Restructuring Student Loans Conference

While co-director of the Education Policy Initiative, Susan Dynarski convened an international comparative conference to provide policymakers, analysts and press with cross-national perspectives on student debt and repayment. We convened leading international and domestic experts to discuss options to improve US student loan policies. The goal was to enrich the US conversation around student loans with perspectives on how other countries structure aid, borrowing and repayment.

The countries represented have a wide range of loan and financial aid models. We heard from international loan experts Bruce Chapman, the architect of the Australian student loan program; Nicholas Barr, one of the primary architects of England’s 2006 student loan reforms; Lorraine Dearden, research fellow at the London-based Institute for Fiscal Studies; Christina Forsberg, director general at CSN, the Swedish Board for Study Support; and Achim Meyer Auf Der Heyde, secretary-general of Germany’s National Association for Student Affairs – DSW.

The international session was followed by a discussion with US-based student loan experts, who explored how international insights could be applied to the US setting. Panelists included Matthew Chingos, senior fellow at the Urban Institute; Rohit Chopra, former student loan ombudsman and special adviser to the US Department of Education; Jason Delisle, director of the Federal Education Budget Project at New America Foundation; Susan Dynarski, professor of education, public policy, and economics at the University of Michigan; and Kevin James of the Jain Family Institute.

Held on Capitol Hill in the Rayburn Office Building, conference attendees spanned policy makers, legislative staff, education researchers, academics and press.

Conference Program

Conference Presentations and Publications

Nicolas Barr. Financing higher education: Principles and an Outline of the Story in England.

Bruce Chapman. Income Contingent Loans: Australian Experience, the Importance of ICL as an Insurance Instrument, Repayment Burdens and Administration Issues.

Lorraine Dearden. HE Finance: Lessons from the UK.

Christina Forsberg. CSN - We Help Students Fulfill their Dreams.

Achim Meyer auf der Hyde. Study Financing and Student Loans in Germany.

Comparative Student Loan Table

Post-Conference Policy Brief. Nicholas Barr, Bruce Chapman, Lorraine Dearden, Susan Dynarski. 2017. "Getting Student Financing Right in the US: Lessons from Australia and England." University College, London Working Paper.

Related Student Loan Publications


Bruce Chapman, Tim Higgins and Joseph E. Stiglitz (2014) "Income Contingent Loans: Background," in (eds.), Income Contingent Loans: Theory, practice and prospects, Palgrave McMillan, New York: 12-29.

Bruce Chapman (2013), "Reinventing Student Loans: Paying What You Can," Solutions, Vol. 4 (5) (September/October) 48-56.

Bruce Chapman and Yael Shavit (2010). "A better way to borrow," Inside Higher Ed, June 8, 2010.

Bruce Chapman (2008). “The US college loan system looks odd from down under,” Harvard College Economics Review, Winter 2008, Vol II, Issue 1.


Papers, Reports & Briefs

Nicholas Barr (2015). “Is lowering the fees cap the right policy?” London School of Economics, April 21, 2015.

Jack Britton, Claire Crawford and Lorraine Dearden (2015). “Analysis of the higher education funding reforms announced in Summer Budget 2015.” IFS Briefing Note 174.

Nicholas Barr (2014). “Ensuring access to university education without breaking the bank,” London School of Economics, 2014.

Description of how research influenced policies for higher education finance in England, Hungary and the EU.

Johnston and Barr (2013). Student loan reform, interest subsidies and costly technicalities: lessons from the UK experience,” Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 2013, Vol. 35. No. 2, pp. 166-177.

Nicholas Barr (2012). “The Higher Education White Paper: The good, the bad, the unspeakable – and the next White Paper,” Social Policy and Administration, Vol. 46, No. 5, October 2012, pp. 483–508.

Nicholas Barr (2012). “The 2012 Report Reforms of Higher Education Finance in England,” CESifo DICE Report, February 2012.

Haroon Chowdry, Lorraine Dearden, Alissa Goodman and Wenchao Jin (2012). “The Distributional Impact of the 2012 Higher Education Funding Reforms in England,” Fiscal Studies, Vol. 33, No. 2.

Lorraine Dearden, E. Fitzsimons, A. Goodman and G. Kaplan (2008) “Higher Education Funding Reforms in England: The Distributional Effects and the Shifting Balance of Costs,” Economic Journal 118(526): F100–F125.


Nicholas Barr (2015). “University fees: how to structure a system that benefits poor students,” The Conversation, 23 October 2015.

