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Research Spotlight: Dennis Kramer

Dennis Kramer

What basic questions does your research seek to answer?

On a macro level, I am interested in the economics and polices of higher education and their impacts on student success and institutional decision-making. Specifically, I currently have three broad themes to my research: (1) the spillover effects between K-12 and higher education policies; (2) the impact of financial aid and budget policies on both students and institutions; and (3) the antecedents and outcomes of higher education policy at the state level and the study of governmental regulation within higher education.

What makes your work interesting?

Historically, I have approached my work quantitatively, leveraging large administrative or secondary datasets to answer complex policy-related questions. This work has included using a number of the quasi-experimental and econometric strategies to produce rigorous research. Recently, my research has begun to leverage field experiments and the collection of primary data. This approach allows me to investigate how information or “behavioral nudges” can impact student decision-making.

What are you currently working on?

I currently have three (3) large projects. The first is a collaboration with colleagues both at UF and other leading institutions to examine the role of no-loan programs on students’ decision-making and academic success. This project focuses specifically on the role of student loans/debt on first-generation college students—an area that is under researched. A portion of this work is in collaboration with Dr. Justin Ortagus and funded by the Association for Institutional Research.

The second project examines the role of the community college baccalaureate policy adoption on both associate degree production and interinstitutional competition. This project examines a developing policy within the two-year sector and the potential mission expansion of community colleges. Additionally, we will examine the potential competition (or lack thereof) between the two- and four-year institutions after community college are provided the authority to grant baccalaureate degrees.

The final project examines institutional and legislative pricing strategies in response to the adoption of merit-aid programs (i.e., Florida’s Bright Futures scholarship program). Specifically, we are examining the role of institutional autonomy and program subsidies on the incentives created and changes in tuition and fee levels after a state implements merit-aid programs.