Sara with Dr. Mike Rosen, MATC Economics Professor. Photo Credit: John Saller

The Wisconsin HOPE Lab

In 2013 Sara founded The Wisconsin HOPE Lab, the nation’s first laboratory for translational research aimed at improving equitable outcomes in postsecondary education. The Lab helps make findings from basic science useful for practical applications that enhance college attainment and human well being throughout the state, and in turn, the nation.


Books & Book Chapters


Goldrick-Rab, S. Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. (2016)

Kelly, A. & Goldrick-Rab, S. (Editors). Reinventing Financial Aid: Charting a New Course to College Affordability. Harvard Education Press, Cambridge, MA. (2014)

Shaw, K., Goldrick-Rab, S., Mazzeo, C., & Jacobs, J. Putting Poor People to Work: How the Work-First Idea Eroded College Access for the Poor. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. (2006)

Book Chapters

Monaghan, D. & Goldrick-Rab, S. “Community College Intervention-Incentive Based Randomized Controlled Trials.” In B. Schneider (Ed), Handbook of Sociology of Higher Education in the 21st Century. (forthcoming).

Kinsley, P. & Goldrick-Rab, S. “Making the Grade: The Academic Side of College Life Among Financial Aid Recipients.” In A. Stich and C. Freire (Eds), The Working Classes and Higher Education: Inequality of Access, Opportunity, and Outcome. (forthcoming).

Schudde, L. & Goldrick-Rab, S. “Extending Opportunity, Perpetuating Privilege: Institutional Stratification amid Educational Expansion,” In M. Bastedo, P. Altbach, P. Gumport, and B. Berdahl (Eds), American Higher Education in the 21st Century. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. (forthcoming).

Goldrick-Rab, S. “Carpe Diem: Lessons from my First Randomized Experiment.” In L. Hedges and R. Maynard (Eds), Teaching Cases: Nuts and Bolts of Randomized Controlled Trials in Education. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, PA. (Forthcoming).

Goldrick-Rab, S. & Kelchen, R. "Making Sense of Loan Aversion: Evidence from Wisconsin." In Student Loans and the Dynamics of Debt, B. Hershbein and K. Hollenbeck, eds. Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, pp. 317-378. (2015).

Goldrick-Rab, S. “Economic Diversity for Cost Containment.” In R. Kahlenberg (Ed.), The Future of Affirmative Action: New Paths to Higher Education Diversity after Fisher v. University of Texas. Century Foundation, NY. (2014).

Goldrick-Rab, S., Schudde, L. & Stampen, J. “Creating Cultures of Affordability: Can Institutional Incentives Improve the Effectiveness of Financial Aid?” In A. Kelly and S. Goldrick-Rab (Eds.), Reinventing Financial Aid: Charting a New Course to College Affordability. Harvard Education Press, Cambridge, MA. (2014).

Goldrick-Rab, S., & Kinsley, P. “School Integration and the Open Door Philosophy: Rethinking the Economic and Racial Composition of Community Colleges.” In The Century Foundation (Ed.) Bridging the Higher Education Divide: Strengthening Community Colleges and Restoring the American Dream. Brookings Institution Press, Washington, DC. (2013).

Goldrick-Rab, S. & Cook, M. “College Students in Changing Contexts.” In P. Altbach, P. Gumport, and B. Berdahl (Eds), American Higher Education in the 21st Century. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. (2011).

Goldrick-Rab, S. “Accountability for Community Colleges: Moving Forward.” In K. Carey and M. Schneider (Eds), Accountability in American Higher Education. Palgrave. (2010).

Goldrick-Rab, S. “The Puzzle and Paradox of Student Mobility in Higher Education.” In P. Pasque, N. Bowman, and M. Martinez (Eds), Understanding and Achieving Higher Education for the Public Good. Kenneshaw State University Press. (2009).

Goldrick-Rab, S., Harris, D., & Trostel, P. “Why Financial Aid Matters (or Does Not) for College Success: Toward A New Interdisciplinary Approach.” In J. Smart (Ed) Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, v. 24, pp. 1-45. (2009).

Goldrick-Rab, S. “Reducing Inequality in an Age of Student Mobility: Challenges Facing American Higher Education.” Chapter 7 in R. Teese, S.Lamb, and M. Duru-Bellat (Eds), Education and Equity: International Perspectives on Theory and Policy. Volume 3. Springer Publishing. (2007).

