Republican Party’s 2020 Presidential Election Student Policy Guide

Written by: Kristyn Pilgrim
Updated: 8/31/20

As we edge closer to the presidential election in November, students may wish to be informed on how the elections will impact their student loans, college experience, and education. 

Each political party has its standards and attitudes toward handling education, and they can have radically different views on such an important topic. 

This article will explore the Republican Party’s primary educational goals and offer highlights on how the Republicans plan to deal with postsecondary education concerns. 

Republican Party’s Educational Platform

The Republican Party’s primary stance on education is that academic excellence should be available to all. Since 2016, the official talking point of the Republican Party on education has centered on maintaining American preeminence. Republican candidates continue to set forth the collective goal of instituting a world-class system that will allow all students to reach their highest potential. 

The Republican Party recognizes the following challenges currently inhibiting the U.S. educational system:

  • The racial and socioeconomic divides of this nation create differences in opportunity for education that require equalizing efforts.
  • Postsecondary education is frequently required to obtain middle-class jobs, yet the graduation rate for students from low-income backgrounds has seen pronounced stagnation in recent years.
  • The amount of debt being taken out by the average college student in America has burdened them with a crippling amount of debt.

The Republican Party plans to call for the active development of educational institutions outside of the traditional four-year university model. This means emphasizing the importance of giving equal federal aid to work-based learning programs, career and technical schools, and fully online universities. The Republican Party continues to advocate that all Title IX and sexual assault issues on campuses be addressed exclusively by law enforcement and not by university officials. 

The Republican Plan for Reforming Education

A major reform touted by the Republican Party is one of widespread and innovative access. The GOP believes that more Americans deserve easier entry to a quality higher education that suits the jobs they want to pursue. 

Republicans also attest that such an education should not cost so much that it puts a student in a looming default crisis, and colleges should be held accountable to their mission standards. There has been an overarching theme of placing control in the hands of the people, rather than the federal government, when it comes to personal choices on higher education. 

School choice — the ability and freedom of parents to make executive decisions about their school-age children’s attendance at a given school — represents one of the keystones of this party’s platform. 

The Republican Party does not believe that state, federal, or global entities should influence or override parents’ basic right to direct their children’s education. This translates to Republican opposition to Common Core and open enthusiasm for alternative learning methods that would be represented in a constitutional amendment.

Furthermore, the Republican Party believes that support for innovative school financing mechanisms is essential. The GOP plans to endorse the use of tuition tax credits, vouchers, and education savings accounts (ESAs). The largest portion of Title I federal funding (aimed at low-income students) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funds should also follow that student to any school deemed fit by the student’s family and no longer be a matter of ZIP code or address.

Republican educational reform measures include a demand for a reorientation of the accreditation process for all schools. Through this reorientation, schools’ accreditation would hinge on student outcomes and, thereby, institutions with positive peer reviews and provable results would receive more federal funding. 

This move would also open the credentialing market to private companies and allow states to determine whom they designate for the job of accreditation rather than placing every state under a one-size-fits-all mandate.

The Trump administration plans to continue reversing regulations that cause college costs to rise without correlative benchmarks of student academic success being met or exceeded. The Republican Party also insists that students of a given faith should be able to attend institutions that adequately reflect their ideals, with all campuses honoring a sacred commitment to free speech. 

President Trump on Student Loan Debt

Student loan debt represents a hot-button issue that presidential candidates will have to address leading up to the 2020 election. In a recent position paper addressing some fundamental problems in education, President Trump and the Republican Party have proposed several solutions involving overhauls of current structures. 

Here’s how the Republican Party plans to address the student loan problem in 2020:

  1. Simplifying debt repayment choices: This is going to mean including the private sector where once only federal aid was applicable and downsizing repayment options to a single model that never allows for a student’s monthly payment to exceed 12.5% of his or her monthly discretionary income.
  2. Increasing financial aid counseling: Listed as one of its signature concerns, the Republican Party plans to extensively overhaul the quality and quantity of financial aid counseling available to college students before they sign a loan agreement. Much of the Republican approach to restructuring the student loan crisis centers on creating better financial guidance.
  3. Offering debt forgiveness to qualified undergraduates: If an undergraduate student successfully repays 180 months of debt on an income-sensitive plan, the balance remaining would be eliminated. This plan is designed to eradicate the biases that can see students of a given career field awarded loan forgiveness, while students in another field are not. 

The Republican Party has also suggested enforcing “common-sense” limits on federal student loans, making it impossible for undergraduates to come away from college with more debt than they can feasibly repay. A total rethink of Federal Student Aid (FSA) would include a dramatic cutback on loan portfolios and the amount of debt each student can take out. 

Republican Support for Minorities

The Republican Party has proclaimed open and aggressive support for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). President Trump’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities aims to continue providing equity to these vital institutions by enforcing equal-access participation in federal programs and actively bolstering partnerships with HBCUs.

The Republican Party intends to make this board a fixture that would remain in place under any future president by way of a congressional act. With the continued help and support of the Interagency Working Group, the president’s HBCU board plans to promote growth capacity for HBCUs further, increase visibility for all minority groups, and drive overall market competitiveness associated with HBCUs.

As far as educational legislation that pertains to women and the LGBTQ community go, the Republican Party advocates support for the original meaning of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The Republican interpretation of this amendment does not recognize “sex discrimination” to include sexual orientation, and the party opposes the placement of single-bathroom and single locker room policies in any institution receiving federal aid. 

You Don’t Have to Plan for College Alone

With student loan debt now exceeding what Americans owe on credit cards or home and auto loans, students facing their economic futures need more guidance than ever to tackle college costs. can help you plan for your fiscal future and make informed decisions about how to pay for school.

Plan for a successful postsecondary path by visiting for detailed and relevant information on everything from scholarships to refinancing options. While we cannot tell you who to vote for, we can certainly help you get the facts on what financial path works best for your college dreams.