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Spring 2020 Institute Conference

Higher Ed: Who Pays? What role should the public sector play in supporting students pursuing higher education in the United States?

June 18, 2020 | 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. CT
Opportunity & Inclusive Growth Institute at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis hosted jointly with the Economics Department of the University of Minnesota

Spring 2020 Institute Conference

As college costs have risen, use of personal debt to finance postsecondary education has increased dramatically. Student loans have increased access to college for many, but rising student debt levels have generated questions about whether the current system is appropriate or sustainable.

The dramatic changes that COVID-19 has brought to campuses make this issue particularly timely. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the U.S. system of higher education finance? And how can this system be shored up following COVID-19?

Panelists from academia, policymaking, and the U.S. higher education system will come together to discuss answers to the big question of who should foot the bill as postsecondary education expands in the United States.

Conference summary video: Trade-offs in financing higher education
Panelists discuss the evidence on using public funds to finance higher education and share views on the right mix of private versus public funding.

Conference summary video: What works in financing higher education
Panelists offer evidence-based solutions for reforming how higher education is funded in the United States

Program Agenda

10:00 a.m. CDT Welcome

Neel Kashkari (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis)

10:05 a.m. CDT Panel 1: Trade-offs in Financing Higher Education

Using public funds to finance higher education might be important for several reasons. These include borrowing constraints faced by would-be attendees, benefits from higher education that extend beyond those receiving it, lack of information about benefits relative to cost, and addressing persistent inequality. Panelists will discuss their reading of the evidence on these issues and share views on the right mix of private versus public funding for higher education.

Panelists: Rachel Dinkes (American Institutes for Research) [slides], Rajashri Chakrabarti (Federal Reserve Bank of New York) [slides], Constantine Yannelis (University of Chicago), Dominique Baker (Southern Methodist University) [slides], Devinder Malhotra (Minnesota State Colleges and Universities), Adam Looney (University of Utah & Brookings Institution) [slides]

Moderator: Ray Boshara (Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis)

11:00 a.m. CDT Panel 2: Weighing the Alternatives

Panelists will discuss concrete suggestions for reforming how higher education is funded in the United States and explain their views on why and where reform is needed.

Panelists: David Deming (Harvard University), Sue Dynarski (University of Michigan), James Kvaal (Institute for College Access & Success) [slides], Beth Akers (Manhattan Institute), Lesley Turner (Vanderbilt University) [slides]

Moderator: Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (Washington Post)

12:00 p.m. CDT Keynote: Paying the price: What's at stake for #RealCollege students in today's policy debates

Sara Goldrick-Rab (Temple University) [slides]

Lead off Q&A: Rachel Croson (University of Minnesota), Jordan Matsudaira (Columbia University)

12:50 p.m. CDT Conclusion

Abigail Wozniak (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and Opportunity & Inclusive Growth Institute)