The Candidates’ Positions on Higher-Ed Issues

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administration (NASFAA) is maintaining a list of positions on higher-education issues taken by all of the presidential candidates in this election cycle, including those who have suspended their campaigns.

The list, which seems to be updated regularly, is available here.

Even a cursory glance through the list will convey the contrast between the detailed positions on a variety of higher-ed issues taken by the two remaining Democratic candidates and the seemingly scant attention to or at least emphasis on higher-ed issues by three of the four remaining Republican candidates—Marco Rubio being the one considerable exception.

For instance, notice the difference in the sections on Hillary Clinton and on Donald Trump.

Hillary Clinton:

On college cost: During her campaign kick-off speech in June, Clinton hinted that she would work to expand college access and affordability. “Let’s make college affordable and available to all … and lift the crushing burden of student debt,” she said. Clinton has also said she wants to make college “as debt-free as possible,” although she has not yet released a plan for debt-free college, and included proposals to do so in her $350 billion college affordability plan, dubbed the New College Compact. Clinton in part pins the rising cost of college on state divestment from higher education, and gives states and schools an incentive to improve by making them eligible for federal grants that ensure no student has to take out loans to pay for tuition at four-year public colleges and universities. [Updated 8/12/15]

On student loans: In July, Clinton hosted a Facebook Q&A, during which she answered questions from journalists and voters. During the session, Clinton promised to prioritize student loan debt, according to MSNBC. “I’ll be putting forward specific proposals to refinance debt so it becomes more affordable, encourage more people to use income contingency repayment program so you are paying back as a percentage of what you actually earn, to try to make college more affordable to start with so that students today and tomorrow don’t end up with the amount of debt you and 40 million other Americans currently have,” Clinton said. “This is one of my biggest economic and educational priorities and I will be addressing it from the first day I become president.”

Clinton’s New College Compact also included provisions around student loans. She proposed cutting loan interest rates, making loan refinancing an option, and creating a single income-based repayment option for borrowers, that would be capped at 20 years (rather than 25) and would allow borrowers to choose to have their payments deducted from their paychecks. “Students should never have to take out a loan to pay for tuition at their state’s public university,” Clinton wrote. “We’ll make sure the federal government and the states step up to help pay the cost, so the burden doesn’t fall on families alone.” [Updated 8/12/15]

On free community college: Clinton has said she supports President Barack Obama’s plan for two years of tuition-free community college.

Donald Trump:

On student loans: In an interview with The Hill, Trump questioned why the government profits off of student loans, and said he could help students struggling with debt. “That’s probably one of the only things the government shouldn’t make money off – I think it’s terrible that one of the only profit centers we have is student loans,” Trump said.

On international students: Trump, who has in the past suggested building a wall on the border between the United States and Mexico, in August said in a tweet that foreign students who attend colleges and universities in the United States and wish to stay after graduating should not be deported, according to Inside Higher Ed. “I want talented people to come into this country — to work hard and to become citizens. Silicon Valley needs engineers, etc.,”Trump said in a tweet[Updated 9/16/15]

Earlier in the campaign cycle I posted the answers given by Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to a questionnaire sent to them by the AFT. I believe that the questionnaire was also sent to all of the Republican candidates but that none of them chose to respond.



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