Dive Brief:

  • Joe Biden is the anticipated winner of the presidential election, according to forecasts by several news organizations and polling groups. His victory is not official until the Electoral College vote in December.
  • Biden, who was vice president under the Obama administration, has pledged to expand free college and support workforce training as well as historically Black colleges and other minority-serving institutions. 
  • His win also promises to undo several Trump administration initiatives that have affected higher education, including changes to immigration policies and oversight of Title IX, the federal law banning sex discrimination on college campuses.

Dive Insight:

Unlike Trump, who in his four years has displayed some antagonism toward higher ed, Biden has pledged to invest heavily in the sector.

His campaign website outlines some of these measures, with a focus on institutions that have historically been overlooked or underfunded, including HBCUs and community colleges. Biden has said he would invest $18 billion in grants for low- and middle-income students to attend four-year MSIs.

Biden broadened his initial proposal of tuition-free community college by pledging to allow any student whose family earns under $125,000 a year to attend a four-year public school without paying tuition. He also wants to double the maximum Pell Grant award and allow formerly incarcerated individuals to use them. 

Furthermore, he has vowed to revoke Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ new rule governing how colleges investigate and potentially punish sexual violence on campuses. 

Trump’s Ed Department repealed Obama-era rules designed to check predatory for-profit colleges. Biden would likely reinstate those and could go further. He said he would pursue legislation to close a regulatory loophole that incentivizes for-profits to recruit military service members and veterans. Federal law prohibits for-profit schools from receiving more than 90% of their revenue from federal aid, but military benefits do not count in that calculation.

More immediately, Biden may prioritize other consumer-protection initiatives. The Trump administration, for instance, has largely refused to process the claims of students who say their colleges misled them, many of whom attended for-profits, resulting in lawsuits against the Education Department. 

Biden will also need to address the pandemic’s effect on students and colleges. Higher ed groups have asked for $120 billion in relief aid. The initial relief package granted them around $14 billion. 

The former vice president’s presumed win followed several contentious days in which a handful of battleground states decided the presidency. Trump’s representatives have brought several court challenges over the last few days, and so far they have mostly been rebuffed. 

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