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Credit: Ilana Wurman

On Nov. 8, either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will make history as a new kind of American president.

But whether Election Day 2016 gives the White House to its first woman or first populist inhabitant, chances are the new POTUS' agenda will take the country far away from the policies of the Obama years. The Daily Pennsylvanian has compared Clinton and Trump’s policy platforms on several key issues that most affect Penn students.

Student loan debt:


Clinton plans to eliminate tuition at community colleges and providing $25 billion in federal funding to historically black colleges and universities, or HCBUs, and other academic institutions that serve racial minorities.

For current student loan borrowers, Clinton proposes to cap monthly loan payments at 10 percent of a borrower’s monthly income, with full forgiveness for the balance of the loan after 20 years. Her plan also calls for deferment of loan repayment for up to three years for entrepreneurs and up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness for social entrepreneurs.

For future borrowers, Clinton promises to immediately eliminate in-state tuition at public two- and four-year universities for families making up to $85,000 a year, with a longer-term goal of eliminating in-state public two- and four-year university tuition for families making up to $125,000 a year by 2021 — the end of a four-year presidential term.

Clinton says her plan will be paid for entirely by raising taxes on high-income taxpayers.


In terms of repayment, Trump’s plan is more generous than Clinton’s, calling for a monthly cap of 12.5 percent of income but full forgiveness after 15, rather than 20, years.

Trump also calls for greater cooperation between the White House and Congress to monitor universities’ costs and student debt levels. Trump has called out high administrative salaries and other university practices as reasons for continual tuition increases and wants there to be consequences if schools do not make a “good faith effort” to reduce tuition levels.

Campus sexual assault:


Clinton has called for federal investment and intervention to “confidential, comprehensive, and coordinated” support services for sexual assault victims available on every college campus in America. Her campaign also wants reporting processes for sexual assaults to be “fair and transparent” for all parties involved, regardless of whether an assault is reported to campus or law enforcement authorities.

She has also promised to “redouble” prevention efforts and sexual assault education, including concepts like bystander intervention and the definition of consent, in colleges and secondary schools.


While Trump himself has not released any proposals addressing campus sexual assault, the Republican Party did say in its platform outline released ahead of the Republican National Convention in July that campus sexual assault should be handled primarily by “civil authorities and prosecuted in a courtroom, not a faculty lounge.”

The GOP has also maintained that the Obama administration has misused Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the primary federal legislation on campus sexual assault, to illegally micromanage the way colleges address the issue on their campuses.



In general, Clinton has promised to expand the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare. Clinton wants to require all health insurance plans to cap out-of-pocket costs of drugs at $250 per month and improve access to reproductive care for women.

She also proposes banning direct-to-consumer advertising for pharmaceuticals and requiring pharmaceutical companies that receive federal funding to spend it on research and development, not on marketing.

Of interest to pre-med students is the National Health Service Corps, which Clinton wants to triple in size. Under this program, the federal government offers medical students scholarships or loan repayment if they agree to work in primary care in disadvantaged communities after finishing medical school.


Unlike Clinton, Trump wants to repeal the Obamacare, particularly the Act’s individual mandate which forces individuals to purchase health insurance or pay a tax. He also promises to modify laws that inhibit the sale of health insurance across state lines so that insurance providers can sell insurance to consumers in any state, promoting nationwide competition in the health insurance market.

Trump also wants to change tax laws to allow individuals to deduct the full cost of their health insurance premiums from their federal income taxes.

Trump’s healthcare platform also emphasizes Health Savings Accounts, or HSAs, where individuals can set aside money tax-free now to pay for future healthcare expenses. When an individual dies, the balance of their HSA passes tax-free to their heirs as part of their estate. Trump has said this will particularly benefit younger workers whose healthcare expenses are lower.

Mental health:


Clinton has promised to launch a new national, cross-governmental suicide prevention campaign, with particular emphasis on veterans, high schools and college campuses, and to call a White House Conference on Mental Health during her first year in office.

Clinton has also called for special training for law enforcement officers on how to interact with individuals with mental illnesses.

She also wants to use the authority of the presidency to fully enforce the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, which requires health insurance plans to provide the same access to mental health care as to other forms of healthcare.


While Clinton has called for action from the federal executive branch, Trump has called for greater support for ongoing legislation in Congress addressing mental health.

Immigration reform:


The Clinton platform calls for comprehensive legislation for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants within Clinton’s first 100 days in office.

Additionally, Clinton vows to defend the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, or DACA, program, which provides temporary exemption from deportation for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States before their sixteenth birthday, and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, or DAPA, program, which grants temporary exemption from deportation for undocumented immigrant parents with American-born children. Both programs have faced significant legal scrutiny and constitutional challenges, including a recent Supreme Court case.


Unsurprisingly, immigration reform has been a centerpiece of the Trump campaign, symbolized by his promise to build a wall on the United States-Mexico border.

Trump’s ten-point plan on immigration includes tripling the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation officers, creating a Deportation Task Force to identify and deport undocumented immigrants with criminal backgrounds, blocking funding for sanctuary cities like Philadelphia and cancelling the DACA and DAPA programs, which Trump has called unconstitutional.

He has, however, added that Congress should review outdated laws regulating legal immigration, arguing that the United States needs to modernize the way it screens and issues visas to immigrants who are law-abiding and willing to contribute to the country.

The economy and federal spending:


Hillary Clinton has promised a comprehensive jobs plan during her first 100 days, including increased federal investment in infrastructure spending, research & development, clean energy and domestic manufacturing. She also advocated raising the minimum wage to reflect the accurate living wage in different parts of the country.

Alongside growth, Clinton has proposed numerous new regulations on corporations and Wall Street, including an exit tax on companies that move jobs overseas and a risk fee on large financial institutions determined by how much debt and risk that firms takes on in a given year. She also wants to give federal regulators powers to force large financial firms to downsize, reorganize or break apart if they cannot manage risk effectively — the idea being to prevent a pre-2008 too-big-to-fail mentality.


Trump, on the other hand, favors a deregulation approach to the economy and job creation. His campaign calls for a broad moratorium on new regulations from federal agencies unless the regulations are ordered by Congress or made out of demonstrated concern for public safety. Trump has also called for a comprehensive review of existing regulations by heads of executive agencies and federal departments, and promises to find and eliminate wasteful regulations throughout his presidency.

Trump also promises to lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent, and to simplify the federal income tax from seven to three income brackets. He also wants to limit itemized tax deductions to $100,000 for single filers and $200,000 for married couples filing jointly.

He has, however, proposed a new deduction for childcare costs for children up to age 13, with an income cap limiting this deduction to low-and middle-income parents.

In terms of federal spending, Trump has proposed the “Penny Plan,” where the federal government reduces non-defense and non-entitlement spending by one percent annually. According to his campaign, the Penny Plan would reduce federal spending by $1 trillion over ten years.