I’m a scholar-activist with a singular mission: to identify novel approaches to making higher education the accessible and affordable place that families want and need it to be. I welcome your interest in my work and look forward to hearing from you.

As I always say, “Hope is a strategy,” when it comes to making college affordable.



Research and Teaching that Matters

"One clear influence on the Obama plan is a proposal by Sara Goldrick-Rab and Nancy Kendall, professors at the University of Wisconsin. They argue that the current financial aid system is broken, which explains why “students from high-income families who enter college are now six times more likely than those from low-income families to complete bachelor’s degrees by age 25.” They instead advocate universal community college, with students freed from covering both tuition costs and living costs. Their proposal differs from Mr. Obama’s in some substantial ways, including the fact that they would redirect federal money currently being spent on financial aid at private colleges. Yet it’s also clear that White House officials devising their plan have thought about the Goldrick-Rab-Kendall plan."

David Leonhardt
The Upshot, The New York Times


"Sara Goldrick-Rab makes it a point to talk about college affordability with people all along the spectrum of political philosophy. “I have found thought partners wherever I can get them,” she says. “I want my talk to be effective; therefore I have to talk to people who don’t think like me. It is thought-provoking, it is eye-opening, it makes me a better scholar.”

Pat Schneider
The Capital Times


"Goldrick-Rab's research...could change the face of American higher education and the economic model of an entire industry, in part, because of her curiosity about making education more accessible for the poor."

"Professor Goldrick-Rab is an inspiration; she utilizes her intellect and academic abilities to analyze and study the complex issues of college affordability and completion and is then able to translate them for all audiences. Perhaps most importantly she uses her skills and compassion to motivate others to make societal change. Our country is lucky to have her."

Maggie Brubaker,
National Scholarship Providers Association

"The research conducted by Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab has been a tremendous resource in helping me better understand the challenges students face in getting a fair shot at a college education, and what steps Congress can take to address them. Dr. Goldrick-Rab’s research and testimony before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee last year inspired me to introduce legislation to help working students and she was a trusted partner in developing the Working Student Act."

Senator Tammy Baldwin
State of Wisconsin


"@saragoldrickrab I'm 4 free CC and living exp grants to take those in poverty and give them enough to focus on school rather than survival."

Mark Cuban (@mcuban)

Read more on Storify. 


"Individuals who show up prominently in the rankings—like Sarah Turner, Caroline Hoxby, Tom Bailey, Bridget Terry Long, Sara Goldrick-Rab, Sandy Baum, Richard Arum, and Susan Dynarski—have presented compelling data, offered proposals for policy and practice, penned influential books, and engaged in the messy give-and-take of struggling to improve policy and practice. They deserve to be commended for doing so."
(Sara Goldrick-Rab is ranked #10th among 200 ranked edu-scholars, and is the top female sociologist in the rankings).

Rick Hess
American Enterprise Institute

"There are two kinds of political activists: those who dedicate their time to a worthy political cause, and those who are absolutely awesome at it. One of those people who are absolutely awesome at advocating for a worthy political cause is Sara Goldrick-Rab."

Aaron Camp
The Progressive Midwesterner

".@saragoldrickrab your fine scholarship on college affordability and your strong voice are essential, and people are paying attention!"

President Patricia McGuire
Trinity Washington University



"Sara Goldrick-Rab has become a trusted advisor to our state of Oregon— she's met with business people, with legislators, and even had dinner with the governor to talk about making community college tuition free.  She came across not as an outspoken activist but as a common-sense voice for getting poor and middle-class kids into college. As the Oregon Promise has rolled out, I’ve met with hundreds of the more than 10,000 kids who have arrived and community college campuses all over our state— Sara played a big role in changing their lives and I personally want to extend my gratitude for her incredible help."

Senator Mark Hass
State of Oregon

"If you ever have the chance to take a methods class with Sara Goldrick-Rab, do it. Or, follow her on Twitter. Class is always in session." Read more here.

Tressie McMillan Cottom
Assistant Professor of Sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University

"It was a great pleasure to have you visit with my first year education class at Lake State! I could tell you are an educator because you can just jump in and teach at a moment’s notice! You did a wonderful job of putting semi-complex ideas about funding policy into terms everyone understood. I thought it was great!"

Barb Light
Lake Superior State University


"It was an honor and a pleasure to meet you at the 1vyG conference at Harvard this past weekend. I wanted to thank you for the affirmation you have given me in my First-Gen identity. Your talk was my favorite. Thank you again for the amazing sense of empowerment you have imparted to me. You are truly an inspiration."

Nicholas Karavolias
Cornell University
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences 18'

Upcoming Events


  • 750b55_Calendar_128px"Paying the Price" Book Event- University of Pittsburgh

    April 5, 2017 at 4:30 pm (EDT) - 7:00 pm (EDT) —   Posval Hall, Room 5604 ( School of Ed. Colloquium Room)

    Details forthcoming

  • 750b55_Calendar_128pxPaying the Price: Book Event at Norwalk Community College

    April 6, 2017 —  

    Time TBA

  • 750b55_Calendar_128pxPaying the Price: Book Event at CSCU 3rd Annual Conference on Shared Governance and Student: Building a Better Connecticut in an Era of Fiscal Uncertainty

    April 7, 2017 —  

    Time TBA

  • 750b55_Calendar_128pxBunker Hill Community College Convening on Food Insecurity

    May 5, 2017 —  

  • 750b55_Calendar_128pxOhio State University, Office of Distance Education & eLearning, 2017 Innovate Conference

    May 16, 2017 —  

  • 750b55_Calendar_128pxEmbark Georgia Conference, Keynote

    May 19, 2017 —   Athens, GA

  • 750b55_Calendar_128pxPaying the Price: Book Event -- Working Class Student Association Conference, Keynote

    June 2, 2017 —   Bloomington, IN, United States

    Time TBA

  • 750b55_Calendar_128pxHigher Education Financial Wellness Summit, Keynote

    July 31, 2017 —   Minneapolis

  • 750b55_Calendar_128pxKeynote SHEEO Policy Conference (Minneapolis)

    August 11, 2017 at 11:30 am (EDT) - 1:00 pm (EDT) —  

  • 750b55_Calendar_128pxPaying the Price: Book Event at Montgomery College (MD)

    August 22, 2017 at 9:00 am (EDT) - 10:00 am (EDT) —  

  • 750b55_Calendar_128pxPaying the Price: Book Event at Eastern Kentucky University

    September 7, 2017 —  

  • 750b55_Calendar_128pxKeynote at Oregon Community College Association Conference

    November 3, 2017 —  

    Topic: Basic Needs Insecurity at Community Colleges

Request Sara for your next event:

To request that Sara speak at your next event, please contact Jamie Brickhouse at redBrick Agency, jamiebrickhouse@redbrickagency.com