Bio for Sara Y Goldrick-Rab



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Educational Policy Studies
School of Education
UW - Madison
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1000 Bascom Mall
MadisonWI  53706

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Sara Goldrick-Rab

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Sara Goldrick-Rab

Educational Policy Studies (EPS)

239 Education Building  binoculars icon
1000 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706-1326
Office: 608/265-2141
-HOPE Lab report: "Hungry to Learn: Addressing Food & Housing Insecurity Among Undergraduates" (PDF)
-Wisconsin HOPE Lab
-Requesting a Letter of Recommendation from Dr. Goldrick-Rab (PDF)
Curriculum Vitae

Personal Biography

Sara Goldrick-Rab is Professor of Educational Policy Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is also Senior Scholar at the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education and an affiliate of the Center for Financial Security, Institute for Research on Poverty, and the Consortium for Chicago School Research. Goldrick-Rab’s commitment to scholar-activism is evidenced by her broad profile of research and writing dissecting the intended and unintended consequences of the college-for-all movement in the United States. In more than a dozen experimental, longitudinal, and mixed-methods research projects, she has examined the efficacy and distributional implications of financial aid policies, welfare reform, transfer practices, and a range of interventions aimed at increasing college attainment among marginalized populations. Her academic articles have appeared in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Sociology of Education, Review of Educational Research, and Teachers College Record among other peer-reviewed outlets, and she also publishes regularly for broader audiences in the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed, as well as on her blog The Education Optimists. This year, Harvard Education Press is releasing her latest book, Reinventing Student Aid for the 21st Century, co-edited with Andrew P. Kelly. In 2006, Goldrick-Rab was named a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation postdoctoral fellow, and in 2010 she received the five-year Faculty Scholars Award from the William T. Grant Foundation for her project, “Rethinking College Choice in America.” In 2014, the American Educational Research Association honored Goldrick-Rab with its Early Career Award. She provides extensive service to local, state, and national communities, working directly with governors and state legislators to craft policies to make college more affordable, collaborating with non-profit organizations seeking to examine the effects of their practices, and providing technical assistance to Congressional staff, think tanks, and membership organizations throughout Washington, DC. In spring 2013, Goldrick-Rab testified about her work on college affordability before the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, chaired by Senators Tom Harkin and Lamar Alexander. In May of 2014, Goldrick-Rab became the founding director of the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, the nation’s first translational research laboratory aimed at identifying new and effective ways to minimize barriers to college completion so that more students can reach their full potential.



Teaching Interests

Dr. Goldrick-Rab teaches a wide array of courses for undergraduate and graduate students across many disciplines. These include: EPS 518: Introduction to Debates in Higher Education Policy (open to freshmen - doctoral students) EPS 561: Gender and Higher Education EPS 618: Community Colleges-Issues and Research EPS 648: Sociology of Education EPS 780: Mixed Methods Research Practicum

Scheduled Teaching

  • Fall 2015 - Mixed Methods Research for Social Scientists
    Course Number: 780, Section: 001
    Course Syllabus
  • Fall 2015 - Seminar on Scholarly Activism
    Course Number: 780, Section: 003
    Course Syllabus
  • Fall 2014 - Introduction to Debates in Higher Education Policy
    Course Number: 518, Maximum Credit Hours: 3
    Course Syllabus
  • Spring 2012 - Practicum on Mixed Method Analysis
    Course Prefix: 310, Course Number: 780, Section: 001
    Course Syllabus

Research Interests

Dr. Goldrick-Rab's work examines the causes and consequences of inequality in postsecondary educational attainment. Current projects include: (1) An experimental study of the effects of need-based grants on the academic success of undergraduates from low and moderate-income families; (2) A multi-university comparative ethnographic study of college affordability (3) A descriptive exploration of how colleges and universities estimate living cost allowances as part of the cost of attendance (4) An intervention study of undergraduate loan entrance counseling

