Presidential candidates weigh in on higher ed

By Walter G. Bumphus

On Election Day, take one last look at the candidates’ views on higher education.

Over the past eight years, community colleges have had a seat at the table and have played a prominent role in several programs implemented by the Obama administration. Today’s election marks a significant change in the political landscape.

Both presidential candidates have higher education proposals.

Hillary Clinton’s plan

Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s “New College Compact” proposal promises Costs won’t be a barrier. Debt won’t hold you back.” Under Clinton’s plan, students at community college will receive free tuition. It’s not completely free, though: students will contribute their earnings from working 10 hours a week. There will be more grants to states and colleges so students at public colleges and universities won’t have to take out loans for tuition.

Also included in the plan: students from families making $85,000 a year or less will be able to go to an in-state four-year public college or university without paying tuition. Investments will be made in private, non-profit institutions that serve low- and middle-income students.

Clinton’s plan also would restore year-round Pell grants.

Donald Trump’s plan

Republican candidate Donald Trump would fight plans for debt-free public higher education and tuition-free public higher education, Sam Clovis, the national co-chair and policy director of Trump’s campaign, said in an Inside Higher Ed article.

Trump also would move the government out of lending and restore that role to private banks. An income-contingent repayment plan would be implemented, capping payments at 12 percent of the borrower’s income. The remaining debt would be cancelled after 15 years.

The Republican platform also calls for new systems of learning, including technical institutions, online universities, lifelong learning, and work-based learning in the private sector.

You can read more about the candidates’ views on higher education in this overview by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

The American Association of Community Colleges will continue to represent two-year colleges regardless of which presidential and congressional candidates emerge as winners. Likewise, community college leaders are encouraged to continue advocating for students in their regions.

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Walter G. Bumphus

is president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges.