government may not boost funding for the National Institutes of Health the way many hoped it would. 

Don't panic. Here's how to respond to budget cuts

2: Endowments under threat

Congress plans to focus on tax reform in 2017, which will have implications for charitable giving and endowments, predicts Brian Flahaven, the director of legislative, foundation, and recognition programs for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Charitable deduction codes will likely move away from itemized deductions, he believes, and replace them by raising the standard deduction threshold. This could discourage alumni giving and philanthropy.

Endowments also face uncertainty, Flahaven proposes, considering the scrutiny they've faced from Congress members and President-elect Donald Trump

3: Accreditation updates

Educational accreditation has already been a major focus for Congress, and Jim Hermes, the vice president of government relations for the American Association of Community Colleges, says it will continue to be under the new administration.

Hermes says both Democrats and Republicans view accreditation reform as a priority, and could even more likely to get attention when lawmakers turn their attention to reauthorizing the higher education act.  

Expert says accreditation reform could help competency-based programs succeed

4: Uncertain future for DACA

Michael Zola, the vice president of government relations and policy analysis at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, says the DACA program could be immediately repealed when Trump takes office, since Obama issued it as an executive action.

Administrators and students nationwide are worried about how a DACA repeal would affect undocumented students enrolled in colleges and universities. 

A DACA repeal could impact your enrollment strategy

Zola offers some solace in his assurance that any deportation efforts to come will be extremely slow to materialize, since immigration courts are already backed up.

Other education-related executive actions Zola says may be repealed include:

  • The new overtime rule;
  • Many Title IX regulations; and
  • The new Education Department teacher regulations.

5: Greater focus on science and innovation

Since President-elect Trump is highly focused on growing jobs and the economy, Poulakidas says that higher education will need to "meet the guy where he is" by demonstrating that education is as necessary as ever.

To do so, he says institutions will need to make greater investments in:

  • Science;
  • Research; and
  • Innovation.

(Arnett, Education Dive, 12/1).

Everything you need to know about Trump on higher ed

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