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.



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 #13th 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

"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'

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

President Patricia McGuire
Trinity Washington University



Upcoming Events


  • 750b55_Calendar_128px"Paying the Price" Book Event: Harvard Book Store (Cambridge, MA)

    October 26, 2016 at 7:00 pm (EDT) - 8:30 pm (EDT) —   1256 Massachusetts Ave Cambridge MA 02138 United States

  • 750b55_Calendar_128pxKeynote Lecture, New School for Social Research (NYC)

    October 27, 2016 at 5:30 pm (EDT) - 7:00 pm (EDT) —  

    Details forthcoming

  • 750b55_Calendar_128pxSUNY CON: SUNY’s 6th Annual Critical Issues in Higher Education Conference

    October 28, 2016 at 9:30 am (EDT) - 10:30 am (EDT) —   242 W 41st St New York NY 10036 United States

    Details forthcoming

  • 750b55_Calendar_128px"Paying the Price" Book Event: University of Michigan

    November 1, 2016 —  

    Details forthcoming

  • 750b55_Calendar_128pxOpen Education Conference, Keynote Lecture

    November 4, 2016 at 8:30 am (EDT) - 9:15 am (EDT) —   Richmond, VA, USA

    Details forthcoming

  • 750b55_Calendar_128pxLecture in Wisconsin Idea Seminar: "The Future of Wisconsin Public Higher Education"

    November 8, 2016 at 6:00 pm (CST) - 7:30 pm (CST) —   The Pyle Center, 702 Langdon St, Madison, WI 53706, USA

    Open to public PAYING THE PRICE will be for sale

  • 750b55_Calendar_128pxAssociation for the Study of Higher Education- Annual Meetings

    November 9, 2016 - November 11, 2016 —   Columbus OH

    Several sessions

  • 750b55_Calendar_128px"Paying the Price" Book Event

    November 11, 2016 at 10:30 am (EST) - 11:45 am (EST) —   Columbus, OH, USA

    Hyatt First Floor, Hayes http://tinyurl.com/j7oeth5 Association for the Study of Higher Ed Books for sale and signing afterward

  • 750b55_Calendar_128pxAssociation of Public Land-grant Universities - Annual Meeting

    November 13, 2016 at 10:30 am (CST) - 11:45 am (CST) —   Austin, TX, USA

    “Hunger on Campus: Addressing Increasing Food Insecurity for Today’s College Students"

  • 750b55_Calendar_128pxLeague for California Community Colleges--Annual Convention, Keynote Lecture

    November 17, 2016 at 4:30 pm (PST) - 5:10 pm (PST) —   Riverside Convention Center 3637 5th St Riverside CA 92501

    Details forthcoming

  • 750b55_Calendar_128pxKeynote at SUNY-Fredonia (NY)

    November 29, 2016 —  

    Details forthcoming

  • 750b55_Calendar_128pxKeynoting conference at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (Green Bay)

    January 17, 2017 —  

  • 750b55_Calendar_128px"Paying the Price" Book Event: Seminary Co-op Bookstore, Chicago

    January 19, 2017 at 6:00 pm (CST) - 7:30 pm (CST) —   Seminary Co-op Bookstores, 5751 S Woodlawn Ave, Chicago, IL 60637, USA

  • 750b55_Calendar_128pxAAC&U Meetings in San Francisco- Opening Plenary

    January 26, 2017 at 8:30 am (PST) - 10:00 am (PST) —  

  • 750b55_Calendar_128px"Paying the Price" Book Event: CURE at Rutgers-Camden

    March 3, 2017 at 11:00 am (EST) - 2:00 pm (EST) —   Rutgers University–Camden, 303 Cooper St, Camden, NJ 08102, USA

    Details forthcoming

  • 750b55_Calendar_128px"Paying the Price" Book Event: University of Texas at Austin

    March 6, 2017 —   University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA

    Details forthcoming

  • 750b55_Calendar_128pxSouth by Southwest EDU ( SXSWEdu) in Austin

    March 7, 2017 - March 10, 2017 —  

  • 750b55_Calendar_128px"Paying the Price" Book Event: Cedar Crest College

    March 24, 2017 —   Allentown, PA, USA

    "Higher Education in 2017 Conference" Details forthcoming

  • 750b55_Calendar_128px"Paying the Price" Book Event: West Virginia University

    April 4, 2017 —   Morgantown, WV, USA

    Keynote Address- Celebration of Scholarship/Student Research Forum

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

    April 5, 2017 —  

    Details forthcoming

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