Donald Trump holds up a stop sign to would-be college students (illustrated)
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and/or policies of Debt.com.

I had a semiannual ritual in college. It started every semester when I went to register for classes.  The university website login page would always read the same message: “Your account has been locked by the Bursar’s Office.”

Basically, that meant I hadn’t paid tuition, nor had my parents. This would start a mad dash to find $3,500 in 24 hours so I could register for the classes I wanted. It would end with a last minute in-person payment by my mom, who had somehow pieced the tuition together.

When I would walk back to my dorm, all I could think was: What if I didn’t go to a state school? Imagine trying to piece together $20,000-a-semester between loans and savings.

It didn’t used to be this way. Average college tuition for a private school cost around $2,000 a year in the 70s. That’s calculated with the current dollar. Compare that with around $31,000 per year for a private school now. The rise has outpaced inflation, significantly. Fifteen times the cost, that is insane.

There is enough blame to go around. However, it’s up to someone to fix it. Inevitably that falls on the shoulders of the federal government.

2017 ended with President Trump pushing through tax legislation that has enough incentives to coerce growth out of our economy. It looks like he will employ a similar method to bring down the rising cost of college.

Where’s the beef?

I think we all learned some valuable civics lessons last year. A big one is that a legislative agenda is tough to bull through in Congress.

That’s the only reason I can offer for why Trump hasn’t started his face-off with universities yet. (Remember it took two years for Obamacare to see the House floor — even then, who actually read it?)

But on the campaign trail and last year, Trump hammered away at colleges for the rising costs. If you look at the message he is sending, you get a good idea of what that plan could be.

Trump, like all Republicans, points to a policy of trickledown to start waves of change. (Spare me your “trickledown doesn’t work” mantra and go look at your 401(k). Quit complaining.)

Trickledown ideologies use the nature of humanity and capitalism against the ills of society. Simply put, supply and demand continue to cause skyrocketing tuition costs. Add in that most college loans are backed by the federal government and there’s no reason to not jack up the price; hey, it’s guaranteed.

So cut the incentives. It’s harsh, but needed.

Earlier this year Trump signaled the way for change through higher education funding cuts. The cuts aimed at taking away programs that, like most Obama-era functions, sound altruistic — but fail to deliver results.

Eliminating billions of free dollars from colleges forces them to do one of two things: raise tuition or cut services that don’t benefit students. It’s their choice. However, if you keep raising tuition, it stands to reason, demand will fall off.

Then what?

That’s where Trump has begun to push alternative forms of education.

(You can scoff and show me a graph where those college-educated earn more over a lifetime. I’ll show you one where it doesn’t matter. Thank you, Colorado.)

College isn’t for everyone, but higher education is.

That same 2015 study from Colorado shows that after 10 years the income of a certificate program or associate’s degree has comparable earnings to that of a bachelor’s degree. So why not push this route?

In 2017, the new president demanded more federal investment go into apprenticeship programs to the tune of $200 million. That money trains people for jobs. It’s an excellent investment. It has a twofold effect.

By increasing the postgraduate options for high school students, it can force colleges to make a bachelor’s degree more marketable to high school students. In other words, bring down the costs of a four-year school or lose students.

When there are other options on the table, it will force colleges to adapt. You can’t control what colleges charge for tuition. However, the federal government can use funding to make the environment more competitive in a good way for students.

The old mantra was to better yourself you needed a college degree. In many ways, that’s arcane logic. In the current state it’s almost laughable that one year of tuition be more than your first year’s salary after school. That’s not right.

This year expect President Trump to use a combination of incentives for post graduate alternatives combined with restrictions of funding for colleges. That should begin the tough process of bringing down tuition. It may be messy at first, but it’s necessary to get a handle on the insane rising cost of college.

Article last modified on July 12, 2018. Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Class Dismissed: Trump’s Plan to Tackle Rising College Costs - AMP.

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Article last modified on July 12, 2018. Published by Debt.com, LLC .