Grants and Sponsorships

  • 2010-2015 - Amount: $350,000.00, "“rethinking College Choice In America”," Awarded By: William T. Grant Foundation, Sara Y Goldrick-Rab.
  • 2012-2013 - Amount: $60,000.00, "Prior-Prior Year Income Tax Data Study," Awarded By: National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, Grant Institution: UW-Madison, Sara Y Goldrick-Rab, Principal.
  • 2011-2013 - Amount: $60,000.00, "William T Grant Scholars Mentoring Award," Awarded By: William T. Grant Foundation, Sara Y Goldrick-Rab, Principal.
  • 2012-2012 - Amount: $35,000.00, "“the Wisconsin Scholars Longitudinal Study”," Awarded By: The Institute for College Access and Success, Grant Institution: UW-Madison, Sara Y Goldrick-Rab, Principal.
  • 2008-2011 - Amount: $1,100,000.00, "Wisconsin Scholars Longitudinal Study," Awarded By: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Sara Y Goldrick-Rab; Douglas N. Harris.


  • Kelly, A., & Goldrick-Rab, S. (2014). Reinventing Financial Aid Charting a New Course to College Affordability. Harvard Press.
    Online Publication/Abstract
  • Harris, D.N., & Goldrick-Rab, S. (2012). Improving the Productivity of Education Experiments: Lessons from a Randomized Study of Need-Based Financial Aid. Education Finance and Policy. 72(2), 143-169.
  • Goldrick-Rab, S., & Han, S.W. (2011). The “Class Gap” in the “Gap Year”: Academic Coursetaking, Family Formation and Socioeconomic Differences in Delaying the Transition to College. Review of Higher Education.
  • Goldrick-Rab, S., & Sorensen, K. (2010). Unmarried Parents in College. Future of Children.
  • Goldrick-Rab, S. (2010). Challenges and Opportunities for Improving Community College Student Outcomes. Review of Educational Research.
  • Kelchen, R., & Goldrick-Rab, S. Accelerating Knowledge: A Fiscal Analysis of an Targeted Early Commitment Pell Grant Program. Unpublished Manuscript, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
  • Goldrick-Rab, S., Kinsley, P., & Byrd, D. Diversity and the Open Door: An Exploration of Economically and Racially Integrated Community Colleges. Manuscript in preparation.

Public Service

  • National Postsecondary Education Cooperative-Sample Surveys
    Dates of Membership: 2012 - Pres.

  • • Technical Review Panel, Beginning Postsecondary Study
    Dates of Membership: 2012 - Pres.

  • AERA Task Force on Standards for Part-Time, Adjunct, and Contingent Faculty
    Dates of Membership: 2012 - Pres.

  • • The Century Foundation National Task Force on Community Colleges
    Dates of Membership: 2012 - Pres.

  • Editorial Board, Research in Higher Education
    Dates of Membership: 2011 - Pres.

  • • Technical Review Panel, Baccalaureate and Beyond
    Dates of Membership: 2011 - Pres.

  • • Program Committee, Society for Research in Educational Effectiveness
    Dates of Membership: Sep. 2011 - March 2012

  • Wisconsin State Legislature, Special Committee on Higher Educational Aids Programs
    Dates of Membership: 2010 - 2011

Awards and Honors

  • William T. Grant Scholars Award
    Organization: William T. Grant Foundation
    Purpose: Scholarship/Research
    Scope: National
    Date(s): 2010 - 2015
  • 2014 AERA Early Career Award
    Organization: American Educational Research Association
    Purpose: Scholarship/Research
    Scope: National
    Description: This award is to recognize a scholar who has conducted a distinguished program of cumulative educational research in any field of educational inquiry within the first decade following receipt of their doctoral degree.
    Date(s): April 5, 2014
  • Mentoring Award
    Organization: William T. Grant Foundation
    Purpose: Service, Community
    Scope: National
    Date(s): June 2011 - May 2013
  • Outstanding Reviewer Award, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
    Organization: American Educational Research Association
    Purpose: Service, Professional
    Scope: National
    Date(s): 2011
  • Outstanding Reviewer Award, Review of Educational Research
    Organization: American Educational Research Association
    Purpose: Service, Professional
    Scope: National
    Date(s): 2010
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