Sam Clovis, the national co-chair and policy director of Trump's campaign, outlined for Inside Higher Ed the ideas that the presumptive GOP nominee is preparing to put forth. While final decisions have not been made on when the ideas will be formally unveiled, not to mention many details worked out, Clovis said the Trump campaign expects higher education to be a major issue in the fall general election.
Some of the ideas under consideration could be "revolutionary," Clovis said. Proposals currently being prepared would upend the current system of student loans, force all colleges to share the risk of such loans and make it harder for those wanting to major in the liberal arts at nonelite institutions to obtain loans. And even if some of the proposals would face a skeptical Congress, these ideas could gain considerable attention if Trump uses them to parry with his Democratic opponent.
And these reforms would make it legitimate for colleges and banks to make decisions in part on students' prospective majors and their likely earnings after graduation, he said.
"If you are going to study 16th-century French art, more power to you. I support the arts," Clovis said. "But you are not going to get a job."
A college should factor that in when deciding on a student's loan eligibility, and the requirement that colleges share the risk would be a powerful incentive to do so, Clovis added.
"If you get into the esoteric aspects of a particular art field, you have to know that those are the circumstances," he said.
And Clovis said this does not mean the Trump campaign is against the liberal arts. "The liberal arts education is the absolute foundation to success in life," Clovis said, adding that he hoped business and engineering and health professions and education students would include liberal arts courses in their college educations. But it is a different thing altogether, Clovis said, to focus on such fields. "If you choose to major in the liberal arts, there are issues associated with that."