Tax Policy Center



Sandy Baum

Senior Fellow

I came to higher education finance from a broad interest in public policy, equity, and the distribution of income. College access is a critical part of this field, and both practitioners and policymakers are eager for analytical insights and evidence to strengthen their work. We have made a lot of progress in increasing access to postsecondary education, but we have a long way to go in diminishing how often family background influences where people end up in the educational and socioeconomic hierarchies. I look forward to continuing my work in this vital area of public policy at Urban.

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Sandy Baum is a senior fellow in the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute and professor emerita of economics at Skidmore College. An expert on higher education finance, she speaks and writes extensively about issues relating to college access, college pricing, student aid policy, student debt, and affordability.

Since 2002, Baum has coauthored the College Board’s annual publications Trends in Student Aid and rends in College Pricing. She is a member of the board of the National Student Clearinghouse and has chaired major study groups through the College Board and the Brookings Institution, developing proposals for reforming federal and state student aid. Baum’s articles on higher education finance have been published in professional journals, books, and the trade press. Her recent work includes studies of how behavioral economics can inform student aid policy, a meaningful definition of college affordability, tuition and financial aid strategies for broad access public institutions, and the National Science Foundation–funded Educational Attainment: Understanding the Data Baum’s book Student Debt: Rhetoric and Realities of Higher Education Financing was published by Palgrave-Macmillan in 2016.

Baum earned her BA in sociology from Bryn Mawr College, where she serves on the board of trustees, and earned her PhD in economics from Columbia University.

From TaxVox