England, continued

Nicholas Barr (2011). “Government student loan explanations ‘woeful’,” MoneySavingExpert Guest Comment, 29 July 2011.

Nicholas Barr (2010). “Interest subsidies on student loans are the root of all evil,” The Independent, 25 March 2010.


Achim Meyer Auf Der Heyde (2016). "Restructuring Student Loans: Lessons from Abroad - Study financing in Germany," Deutches Studentwerk, June 2016.

Achim Meyer Auf Der Heyde (2016). “Students’ resources in Germany – especially public funding.” Deutches Studentwerk presentation, 03 June 2015.

Achim Meyer Auf Der Heyde (2015). “The Studentenwerke in Germany – services for students in higher education.” Korea Student Aid Foundation presentation, 06 March 2015.


Christina Forsberg (2016). “Swedish student financial support,” CSN Report, June 2016.

Christina Forsberg (2016). “Repayment of student loans,” CSN Abstract, June 2016.

Christina Forsberg (2016). “The Swedish education system – higher education,” CSN Abstract, June 2016.

Christina Forsberg (2016). “The Swedish student financial support,” CSN Abstract, June 2016.

Christina Forsberg (2016). “Necessities and future challenges of student aid systems,” CSN Abstract, June 2016.

United States

Papers, Reports & Briefs

Susan M. Dynarski (2016). “How to – and not to – manage student debt.” The Milken Institute Review, Second Quarter 2016 issue, May 2016.

Susan M. Dynarski and Judith Scott-Clayton (2016). “Tax benefits for college attendance,” Education Policy Initiative Working Paper Series, 2016.

Matthew M. Chingos (2016). “Who would benefit most from free college?” Brookings Evidence Speaks, 2016.

Matthew M. Chingos (2016). “Jeb Bush's student loan plan should outlive his campaign,” Brookings Evidence Speaks, 2016.

Susan M. Dynarski (2014). “An economist’s perspective on student loans,” Brookings Economic Series, 2014.

Beth Akers and Matthew M. Chingos (2014). “Is a student loan crisis on the horizon?” Brookings, 2014.

United States, continued

Susan M. Dynarski, Mark Wiederspan (2015). "Revisiting FAFSA Simplification: Expanding Access to the IRS Data Retrieval Tool," Education Policy Initiative Policy Brief, 2015.

EdCentr.AL (2015). “Promise and compromise: A closer look at payroll withholding for federal student loans,” New America Foundation, Young Invincibles and National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, October 2015.

Kevin J. James (2015). “Fixing student-loan repayment,” National Affairs, Issue 25, Fall 2015.

Kevin J. James, Andrew P. Kelly (2015). “Balancing risk and responsibility: Reforming student loan repayment,” American Enterprise Institute, November 19, 2015.

Jason Delisle (2014). “The Hidden Student-Debt Bomb,” The Wall Street Journal, December 30, 2014.

Susan M. Dynarski, Daniel Kreisman (2013). "Loans for Educational Opportunity: Making Borrowing Work for Today’s Students," Brookings, 2013.

Jason Delisle and Alex Holt (2012). “Safety net or windfall? Examining changes to income-based repayment for federal student loans,” New America Foundation, October 2012.


Susan M. Dynarski (2016). “The dividing line between haves and have-nots in home ownership: Education, not student debt.” Brookings Evidence Speaks, May 4, 2016.

Susan M. Dynarski (2016). “The trouble with student loans? Low earnings, not high debt,” Brookings Evidence Speaks, January 2016.

Susan M. Dynarski (2015). “Why students with smallest debts have the larger problem,” New York Times Upshot, August 31, 2015.

Matthew M. Chingos (2014). “Why student loan rhetoric doesn’t match the facts.” Brookings Brown Center Chalkboard Series, 2014.

Susan M. Dynarski (2016). “What does cutting interest rates do?” Brookings Evidence Speaks, April 14, 2016.

Matthew M. Chingos (2015). “End government profits on student loans: Shift risk and lower interest rates,” Brookings Brown Center Chalkboard Series, 2015.

Kevin J. James (2015). “Lowering interest rates isn’t the answer,” U.S. News & World Report, March 24, 2015.


Rohit Chopra and Susan M. Dynarski (2016). “Is there a student debt crisis? A discussion with Rohit Chopra and Susan M. Dynarski,” Education Policy Initiative public talk. March 27, 2016.

Susan M. Dynarski (2015). “Why financial aid is broken and a simple solution to fix it,” TEDx Indianapolis, 2015.