Join Us in Helping to End the Student Debt Crisis

Professor Jonathan Glater, Professor Dalié Jiménez, Rebecca Maurer


Topping $1.6 trillion, America’s outstanding student loan debt has surpassed credit cards and auto loans, becoming the second-largest category of consumer debt behind mortgages. Yet, we still know relatively little about the effect of student loans on individuals, communities, states, and our country as a whole.

While there has been robust support for researchers to explore and better understand the role that mortgages, credit cards and other consumer financial products in the finances of American families, foundational research on student loans is still lacking. Basic questions remain unanswered. For instance:  What was the effect of the various income-driven repayment (IDR) plans on student borrowers’ financial health and spending habits? Do borrowers enrolled in IDR have different credit profiles than those who aren’t? What is the impact of student debt and student loan delinquencies on communities, including lost household wealth and cost to local governments? What student loan repayment patterns predict borrower distress or student loan defaults?

Without answers to these and other questions, policymakers and advocates lack critical information for tackling the student debt crisis.

To help move the needle, today, the Student Loan Law Initiative, a partnership of the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) and the University of California, Irvine School of Law (UCI Law), is launching a new grants program to support researchers who want to begin tackling these questions. The Student Loan Research Grants program will offer grants of up to $15,000 to interested researchers, academics, or other experts to conduct foundational research on the effects of student debt on consumers’ financial lives and their communities. The SBPC and UCI Law are seeking applicants from a wide range of fields including law, higher education, economics, and sociology.

This project is part of the Student Loan Law Initiative’s ongoing effort to arm policymakers, legislators, and advocates with the best information possible to find solutions to the student debt crisis.

SLLI Acquires New Datasets to Support this Critical Research

SBPC and UC Irvine have acquired two proprietary datasets and will give preference to researchers that incorporate use of these datasets in their research proposal:

  • The University of California Consumer Credit Panel (UCCCP) is a longitudinal dataset of anonymized consumer credit information from one of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies. It contains tradeline information for approximately 40 million consumers from 2004-2019. This includes a nationally representative 1 percent sample of U.S. adult consumers with credit records and a 100 percent sample of consumers residing in California.
  • The Student Loan Servicer Historical Dataset is comprised of anonymized student loan-level records from a large servicer that has spent decades handling federal loans.

If you are interested in applying for a research grant, you can find more information here about the program and application here. The program is accepting rolling applications through April 1, 2020. If you have any questions about the grants program or the datasets, please email

[Update 3/25/2020: In response to the difficulties faced by universities and researchers due to COVID-19, the application deadline has been extended to May 1, 2020.]

Contact Us

Rabie Kadri
Law Centers Manager
(949) 824-2370

Twitter: @UCILawSLLI