What 350 presidents are thinking about in the week before Trump takes office

Immigrant students, Title IX regulations, and federal funding are top focus areas

Around 350 presidents of small, private colleges recently gathered for the 60th annual Council of Independent Colleges' Presidents Institute. 

One of the top issues up for discussion? President-elect Donald Trump.

Anticipating Trump's policies is somewhat challenging, as he simply hasn't revealed many hints about what he'll do in education.  As Brescia University President Rev. Larry Hostetter put it, the strategy so far seems "fairly disjointed and it comes out in 140 characters."

As presidents await the new administration, their concerns have coalesced around four primary issues:

1. Federal financial aid

Attendees discussed the ways in which financial aid policy could change if Trump goes on to scale back the federal student-loan program. He has suggested he would do this to increase private-sector lending and streamline operations at the Department of Education.

2. Undocumented immigrants on campus

 Presidents also discussed the possibility that Trump would repeal the DACA program, which protects undocumented students enrolled in school.

Leaders say they worry about legal issues surrounding undocumented students and staff, and the fact that it could be difficult to attract international student enrollment on account of Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric. 

How the new administration could affect your enrollment strategy

3. Title IX and sexual assault 

Rumors have suggested that Title IX enforcement could be dramatically cut back or even eliminated under a Trump administration. Administering Title IX on campus has become increasingly burdensome to colleges in recent years—costing millions each year, according to one analysis.

Hostetter expressed hope that the Trump administration would provide "greater clarity" on the Title IX regulations. 

4. Betsy DeVos

We also don't know a lot about how Trump's pick for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, would approach higher education. Though she has a long record of advocacy on K-12 issues, she hasn't said much yet about higher ed.

Presidents at the conference say they hope they will "have her ear." Lynchburg College President Kenneth Garren adds, "We're going to get in there very soon and talk to the new secretary of education" (Korn, Wall Street Journal, 1/8). 

Here's everything we know about Trump on higher ed so far

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