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What the ‘State of the Union’ revealed about the future of US higher education.

Carly Gillis
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Seeing as our nation’s student loan crisis is constantly in the news, it was somewhat surprising that the subject didn’t come up at all during President Trump’s 2018 State Of The Union address. In fact, there were really only two parts of it that referenced his plans for higher education at all.

Let’s take a look at ’em.

1. “The great news for Americans … college savings accounts have gone through the roof.”

Seeing as this was said in the context of his tax bill, he was probably talking about the changes made to 529 tax-advantaged savings plans. That’s the only part of the tax bill that could be directly associated with college savings.

Never heard of 529 savings plans? You’re not alone… but more people should definitely know about them. Essentially, 529s are a type of savings account that lets money grow tax-free. What the recent tax bill changed about them is that now those funds can be used for private or religious K-12 school expenses. Before the change, the money deposited could only be used for colleges or universities.

It’s easy to see how this would encourage more Americans (and especially wealthy Americans) to put money in these accounts. But after this change, any “through the roof” growth in 529s doesn’t necessarily mean growth in college savings. And many experts believe this will negatively affect state budgets.

Regardless, it’s a good reminder to learn about setting up a 529 for your future college expenses. Or, if you already have one, reexamine how your family is using it.

2. “Let’s open great vocational schools, so our future workers can learn a craft and realize their full potential.”

This administration has a lot of interest in vocational school options.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recently gave a speech where she rallied for more innovation in certification courses, two-year degrees, and “microdegrees.” There’s also been some testimony about creating more of these kinds of opportunities during Senate meetings discussing the Higher Education Act.

During the State of the Union, President Trump made many references to expanding infrastructure, manufacturing, and energy sectors. This makes it easy to assume that there will be a boon in jobs that pertain to those trades very soon.

If you’re interested in jumping in on that trend, know that there is financial aid available for those kinds of vocational trade schools. And we at Frank are always happy to help you find those funds.

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We are not affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education. Federal Student Aid (FSA), an office of the U.S. Department of Education, makes the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form and assistance available to the public for free at fafsa.gov.