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Separating Fact from Fiction in Higher Education

Higher education has emerged as a national issue amid rising public concerns about college affordability and increasing student debt loads. The Obama administration has taken steps to push forward new policies, and the presidential candidates are taking varied views, but policymakers, the media, and the public cannot always distinguish hype from reality. A growing body of research dispels many popular beliefs about higher education but points to equally troubling but less well-understood trends.

During this panel discussion hosted by the Urban Institute in collaboration with Ithaka S+R, Michael McPherson, economist, former president of Macalester College, and coauthor of Lesson Plan: An Agenda for Change in American Higher Education, published by Princeton University Press, provided a candid diagnosis of higher education’s biggest challenges. A distinguished panel of experts discussed the evidence regarding what ails higher education and what federal and local government, colleges and universities, and the public can do about it.

Speakers IncludeD

  • Matthew M. Chingos, senior fellow, Urban Institute
  • Jessica Howell, executive director of policy research, College Board
  • Michael S. McPherson, president, Spencer Foundation
  • Edward Montgomery, dean, McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University
  • Libby Nelson, education reporter, Vox (moderator)
event materials 


This event has been organized in collaboration with: 

For inquiries regarding this event, please contact [email protected].


Date & Time Thursday, April 21, 2016
Urban Institute 2100 M Street NW
5th floor
Washington , DC , 20037
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  • Vice President, Education Data and Policy
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