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Sandy Baum

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.


Sandy Baum is a senior fellow in the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute, a research professor at the George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development, and professor emerita of economics at Skidmore College. She has written and spoken extensively on college access, college pricing, student aid policy, student debt, affordability, and other aspects of higher education finance.

Baum has cowritten the College Board's annual publications Trends in Student Aid and Trends in College Pricing since 2002. She is also a coauthor of Education Pays: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society. Baum chaired the College Board's Rethinking Student Aid study group, which issued comprehensive proposals for reform of the federal student aid system in 2008, and the Rethinking Pell Grants study group, which issued recommendations in April 2013. She chaired a Brookings Institution study group that issued its report, Beyond Need and Merit: Strengthening State Grant Programs, in May 2012, and she is a member of the board of the National Student Clearinghouse.

Baum earned her BA in sociology at Bryn Mawr College, where she is currently a member of the board of trustees, and her PhD in economics at Columbia University.