Professor of Public Policy, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, Professor of Education, School of Education, and Professor of Economics, University of Michigan; Non-Resident Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution; and Faculty Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research
735 S. State St. #5132
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Areas of Expertise & Civic InvolvementsDynarski teaches economics, statistics and education policy at the University of Michigan, where her research focuses on college costs, charter schools, inequality and financial aid for college. She is a nationally recognized expert, ranking among the top ten most influential economists working on education policy. She is frequently quoted in news outlets such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. She has testified about education and tax policy before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee and the President's Commission on Tax Reform.
"Loans for Educational Opportunity: Making Borrowing Work for Today’s Students," (with Daniel Kreisman), The Hamilton Project, September 30, 2013.
Proposes a better model of loan repayment: a single, simple, income-based repayment system called Loans for Educational Opportunity (LEO) would replace the current, bewildering array of repayment options.
"Financial Aid Policy: Lessons from Research" (with Judith Scott-Clayton). Future of Children (May 2013).
Reviews what is known and not known about the efficacy of various student aid programs; shows that, which lowering costs can improve college access, the complexity of program requirements and applications can reduce access to the funding that would improve college completion rates.
"Simplifying Tax Incentives and Aid for College: Progress and Prospects" (with Judith Scott-Clayton and Mark Wiederspan). Tax Policy and the Economy (2013).
Argues that most of the data items in the federal aid application do not affect the distribution of aid, and that the much shorter set of variables available in IRS data could be used to closely replicate the existing distribution of aid. Provides a five-year retrospective of what has changed in the aid process since this argument has been presented to Congress and the U.S. Department of Education, and discusses shortfalls and possible future reforms.
"Experimental Evidence on the Effect of Childhood Investments on Postsecondary Attainment and Degree Completion" (with Joshua Hyman and Diane Schanzenbach). Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 32, no. 4 (2013): 692-717.
Uses the random assignment in the Project STAR experiment to estimate the effect of smaller classes in primary school on college entry, college choice, and degree completion; finds that assignment to a small class increases the probability of attending college by 2.7 percentage points.
"Building the Stock of College-Educated Labor" Journal of Human Resources 43, no. 3 (2008): 576-610.
Establishes a causal link between college costs and the share of workers with a college education, finding that tuition subsidy programs have increased the share of the population that completes a college degree.
"Raising College Enrollment" Milken Institute Review 10, no. 3 (2008): 37-45.
Recommends changes to the federal student aid system that would increase college enrollment and remove barriers to enrollment for otherwise qualified students, such as revising daunting FAFSA requirements.
"College Grants on a Postcard: A Proposal for Simple and Predictable Federal Student Aid," (with Judith Scott-Clayton), The Hamilton Project, January 31, 2007.
Calls for a drastic simplification of the current system of educational grants and tax incentives that would combine Pell Grants and the Hope and Lifetime Learning tax credits for undergraduates into a single, streamlined grant administered through the Department of Education, using information already collected by the Internal Revenue Service.
"The Cost of Complexity in Federal Student Aid: Lessons from Optimal Tax Theory and Behavioral Economics" (with Judith Scott-Clayton). National Tax Journal 59, no. 2 (2006).
Describes the complexity of the aid system, and applies lessons from optimal tax theory and behavioral economics to show that complexity is a serious obstacle to both efficiency and equity in the distribution of student aid; uses detailed data from federal student aid applications to show that a radically simplified aid process can reproduce the current distribution of aid using a fraction of the information now collected.
Susan Dynarski's research on home-buying trends for millenials with student debt discussed in Gail Marks Jarvis, "Research Debunks Notion That Debt-Laden Grads Won't be Buying Homes," Chicago Tribune, May 13, 2016.
Susan Dynarski quoted on low wages and the repayment options available to those who have a lower income in Maggie McGrath, "The Best Way to Fix the Student Debt Crisis (and It's Not Free Tuition)" Forbes, January 7, 2016.