What Does Donald Trump Say About Student Debt?

Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images.
For many voters, one of the biggest concerns is how much money they have in their bank accounts.

And for many millennial voters, that total is inextricably tied up with student debt.

The issue of affordable education and student loans came up on both sides of the aisle during the primary season. Now, with the nominees chosen, voters are ready to hear what they're each planning to do to address this issue.

So what does Donald Trump have to say about student debt and affordable education? Here are three things to know. And if you're curious about where Clinton stands on these issues, click here to find out more.

He says the government shouldn’t be profiting off student borrowers.

Trump’s stance on student debt and affordable education is fairly vague. He’s said on multiple occasions, including in his 2015 book Crippled America, that the government shouldn’t be in the business of profiting off student loans. In a 2015 interview with The Hill, he doubled down on that position, calling student debt “probably one of the only things the government shouldn’t make money [on].”

“I’ll see so many young people and they work really hard for four years. They borrowed money. Their parents don’t have much. They work all together and they mortgage their future,” he said. Trump hasn’t elaborated on if or how he would overhaul the federal student loan system, but a policy director for the campaign told Inside Higher Ed in May that Trump would take the government out of student lending entirely, moving debt instead to private lenders.

He’s proposed tying loans to job prospects.

The Trump campaign has suggested that once the federal government is out of the loans business, private lenders and colleges could work together to decide what kind of loans to give students. Trump campaign official Sam Clovis said in a Huffington Post interview that the institutions could then tailor loans to a student’s career prospects.

Some are concerned that the proposal could hurt students who choose to study the liberal arts and humanities — fields that are often dismissed as impractical or unlikely to lead to employment. Under Trump’s proposal, it could be possible for a student to be denied a loan if a bank thinks that she is unlikely to be able to pay back the thousands loaned for an English degree, for example. That could leave the student to make the choice of either switching majors to something more likely to lead to immediate employment, or forgoing the money. Critics suggest that it could effectively mean that only the wealthy would have the freedom to pursue fields like English, Philosophy, or History.

He thinks the Department of Education should be "largely eliminated."

In a Fox News town hall in Wisconsin in April, Trump called the Department of Education “massive” and said it should be decimated. “The Department of Education is massive and it can be largely eliminated. Now you maybe want to have a little bit of, you know, tentacles out there, make sure everything — but largely we can eliminate the Department of Education,” he said.

Trump hasn’t clearly stated what he would do to replace the functions of the department after its elimination, but he has spoken out in favor of education in general. “Well, the greatest function of all by far [of the U.S. government] is security for our nation. I would also say health care, I would also say education,” he said at the CNN debate on March 30.

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