Student Loan Law Initiative Launches New Round of Funding for Groundbreaking Research, New Platform for Emerging Scholars to End the Student Debt Crisis

Partnership between the University of California and the Student Borrower Protection Center offers grants of up to $15,000 to researchers across a range of fields, creates a first-of-its-kind program to elevate the next generation of student debt scholars

October 28, 2022 | Washington, DC — Today, the Student Loan Law Initiative (SLLI), the nation’s first academic center focused solely on studying student debt and the law, is announcing a new round of grant funding to support researchers interested in tackling the most pressing issues at the center of the student debt crisis. For the first time in more than two years, the Student Loan Research Grants program will offer awards of up to $15,000 to interested researchers, academics, and other experts across disciplines to conduct foundational scholarship on the student debt crisis and its widespread effects on borrowers, their communities, and the nation. 

In addition, SLLI is announcing today the creation of an Emerging Scholars program that will offer financial support of up to $5,000 and access to other key resources to graduate students and recent graduates in a range of fields who are interested in conducting novel student loan research. This research will lead the conversation on student debt and help drive policy across levels of government, all while laying the groundwork for tomorrow’s student loan thought leaders.

Both Student Loan Research Grant awardees and Emerging Scholars will have access to two proprietary datasets, and SLLI will give preference to researchers that incorporate the use of these datasets in their research proposals:

  • 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 on. This includes a nationally representative 2 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 consists of anonymized student loan-level records from a large servicer that has spent decades handling federal loans.

More information on how to apply for SLLI’s new opportunities is available below. Those with questions about any aspect of the Student Loan Research Grants or the Emerging Scholars program should contact

Student Loan Research Grants

America’s more than $1.7 trillion student debt burden amounts to a crisis for tens of millions of borrowers, their families, and the country as a whole. But there remains startlingly little research on student loan debt and its effects.

To break through this uncertainty and provide policymakers and advocates the foundational information they need to end the student debt crisis, SLLI launched the Student Loan Research Grants program in 2020. The first round of grants was awarded in August 2020 to a slate of six projects featuring leading thinkers, academics, and borrowers champions across legal, sociological, economic, and other disciplines. A list of past grantees and their research projects is available here.

Now, SLLI is seeking applicants for the next round of Student Loan Research Grants. These grants will consist of awards of up to $15,000 for interested researchers, academics, or other experts to conduct foundational research on the effects of student debt on consumers’ financial lives and their communities. Grantees will produce at least one piece of original research providing empirical evidence for those seeking to help borrowers struggling under the weight of rising and unprecedented student debt. 

Those interested in applying for a research grant can find information about how to apply here. The program is accepting rolling applications through January 15, 2023. If you have any questions about the grants program or the datasets, please email

Emerging Scholars

To combat the student debt crisis, America will need a deep bench of thinkers committed to investigating core questions about student loans and their consequences. To meet this need, SLLI’s Emerging Scholars program aims to support and elevate the research of young academics who are interested in working on issues related to student loan debt and the student debt crisis. 

Emerging Scholars will enjoy unique access to student loan policy experts at the SBPC and beyond, as well as access to the proprietary datasets cited above. In addition, Emerging Scholars will be eligible for grant awards of up to $5,000, as determined on a case-by-case basis.

Using these resources, Emerging Scholars will produce the following over the course of 1-2 academic years:

  • At least one academic paper that can be submitted to a journal and/or used on the academic job market;
  • At least one presentation of the academic paper; and
  • Periodic blog posts and/or issue briefs and memoranda intended for a public audience and/or policymakers regarding student loan debt, as determined in collaboration with SBPC staff.

Emerging Scholars need not be quantitative empiricists, and may instead work in fields such as legal research. However, they must be in or have recently graduated from a graduate program such as a JD or PhD program. More information on the Emerging Scholars program is available here.

Applications for the Emerging Scholars program are rolling, and there is no deadline or cycle for applications. To be considered for this program, applicants should submit a brief (1-page maximum) introduction and research agenda to This introduction should include a brief statement on the application’s educational and research background, the main focus areas and research questions they hope to answer through this opportunity, and how this research connects to existing research or policy conversations and debates. Applicants should also submit a CV or resume. 

For any questions or more information, please contact