Goldrick-Rab, S. & Shaw, K. “Tracking How New Ideas Become Higher Education Policy and Practice: The Challenges of Gathering Comparative Policy Implementation Data.” In D. Heller and K. Shaw (Eds), Key Issues In Higher Education. Chapter 4 (pp.77-95) Stylus. (2007).

Policy Reports

Goldrick-Rab, S. & Eisenberg, D. In the darkness, unassisted. Blog piece at The HILL (2016).

Lee, C. & Goldrick-Rab, S. Navigating College: The Resource Guide for Homeless and Low Income Students. Published at MoneyGeek (2016).

Eisenberg, D. & Goldrick-Rab, S. Here's another reason why many community college students do not get their degree. The Conversation (2016).

Broton, K. & Goldrick-Rab, S. Public Testimony on Hunger in Higher Education. Submitted to the National Commission on Hunger. Wisconsin HOPE Lab, Madison, WI. (2015).

Goldrick-Rab, S. & Nellum, C. Request to Add Measurement of Food Insecurity to the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study. Wisconsin HOPE Lab & American Council on Education Center for Policy Research and Strategy. (2015).

Goldrick-Rab, S. Frequently Asked Questions About President Obama’s Free Community College Proposal. The Wisconsin HOPE Lab. (2015).

Goldrick-Rab, S., Kelchen, R. & Hosch, B. Information, Accountability, and College Costs: The Need for Standardized Living Cost Calculations in Higher Education. The Wisconsin HOPE Lab. (2015).

Goldrick-Rab, S. & Kendall, N. Redefining College Affordability: Securing America’s Future with a Free Two Year College Option. Lumina Foundation. (2014)

Goldrick-Rab, S., Broton, K. & Frank, V. Single Stop USA’s Community College Initiative: Implementation Assessment. Wisconsin HOPE Lab, Madison WI. (2014).

Goldrick-Rab, S. Increasing the Impact of Student Financial Aid: Three Recommendations for Financial Aid Administrators. HCM Strategists, Washington, DC. (2013).

Goldrick-Rab, S. & Kelchen, R. No Money Left Behind: Loan Aversion and College Success among Pell Recipients. HCM Strategists, Washington, DC. (2013).

Broton, K. & Goldrick-Rab, S. Housing Instability and College Students. Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education and Center for Financial Security. Madison, WI. (2013).

Goldrick-Rab, S. “Pay It Forward” or “Pay It Yourself?” The Century Foundation, NY.

Goldrick-Rab, S., Broton, K., & Gates, C. Clearing the Path to a Brighter Future: Addressing Barriers to Community College Access and Success. Association of Community College Trustees, Washington DC. (2013).

Goldrick-Rab, S. et al. Report on Composition of Ideal First-Year Class at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Committee on Undergraduate Recruitment, Admissions, and Financial Aid. UW-Madison. (2013).

Hillman, N., Kelchen, R. & Goldrick-Rab, S. Recommendations for the Effective and Equitable Implementation of Performance-Based Funding for Wisconsin Higher Education. Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education, Madison WI. (2013).

Goldrick-Rab, S. Pell Grants are America’s Investment in Needy Yet Promising College Students— Why Not Tell Them? Scholars Strategy Network, Harvard University. August. (2012).

Goldrick-Rab, S., and Harris, D. Higher Education in Wisconsin: A 21st Century Status Report. Wisconsin Covenant Foundation, Madison WI. (2011).

Goldrick-Rab, S. and Harris, D. Observations on the use of NSC data for research purposes. White paper. The Spencer Foundation: Chicago IL. (2010).

Goldrick-Rab, S., Harris, D., Mazzeo, C., & Kienzl, G. "Transforming America’s Community Colleges: A Proposal to Expand Opportunity and Promote Economic Prosperity." Blueprint for American Prosperity. The Brookings Institution: Washington, DC. (2009).

Goldrick-Rab, S. “The Stimulus and Poverty: Community Colleges Need More Support.” Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity. Washington, DC. (2009).

Goldrick-Rab, S. Putting Community Colleges First. La Follette Policy Report. Fall,p.8-11. (2009).

