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Trumped Up Higher Education

The Trump Card for Higher Education

We were all concerned about the election, and now we’re concerned about the implications of Donald Trump as president.

Let’s see if we can objectively take a look at his platform and the potential ramifications his administrations’ views will have on higher education.

Issue 1: Costs

Trumps policies on higher education cost

Trump would fight proposals for debt-free public higher education and tuition-free higher education.

“He said he would push institutions to spend from their endowment and would reconsider if those with large endowments deserve to keep those endowments tax-exempt.” – NASFAA – 2016 Presidential Candidates

In layman’s terms, he’s not going to use more government funding to provide tuition free, or debt free, education.

There are several factors considered in this choice:

– Allocation of endowment money
– Increase in the national debt
– College education is still a privilege, and not a given
– And how much of this funding decision should be at the state level versus federal.

What this means for admissions, student retention and marketing:

Trump is calling for a cut to “administration bloat” and federal involvement to reduce tuition rates and the need for high-priced student loans. As an example, Trump had cited a 2015 study from Vanderbilt University that said it spent $150 million a year to comply with federal regulations.

That’s a LOT of student tuition!

We’re going to see a large impact on those students that currently rely on government funding to gain their education or who are thinking about funding their higher education with these methods. These students may not come back, qualify, or apply in the first place.

Some programs that may change are:

– Tuition discounting
– Financial aid programs that are funded from the government
– Tighter terms to qualify for aid through the FAFSA
– And other similar programs.


With a call to reduce student tuition, the need for federal loans and assistance may change as well. This would enable more students to go to college without financial assistance and making the overall cost of college more affordable for all.

When it comes to the office…

Admissions offices are on the front-lines when it comes to students and financial aid. With all the changes to government financial aid, the admissions offices have the opportunity to become great promoters of both internal and external scholarships that may help the family get over the cost hump and enable enrollment.

Marketing and admissions offices will need to continue to work together to provide clear communication about financial aid and costs. These should be transparent to the student and parents. Higher Education is an investment; admissions, marketing, and financial aid offices will have to work together to help their prospects and families understand that.

Issue 2: Student Loans

Student Loan policies

“We must open up the education industry—and let’s not kid ourselves that it is an industry—we must open it up to entrepreneurs and innovators-” at SXSXedu in 2015

The Trump administration believes lending should be restored to local, private banks instead of the Federal Reserve. Factors should include potential future earnings. Colleges should have “skin in the game” and share the risk associated with distributing student loans. Lending for a college education should be on a partnership between the student, the bank, and the college.

What this means for admissions, student retention, and marketing:

With more responsibility being put on students, colleges, and local banks, financial transparency of costs and allocations is going to be essential to making college possible for many new college prospects. I shared earlier in 2016 about a college that’s already doing this with great success HERE.

According to an article posted on, it is expected that degree programs that don’t have high job placement rates after college (liberal arts/creative degrees/etc.) will drop in applications for the simple fact that they won’t receive loans. This prediction is based on the statistics that these students will be unable to pay these loans once they’ve graduated.

To that end, degree programs that feed into high demand industries (tech/engineering/computer sci/healthcare) will see an increase in applications. These students have a higher probability of a job out of college, and the ability to attain and pay a loan.

Issue 3: Innovation and Accreditation


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

What this means for admissions, student retention, and marketing:

These statements remain vague until we see better evidence that would suggest how the Trump administration would choose to implement them.

Under this platform, we expect a greater call to the American workforce as jobs that had previously been outsourced return once again to American soil. This change in demand would make a workforce that’s trained and technical critical to success.

Many students who may not be inclined to a 4-year experience or price tag will look to community colleges and technical institutes to fill this need. A focus on lifelong and work-based learning will also gain emphasis to be able to show/prove their knowledge and experience in a particular field.

*Information on issues was gained from a compilation posted on regarding the 2016 presidential candidates (

*And from a Trump speech reported by (

See another way that Trump’s administration will affect higher education? Comment below and share!