Melania Trump, Donald Trump’s third wife, entered the political spotlight in July 2016 as she took the stage to give a speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.
She quickly drew accusations that she plagiarized a portion of her speech from Michelle Obama. Not long after that, several media outlets published stories claiming that Trump had lied about her college degree. The GOP Convention program stated that Trump attended “University in Slovenia” where she obtained a degree in architecture and design:
Born on April 26, 1970 in Slovenia, Melania Knauss began her modeling career at the age of sixteen. At the age of eighteen, she signed with a modeling agency in Milan. After obtaining a degree in design and architecture at University in Slovenia, Melania was jetting between photo shoots in Paris and Milan, finally settling in New York in 1996.
This same claim appeared on Melania Trump’s personal web site when this article was first published:
Shortly afterwards, the MelaniaTrump.com site was scrubbed from the Internet, and the domain was redirected to the web site for the Trump Organization (Trump.com). That corporate site contains no mention of Melania’s purported degree, or any other biographical information about her.
There is no “University in Slovenia,” nor is there a “University of Slovenia.” The country contains several colleges, including the University of Ljubljana, which other news outlets have reported (without citation) was where Melania obtained her degree. But while the claim that she possesses a degree in Architecture and Design appears on several web sites, these reports lack specific details, such as the year she graduated.
A wide-ranging interview published in GQ in April 2016 reported that Trump did gain admission to the the University of Ljubljana by passing a “notoriously difficult” entrance exam, but left after just one year to pursue a burgeoning modeling career:
In those days, Melania wasn’t thinking about a career as a model. Like her sister, Ines, her goal was to become a designer, and she applied to the school of architecture at the local university, successfully passing the notoriously difficult entrance exams. In those years in Ljubljana, she was focused on school. She didn’t drink, didn’t party, didn’t smoke. Even after she met Jerko and began dabbling in modeling, she preferred to go home after work, to be with her equally quiet and reserved sister. “She kept to herself, she was a loner. After a shoot or a catwalk, she went home, not out. She didn’t want to waste time partying,” Jerko remembers.
Melania decamped to Milan after her first year of college, effectively dropping out.
CBS News, which previously had published the claim that Melania Trump had received her degree, looked deeper into into it after her appearance at the Republican National Convention:
Melania Trump didn’t receive a college degree in design and architecture at the university in Ljubljana, Slovenia, which her biography in the Republican National Convention program claims she had obtained.
CBS News has checked the official public records of the university, and Melania Trump is not listed as having graduated from there with a degree.
We also checked the Ljubljana University archives for any records of Melania Knauss, Melanija Knavs, and every other combination and alternate spellings of those names that we could find, and were unable to locate a record of her at that university, nor at any other university in the country.
There is as yet no word whether, in a repeat of his 2012 election-eve “big announcement,” Donald Trump will offer Melania $5 million to produce her college transcripts.