Carl, B., Goldrick-Rab, S., Lexmond, M. & Lindsey, D. Tracking Postsecondary Enrollment and Persistence of Milwaukee Public School Students: Graduates of the Classes of 2005-2007. Milwaukee Public Schools Research Report, March. (2009).

Goldrick-Rab, S. & Roksa, J. A Federal Agenda for Promoting Student Success and Degree Completion. Center for American Progress: Washington, DC. (2008).

Goldrick-Rab, S. & Harris, D. The Wisconsin Covenant: Toward a Truly Merit-Based System of Higher Education. Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education: Madison, WI. (2007).

Goldrick-Rab, S. "Connecting College Access with Success." Wisconsin School News. Wisconsin School Boards Association. September. pp. 26-27. (2005).

Peer Reviewed Articles

Goldrick-Rab, S. & Kolbe, T. "A Matter of Trust: Applying Insights From Social Psychology to Make College Affordable." Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences. (2016). 
Broton, K., Goldrick-Rab, S. & Benson, J. "Working for College: The Causal Impacts of Financial Grants on Undergraduate Employment." Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. (2016). 
Broton, K. & Goldrick-Rab, S. "The Dark Side of College (Un)Affordability: Food and Housing Insecurity in Higher Education." Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning. (2016).
Goldrick-Rab, S., Kelchen, R., Harris, D., & Benson, J. “Reducing Income Inequality in Higher Education: Experimental Evidence on the Impact of Financial Aid on College Completion.” American Journal of Sociology. (2016).
Kelchen, R. & Goldrick-Rab, S. “Accelerating College Knowledge: A Fiscal Analysis of a Targeted Early Commitment Pell Grant Program.” Journal of Higher Education, 86(2): 199-232. (2015).
Brand, J., & Pfeffer, F. & Goldrick-Rab, S.“Interpreting Community College Effects in the Presence of Heterogeneity and Complex Counterfactuals.” Sociological Science. (2014).
Schudde, L. & Goldrick-Rab, S. “On Second Chances and Stratification: How Sociologists Think About Community Colleges.” Community College Review. (2014).
Harris, D.N. & Goldrick-Rab, S. “Improving the Productivity of Education Experiments: Lessons from a Randomized Study of Need-Based Financial Aid.” Educational Finance and Policy, 7(2); 143-169. (2012).
Goldrick-Rab, S. “Challenges and Opportunities for Improving Community College Student Outcomes.” Review of Educational Research. 80(3): 437-469. (2010).
Goldrick-Rab, S. & Sorensen, K. “Unmarried Parents in College.” Future of Children, v20(2): 179-203. (2010).
Goldrick-Rab, S. & Pfeffer, F. “Beyond Access: Explaining Social Class Differences in College Transfer.” Sociology of Education. 82(2), 101–125. (2009).
Goldrick-Rab, S. “What Higher Education Has to Say About the Transition to College.” Teachers College Record. Volume 109, Number 10: 2444-2481 (with contributions from D.F. Carter and R. Wagner). (2007).
Goldrick-Rab, S. “Following Their Every Move: How Social Class Shapes Postsecondary Pathways.” Sociology of Education. January, v79n1. pp. 61-79. (2006).
Shaw, K. & Goldrick-Rab, S. “Work-First Federal Policies: Eroding Access to Community Colleges for Latinos and Low-Income Populations.” New Directions in Community Colleges. Spring, n.133, pp.61- 70. (2006).
Goldrick-Rab, S. & Mazzeo, C. “What ‘No Child Left Behind’ Means for College Access.” Review of Research in Education. Winter, v29. pp. 107-130. (2005).
Goldrick-Rab, S. & Shaw, K. “Racial and Ethnic Differences in the Impact of Work-First Reforms on Access to Postsecondary Education.” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. Winter, 27(4), 291- 307. (2005).
Shaw, K. & Rab, S. “Market Rhetoric Versus Reality in Policy and Practice: The Workforce Investment Act and Access to Community College Education and Training.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. v586, March, 172-193. (2003).
Mazzeo, C., Rab, S., & Eachus, S. “Work-First or Work Only: Welfare Reform, State Policy and Access to Postsecondary Education.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. v586, March, 144-171. (2003).