Ray Boshara, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Moderator: The Future of Student Loans and Financing Higher Education

NOVEMBER 18, 2013

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view the conference agenda and presentation slides »

   Julie Stackhouse, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (4:20)

   Rohit Chopra, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (30:08)
   Keynote Q&A (8:06)
   Interview with Rohit Chopra (6:40)

Resources for Managing Student Loans
   Introductions (2:12)
   Paul Combe, American Student Assistance (7:02)
   Interview with Paul Combe (12:58)
   Vicki Jacobson, Center for Excellence in Financial Counseling (5:46)
   Marilyn Landrum, Missouri Department of Higher Education (3:58)

Resources for Economics and Personal Finance
   Mary C. Suiter, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (3:10)

Research Panel:
What We Know About Student Loans in the Eighth District and Nationwide
   MODERATOR: William R. Emmons, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (4:14)
   Bryan J. Noeth, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (13:53)
   Kelly D. Edmiston, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City (9:17)
   Caroline Ratcliffe, Urban Institute (14:22)
   Research Panel Discussion (35:46)

The Future of Student Loans and Financing Higher Education
now playing  MODERATOR: Ray Boshara, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (7:32)
   Sandy Baum, Urban Institute and George Washington University (11:06)
   Interview with Sandy Baum (7:23)
   William Elliott III, University of Kansas (13:12)
   Jen Mishory, Young Invincibles (8:37)
   Interview with Jen Mishory (8:01)
   Gary A. Ransdell, Western Kentucky University (11:35)
   Roundtable Discussion (40:21)


Below is a full transcript of this video presentation. It has not been edited or reviewed for accuracy or readability.

Ray Boshara: Okay. We’ve got everybody here. Great. I’m Ray Boshara. I direct the Center for Household Financial Stability here at the St. Louis Fed. And first and foremost want to thank all of you for joining us today. It’s great to see a packed room. I also want to recognize Julie Stackhouse, my mentor and boss, who without her leadership there would be no Center for Household Financial Stability here at the St. Louis Fed. Thank you, Julie. We really appreciate the opportunity to do this work here.

Many of you know I was in Washington for 20 years doing policy work. And never imagined myself in St. Louis heading up a research center so disconnected from DC. But thankfully I think the center is generating results that are of interest to policy makers. So I’m fortunate enough to stay connected. So, really appreciate that. And I’m also really happy to see so many new faces here in the Fed as well. It’s great to expand our reach and hopefully you’re finding today’s session valuable.

And finally by way of intro, I just want to recognize our co-sponsor and frequent partner, the Center for Social Development, Michal Grinstein-Weiss and her team. If you can all raise your hands. And be sure to talk to them about their great research here. We have a little hub of asset building balance sheet work going on here in St. Louis. And we’re always eager to expand that. So, it’s great to be working in partnership with them.

So, I think Rohed’s [phonetic 00:01:46] keynote and then the research panel I think gave us a great foundation of facts about what’s going on with student loans and student debts in the U.S. You know, where are the real issues? Where are the challenges? What are the opportunities? What were some of the myths that were dispelled? I think they did a fabulous job in kind of setting the record straight. And our challenge here is to think a little more about the future. We’ll hear a little bit more, some descriptions of the problem to the extent that our panelists need to make their points about how to think differently about both student loans and more generally about how we finance higher education in the U.S.

Thinking about future and policy is not just an abstract thing. Congress, as many of you know is going to be reauthorizing what’s called a Higher Education Act which expires at the end of this year. Whether or not congress can get its act together to do that is another question. But on the good faith assumption that they will come together and think hard about how we finance higher education and what the role of student loans in that is, there’s a real opportunity in front of us as well, certainly at the national level and of course in states as well.

When I think about public policy I think about risk. Risk management. Who bears the risks? And I think that’s an essential question in all public policy is risk management. You know, how much of it is privatized? And is it born by the individual? And how much of it do we socialize? How much does society, you know, bear the risk? And all of our social policies sort of think about risk management in that way. And I think the trend has been that more and more of the risk has shifted onto the individual. But it’s not clear that that’s necessarily warranted given that many of the benefits of higher education accrue to the whole nation as well. And so I think that’s kind of a core policy challenge, at least in the way that I think about it.

So, to think about the future and think about policy we have four fabulous panelists here today. Two leading academics in this space, a representative of the generation most affected by student loans; 18 to 34 year olds, and a University President. So, I’m thrilled that this panel came together the way it did. Let me introduce them all right now. They will speak. And then we will have a facilitated discussion that will include all of us.

So, beginning with Sandy Baum, those of you in the education field know Sandy Baum. She’s one of the premier academics in the country thinking about student loans and financing higher education. She’s co-authored many of the College Board reports that many of us rely on. And including trends in student aid and trends in college pricing. She’s now with the George Washington University in Washington DC and the Urban Institute.

Also with us today is William Elliott, III. Or, we call him Willie. Willie Elliott, III who is with the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas and is the founder of the Assets in Education Initiative. Willie is really a leader throughout the country in putting together, kind of, this agenda to build savings and assets with the education reform agenda. And his work has been cited nationally and is relied upon by policy makers. Especially his work around children’s savings accounts and helping kids prepare for college. Willie is a longtime colleague and partner of ours and we’re thrilled to have him on stage again. He was here in February as well.

Jen Mishory is with Young Invincibles; a name that I guess they borrowed from the insurance industry with tongue in cheek a little bit. And as I mentioned they’re primarily concerned with 18 to 34 year olds. Jobs, healthcare, and student loans are the three big issues that they are taking on from a generational perspective. She’s one of the founding members of Young Invincibles. And also serves on the consumer advisory board for the CFPB which I think had their inaugural meeting about a year ago here in St. Louis. And Jen also is, you cannot Google this issue without finding Jen’s name, whether it’s testifying before congress or advising leading policy makers. So, we’re thrilled to have you here as well, Jen.

And Gary Ransdell is President of Western Kentucky University which hails from the 8th District and is also a member of our Board of Directors in the Louisville branch of the St. Louis Fed. And Gary is very thoughtful, forward looking. He’s in the midst of taking a University based in Kentucky and turning it into a leading University which is attracting students from all over the world. And he’s succeeding on that front. And has thought a lot about what’s working with student loans and what’s not. And I think we’re thrilled to have his perspective on this panel as well.

So, I’ve asked each of them to speak for 10 to 12 minutes to get their initial thoughts on the table. There will be some slides. We’re going to try to focus a little more on discussion. And when each of them have put their initial thoughts on the table I will come back here and will moderate a discussion. And with that we’ve asked our two academics to go first. And we will lead with Sandy.

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