Past Member

Paul Attewell

Leon Levy Foundation Member


Social Science

Field of Study

75% of America's undergraduates are non-traditional or working students. Yet research on higher education focuses the lion's share of attention on the remainder who are full time students, dependent on their parents for support. This project focuses on the role of the state in developing an institutional and policy environment that stratifies the college student population and creates the conditions that foster discontinuous enrollment, elongated time to the completion of degrees, and high levels of debt among the nontraditional majority of the country's college students. Combining statistical analyses of large data sets with in-depth interviews of nontraditional undergraduates, it develops a perspective on state policy in higher education both as a gatekeeper and as a facilitator of social mobility in American society. It reframes the typical careers of working students -- from high rates of stopping out, to frequent shifts in major or institution, and delayed time to degree -- as rational adaptations to government policies and institutional practices in a particular economic context.

Dates at IAS

School of Social Science


University of California, San