What Your Vote Could Mean for Higher Education

1. Loans and Debt

Hillary Clinton has plans to make debt-free college available to all Americans and has a vision for taking on student loan debt.  On her website, she outlines a plan for students of families who make less than $125,000 per year.  She says that by 2021, those families will pay no tuition at in-state four-year schools.  She also says that every student from a family making $85,000 or less will be able to go to an in-state four-year public university without paying tuition.  In Clinton’s New College Compact, she argues for free tuition at all community colleges.  Clinton will also start a $25 billion fund to support historically black colleges and universities, in addition to largely Hispanic-serving institutions and other minority-serving institutions.

Clinton also plans to offer a 3-month moratorium on student loan payments to all federal loan borrowers so that students can consolidate their loans, sign up for repayment programs, and figure out how to pay their monthly interest and fees.  She says that borrowers will be able to refinance loans at current rates and make it impossible for the federal government to profit from college student debt.  She claims that she will “crack down” on predatory schools, lenders, and bill collectors.

Donald Trump states that he’s “a tremendous believer in higher education” and wants to prioritize higher education opportunities for Americans. On his website, he says that he wants to “ensure that the opportunity to attend a two or four-year college, or to pursue a trade or a skill set through vocational and technical education, will be easier to access, pay for, and finish.”  He also says that he would fight proposals for debt-free and tuition-free public higher education.  He claims that he wants to move the government out of lending and restore that role to private banks. Trump argues that “local banks” should support “local students.”

Trump would also “consider” cutting the US Department of Education—and all of the services it provides.  While this affects many PreK-12 initiatives, it would also presumably affect the $29 billion in federal Pell Grants that help low-income students pay for college.  Trump’s party outlines its stance on higher education on pages 35-36 in its Republican Platform 2016 document.

 

 

2. STEM

Clinton’s technology plan will make an impact on both American and international students. Clinton’s College Compact will dedicate $10 billion in federal funding to allow students to participate in computer science and STEM programs, nanodegrees, computer coding, online learning, and other 21st century initiatives.  She will establish incentives for colleges and universities that will accept alternative learning programs as credits towards a degree.

Clinton will allow potential entrepreneurs in the tech sector to defer their student loan debt for up to three years while they start their own businesses.  She also proposes to offer loan forgiveness of up to $17,500 in student loan debt after five years for entrepreneurs working in distressed areas for the social good.

Trump also supports STEM initiatives for American graduates. On his website, he specifically states that a strong space program could encourage American children to pursue STEM in higher education, which would bring millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in investment to the country.

 

International Students

 

1. Visas

Clinton supports start-up visas, which would encourage international entrepreneurs to build their companies here—of course with some financial commitment from US investors.  She has specific incentives for attracting and retaining “top talent” from around the world who want to work in science and technology research and development.

Trump also has a stance on visas.  He wants to replace the J-1 visa with a program for inner city youth.  The J-1 visa currently­­ allows international students to work, study, and live in the US for a set amount of time.  If there’s no J-1 visa option for international students, American companies will not be able to hire international students.  Options for studying in an exchange program at a US school, working for a summer camp, au pairing, and interning would either be impossible or severely limited.

He also wants to impose restrictions on the H-1B visa, which is a permit that allows US employers to hire international professionals, so if you’re an international student who wants to stay in the US, or you recently graduated and want to work in the US, your chances of finding a job might be more difficult.

 

2. Immigration

Clinton’s policies support international students coming to the US to study and contribute to the global economy.  She says, in her campaign’s words, that she would “staple a green card to STEM masters and Ph.D. [students] from accredited institutions.”  This would allow international students who complete degrees in these fields to earn green cards.

Trump has a different view.  According to his website, he will “select immigrants based on their likelihood of success in the U.S. and their ability to be self-sufficient.”  He also wants to participate in “extreme vetting” and proposes to “temporarily suspend immigration from regions that export terrorism and where safe vetting cannot presently be ensured.”