Higher Education in the 2016 Presidential Election

2016 USA presidential election poster. EPS 10

2016 USA presidential election poster

With the 2016 Presidential Elections right around the corner, we’ve decided to focus our next few blog posts on the upcoming election and how it can, and will, impact education, both for the traditional and online student. To start, take a look at what each of the 4 Presidential hopefuls are saying about higher education:

(Please note: these candidates are listed in alphabetical order to avoid any claims of favor or bias on behalf of the author or site.)


Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton’s main argument regarding higher education focuses on the state of the economy. Clinton claims that the cost of education is holding the economy back, with many college students facing debt long after graduating. She argues in favor of debt-free (public) college, hoping to achieve this “by having the wealthy pay their fair share”, by basing tuition on family income.  Working to incorporate Bernie Sander’s “tuition-free” focused vision into her own campaign, Clinton looks to immediately eliminate tuition for families with incomes below $85,000, and by 2021 raise that number to include families making less than $125,000 a year.  Clinton also plans to lower the costs of non-tuition expenses (like books and other fees), and work to eliminate the possibility of graduating college in debt by limiting the repayment of federal state loans to 10% of a person’s income for a maximum of 20 years. Additionally, Clinton plans to follow President Obama’s push for free community college. On another note, Clinton plans to simplify the college and financial aid application process by amending the FAFSA and providing early eligibility notification for Pell recipients. Lastly, she plans to help those who already have loans by cutting interest rates, and allowing entrepreneurs to defer loan payments for up to 3 years.


Gary Johnson

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson’s proposal is straightforward- he plans to fully disband the Department of Education. He argues in favor of local and state control of education instead of federal control, stating that the federal government and their student loan programs are what caused the current “student debt crisis”.  Furthermore, once the federal government releases control of the educational system, Johnson would like to increase student involvement, creating new opportunities for interschool competitions and for students to partake and contribute to educational decisions. Although this would largely impact primary and secondary schools students, Johnson’s plan (mainly those focused on student loans) will ultimately have some impact on higher education students as well.


Jill Stein

As the candidate for the Green Party, Jill Stein advocates for student involvement in her “Power to the People Plan”. She aims to dissolve the current testing methods which follow a high-stakes pattern. Additionally, Stein argues in favor of a tuition-free public education and the abolition of all student debt, a move that would impact the number of students able to pursue a higher education.


Donald Trump

As a successful businessman turned politician, Republican candidate Donald Trump has chosen to focus his campaign on the economic aspect of the US’s educational issues. Like Johnson, Trump believes that the federal government is profiting unfairly from student debt. On the primary and secondary levels, Trump looks to promote school choice and make changes in budgeting methods in order to help those in poverty and the overall Department of Education.  For those students pursuing a higher education, Trump argues against tuition-free public education. Instead, he advocates for eliminating student debt by reducing the cost of universities, allowing institutions to receive private funding in place of federal funding or student debt-based payments. Furthermore, Trump plans to concretize the opportunity for every individual to pursue a degree, whether at a 2 or 4 year college or at a vocational or technical school. And, like Clinton, Trump also plans to put a cap on student loan repayments, looking to limit the amount of repayment to 12.5% of a person’s income for a maximum of 15 years. Most importantly, Trump’s platform proposes changes that should benefit and advocate for distance learners. The Republican looks to institute new systems of learning, including online universities and technical institutions, allowing for a broader and greater access to higher education.


So, now that you know where they each stand, what do you think? Who do you think would have the most positive impact on higher education? And what affect, if any, will this have on other forms of education?



2016 Presidential Candidates’ Higher Education Proposals, from NASFAA.org

How Will The 2016 Presidential Election Affect You As A College Student?, by James Turchick

Presidential Election: Who is the Best President for Higher Education, by Meris Stansbury

The 2016 Presidential Candidates on Higher Education, by Kyle Parks


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