President Donald J. Trump (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Trump Proposes Free Online University Funded By Private University Endowments

Former President Donald Trump unveiled a plan to create a federally funded online university called the American Academy if reelected.
President Donald J. Trump applauds as he disembarks Air Force One. Oct. 13, 2020, (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Former President Donald Trump unveiled a plan to create a federally funded online university called the American Academy if reelected.

His proposal aims to offer free degrees while prohibiting “wokeness or jihadism” within the institution.

Trump’s vision for the American Academy involves taxing large private university endowments to finance the new educational venture, according to POLITICO.

Trump’s policy proposal stems from a growing concern over the perceived ideological biases prevalent in higher education institutions.

Trump argues that despite the United States spending more money on higher education than any other country, universities are allegedly turning students into “communists and terrorists.”

Read: Trump Campaign Taps Small-Dollar Donors To Outraise Biden In Minnesota

The American Academy, as proposed by Trump, would be an entirely new educational institution funded by taxing wealthy university endowments, such as Harvard.

The aim is to compete with existing schools and offer affordable options for college without relying on massive government spending.

The American Academy would grant credit to prospective students for their past coursework and provide them with the opportunity to complete their education for free.

Under the Trump administration’s 2017 tax law, a 1.4 percent levy on investment income was imposed on the wealthiest private universities. In 2022, 58 institutions paid a total of $244 million in taxes.

While this revenue may not be sufficient to fund the entire institution, Trump also proposes generating additional funds by “fining and suing” wealthy universities.

Competing with Traditional Higher Education

Creating a federally funded online university represents a groundbreaking approach to higher education. The American Academy would challenge the traditional model of brick-and-mortar institutions by providing a free alternative to students.

However, Trump would need to gain congressional support to realize his plan. Convincing lawmakers to embrace this radical shift in higher education would require strategic negotiations and the demonstration of the American Academy’s potential benefits.

Contrasting Approaches: Trump vs. Biden

Trump’s proposal for the American Academy presents a stark contrast to President Joe Biden’s plan for free college education.

While Biden aims to wipe out student loan debt and make higher education more accessible, Trump argues for affordable options without incurring trillions of dollars in government spending. The two approaches reflect differing ideologies regarding the role of government in supporting education and addressing student debt.

Historical Context and Republican Calls for Change

The idea of a national university has been contemplated for centuries, with George Washington advocating for its establishment in 1780. Trump’s proposal aligns with a broader Republican sentiment to challenge the American higher education system.

Republicans have criticized universities for what they perceive as progressive ideologies and hostility towards conservative views. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has also called for overhauling college accreditation and promoting more conservative-leaning institutions.

Trump’s Prior Involvement in Education Policy

Trump’s interest in education policy is not limited to the American Academy proposal. During his presidency, he advocated for new accreditation standards, the removal of diversity administrators, and a defense of American and Western civilization in school curricula.

Trump aimed to ensure that students receive value for their education through entrance and exit exams, accelerated and low-cost degree options, and improved career placement services.

The Trump University Controversy

It is essential to acknowledge the controversy surrounding Trump’s previous educational venture, Trump University.

The real estate seminar program faced allegations of defrauding students, leading to a $25 million settlement. While this past experience may raise concerns, it is crucial to evaluate Trump’s current proposal for the American Academy on its own merits and potential benefits.

The Biden Administration’s Approach

While Trump puts forth his vision for the American Academy, the Biden administration has pursued debt relief efforts and initiatives to support Americans with college debt but no degree.

Biden’s focus is on helping those who have incomplete degrees, offering various types of credentials accepted by the federal government and its contractors. These efforts aim to address the struggles faced by millions of Americans with some college education but no degree.

Reinstating Federal Oversight

The Trump administration sought to deregulate higher education, particularly online and for-profit colleges, arguing that federal requirements hindered innovation in the sector.

However, Democrats criticized these changes, claiming that they allowed institutions to mislead students and accumulate debt without providing sufficient value.

Under the Biden administration, federal oversight rules that were rolled back by Trump have been reinstated, with a focus on protecting students and ensuring quality education.

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