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Nicholas Hillman

Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Chapter Member: Wisconsin SSN

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About Nicholas

Hillman’s research explores how states and the federal government finance college education, and how their financing policies affect educational opportunity. His teaching includes courses on higher education finance, the politics of higher education, and research methods. To engage his work with public policymaking, he has developed research partnerships with the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education, the Institute for Higher Education Policy, and the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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In the News

Nicholas Hillman quoted on inadequate financial aid for low-income students by Sarah Butrymowicz, "The Universities that Enroll More Poor Students Have Less Financial Aid to Give" The Hechinger Report, February 14, 2020.
Nicholas Hillman quoted on college funding by Randy Beach & Julie Bruno, "Why California’s New College Funding Formula is Bad for State’s Workforce" The San Diego Union-Tribune, May 16, 2018.
"‘Accountability and Opportunity in Higher Education’," Nicholas Hillman, Interview with Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, February 27, 2018.
Nicholas Hillman quoted on work hours by Pat Schneider, "UW Faculty Classroom Hours Don’t Tell the Whole Story, Professor Says" Cap Times, February 27, 2017.
Nicholas Hillman quoted by Madeline Heim, "UW-Madison Expert Talks Climbing Student Debt at Technical Schools" The Daily Cardinal, October 26, 2016.
Nicholas Hillman quoted on performance-based funding by Nico Savidge, "Experts Disagree on Value of 'Performance-Based' Funding Scott Walker Will Seek for UW" Wisconsin State Journal, August 27, 2016.
Nicholas Hillman quoted on Hillary Clinton’s promise of free college tuition by Pat Schneider, "Hillary Clinton’s Free College Tuition Plan Unlikely to Fly in Wisconsin" Cap Times, August 1, 2016.
Nicholas Hillman quoted on non-need-based financial aid policies by Xiani Zhong, "University Seeks to Increase Merit Aid, Expert Says It’s an ‘Arms Race’ for Enrollment" UW Badger Herald, February 29, 2016.
Nicholas Hillman quoted on the student debt crisis by Tim Stuhldreher, "Most Students Don't Travel Far for College, but Does That Matter? Yes, It Does, Researchers Say" Lancaster Online, February 4, 2016.
"Student Debt 101: Dearth of Data Fuels Common Misperceptions," Nicholas Hillman, The Conversation, May 21, 2015.
Nicholas Hillman quoted on University Mental Health Day by Chris Parr, "Do You Need an Emotional Well-Being Check?" Times Higher Education, February 26, 2015.
Nicholas Hillman quoted on whether performance funding models in higher education actually help increase college access and quality by Allie Bidwell, "Performance Funding Might Not Help Students" U.S. News and World Report, January 14, 2015.
Nicholas Hillman's research on the moderate success of performance-based funding policies discussed by Paul Fain, "Funding Formula Fracas," Inside Higher Ed, January 14, 2015.
Nicholas Hillman quoted on college default rates by David Gura, "Student Loan Default Rates Don't Tell the Whole Story" NPR's Marketplace, September 23, 2014.
Guest to discuss the President's plan to rank colleges on Wisconsin Public Radio, Nicholas Hillman, June 25, 2014.
Nicholas Hillman's research on performance funding discussed by Koran Addo and Alex Stuckey, "Paying Colleges for Performance: Good Policy or Passing Fad?," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 26, 2014.
Guest to discuss college costs on RadioWest, Nicholas Hillman, February 6, 2013.


"When to Begin? Socioeconomic and Racial/Ethnic Differences in Financial Planning, Preparing, and Saving for College" (with Melanie Gast and Casey George-Jackson). Teacher’s College Record (forthcoming).
Documents the extent of inequality that exists, and that exists very early in a child’s life, when families financially prepare for college.
"Cohort Default Rates: Predicting the Probability of Federal Sanctions" Educational Policy (2015).
Shows how strongly a college’s accreditation body and graduation rates are related to high default rates.
"Reforming Repayment: Using Income-Related Loans to Reduce Default" in Reinventing Financial Aid: Charting a New Course to College Affordability, edited by Andrew Kelly and Sara Goldrick-Rab (Harvard Education Press, 2014).
Examines the history and evolution of “income-based repayment” plans for federal student loans, outlining the shortcomings of this financing mechanism.
"College on Credit: A Multi-Level Analysis of Student Loan Default" Review of Higher Education 37, no. 2 (2014): 169-195.
Documents the important role institutions, particularly for-profit colleges, play in moderating student loan default.