Government Affairs

Policy Matters | Joe Biden is President Elect – What Does that Mean for Higher Education Policy? (November 2020)

November 24, 2020
Major Updates

  • Joe Biden is President Elect – What Does that Mean for Higher Education Policy?
    President-Elect Joe Biden will become the next President of the United States of America in January, so what does that mean for our field? For one, Jill Biden (who some of you will remember was a Keynote Speaker at the 2015 UPCEA Annual Conference) will be the most accomplished educator the Office of the First Lady has ever seen. Dr. Biden has said she plans to continue to teach, which would mark the only time a First Lady has continued full time work while serving in that role. Dr. Biden currently teaches at Northern Virginia Community College and . So it comes as no surprise that President-elect Biden has focused on support for community colleges and providing greater access and affordability. The  “(p)roviding two years of community college or other high-quality training program without debt for any hard-working individual looking to learn and improve their skills to keep up with the changing nature of work.” And, the affordability and access mission extends beyond community colleges, as President-Elect Biden’s current plan calls for making public colleges and universities tuition-free for all families with incomes below $125,000. With Vice President-elect Kamala Harris being an alumni of Howard University, and the first ever graduate of an HBCU to serve in the role, there will assuredly be an increased focus on funding and support for HBCUs and other minority serving institutions.Other expected changes or policies which are significant to the field, besides dealing with how to support schools during the pandemic are myriad. Those that are most impactful to the UPCEA community include state authorization, diversity and inclusion efforts, gainful employment, Title IX, borrower defense to repayment, international students and investments, alongside many others. While some of these changes can be achieved through the executive branch alone and , many of the more major structural reforms needed will require Congressional approval.All eyes are on the Georgia run-off election in January, which will be deciding two Senate seats, and determine whether President Biden will have an easier legislative pathway forward for his priorities by securing Democratic control of both the House and Senate. If not, we may potentially continue the same divided government that we have experienced in the past two years. Either way, the focus on higher education in the next administration has the potential to be greater due to the deep roots of the incoming first family.

  • Expirations of relief on payments and zero percent interest for federal student loans were created to provide relief to students during the pandemic, and are set to expire on December 31 of this year if no action is taken, even while the pandemic reaches record levels.
     , to ensure it fully covers the ongoing crisis caused by COVID-19.. Many students and student loan-holders have faced job or income losses, and this measure is critical in helping to alleviate these financial strains. There are murmurs that the current administration may soon provide a short, one month extension from the deadline until January 31st, which would allow for the incoming Biden Administration to further extend or address when assuming office.


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Kristen Brown, University of Louisville, Chair
Bridget Beville, University of Phoenix
Corina Caraccioli, Loyola University New Orleans
Abram Hedtke, St. Cloud State University

George Irvine, University of Delaware
Rob Kerr, University of Illinois, Springfield
Craig Wilson, University of Arizona


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