Throughout Donald Trump's campaign for President of the United States, his policy proposals on extreme vetting for refugees and a wall between the U.S. and Mexico were repeatedly drilled into our heads. As college students, these specific policies don't necessarily affect all of us, but college debt most certainly does. In some debates, namely those in the Democratic primary that included Bernie Sanders, talk of the increasing college debt problem was included. But in debates solely between Trump and Clinton, talk on this topic ceased. Now that Donald Trump is in fact our new President-elect, we need to know where he stands on this issue.
Although Trump has voiced opinions on reforms for K-12 education, his ideas to mitigate the cost of college are almost non-existent. When viewing education policies Trump's website, he does vaguely mention the cost of college in the United States. He lists two bullet points:
Most college students would agree with Trump on these sentiments. Yes, the rising costs of college need to be reduced, and yes, opportunities to attend two or four-year institutions need to be improved. However, these points fail to provide any specific policy plans or references towards what Trump plans to achieve as President. In fact, one of the only times when Donald Trump addressed the student debt crisis directly was in a Q & A session on Twitter:
In the video, Trump notes, "We're going to make it possible for people to borrow money." He also says that the current college system in America is "not fair" and promises "to make it really good for the student." Yet again, no specific plans were mentioned.
Finally on October 13 of this year we heard Trump make specific policy proposals on how to solve the college debt problem, which he repeatedly calls a "crisis." The part of his speech referencing student debt is available through CSPAN:
Trump promises to introduce a cap on loan repayments at 12.5%. This might seem like a beneficial thing at first glance, but a government repayment plan for federal loans already exists, although it caps repayments at 10% of income. Thus, it is unclear whether Trump is trying to promote an increase in government loan repayment caps, or if he's wanting to regulate private loan repayments by introducing caps on those.
Even though some parts of his plans regarding college debt are unclear, Trump did comment on this speech in Ohio that he wanted loans to be forgiven after 15 years. This is earlier than the amount of time his opponent supported, as Hillary Clinton advocated for loans to be forgiven after 20 years. Trump claims that earlier loan forgiveness will benefit the average American worker.
Finally, President-elect Trump's plan for his first 100 days in office does in fact mention college affordability. Trump plans to introduce his "School Choice and Education Opportunity Act" within the first months of his presidency. The description of this legislation briefly mentions making "2 and 4-year college more affordable." Unfortunately, no specific plans are apparent in this policy reference, and it is unclear how much of this Act will be devoted to the cost of college since its main focus is K-12 education.
So, will Donald Trump be good or bad for college debt? At this point it's too early and unclear to tell, and regardless of political hypotheses and predictions, Trump will probably surprise us anyway.
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