Perna

Laura W. Perna

James S. Riepe Professor of Education, University of Pennsylvania
Areas of Expertise:
  • American Democracy
  • Inequality & the Middle Class
  • Training Programs
  • Higher Education

About Laura

Perna’s work focuses on understanding and identifying how social structures, educational practices, and public policies can promote college access and attainment, particularly for groups that continue to be underrepresented in higher education. Of particular interest are policies that influence college affordability, academic preparation for college, and equity in the opportunity to enroll and complete college. Perna has served as President of the Association for the Study of Higher Education, Vice President of the Postsecondary Division of the American Education Research Association, and Chair of the Faculty Senate at the University of Pennsylvania.

Podcast

Publications

Understanding the Working College Student: New Research and its Implications for Policy and Practice (Stylus Publishing, LLC, 2010).

Provides a multi-faceted picture of the characteristics, experiences, and challenges of working college students and identifies implications of working for undergraduate students’ educational experiences and outcomes.

The State of College Access and Completion: Improving College Success for Students from Underrepresented Groups (with Anthony Jones) (Routledge, 2013).

Draws together leading researchers to summarize the state of college access and success and provide recommendations for how institutional leaders and policymakers can effectively improve college access and completion. 

"Promoting Human Capital Development: A Typology of International Scholarship Programs in Higher Education" (with Kata Orosz, Bryan Gopaul, Zakir Jumakulov, Adil Ashirbekov, and Marina Kishkentayeva). Educational Researcher 43 (2014): 63-73.

Sheds light on the availability and characteristics of international scholarship programs that are sponsored by national and federal governments worldwide and that are intended to promote student mobility and offers a framework for organizing the population of these programs.

The Attainment Agenda: State Policy Leadership in Higher Education (with Joni Finney) (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014).

Draws on data collected from case studies of the relationship between public policy and higher education performance in five states to offer a framework for understanding how state public policy can effectively promote higher education attainment.

"Understanding Student Debt: Implications for Federal Policy and Future Research" (with James Kvaal and Roman Ruiz). The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 671 (2017): 270-286.

Reflects on major themes that emerge from the studies presented in this volume and identifies implications for federal policy and future research.

In the News

Laura W. Perna quoted on using research to advocate for social change in Mary Beth Marklein, "Scholars Look for Ways to Restore Respect for Expertise" University World News, April 21, 2018.
"Can College "Promise" Programs Deliver?," Laura W. Perna (with Edward J. Smith and Elaine W. Leigh), The Conversation, December 12, 2017.
Guest to discuss How Ending Tax-Free Tuition Waivers Could Impact U.S. Higher Ed on [email protected], Laura W. Perna, December 6, 2017.
"Five Tax Changes that Will Hurt U.S. Higher Education," Laura W. Perna, Medium, December 6, 2017.
"Why State Leadership Matters for Improving Access to Higher Education," Laura W. Perna (with Joni Finney), Inside Sources, July 27, 2014.
"Keeping the National Center for Education Statistics Independent," Laura W. Perna, The Hill, August 28, 2014.
"Improving Equity in Higher Education Attainment is Imperative," Laura W. Perna, The Hill, February 11, 2015.
Guest to discuss Implications of the Closure of ITT on [email protected] with Dan Loney, Laura W. Perna, September 8, 2016.
Guest to discuss Presidential Candidates’ Plans for Student Debt on [email protected] with Dan Loney, Laura W. Perna, November 3, 2016.
Guest to discuss The African ‘Brain Drain’ Conundrum on Voice of America, Laura W. Perna, November 29, 2016.
"College Promise Programs: Designing Programs to Achieve the Promise ," Laura W. Perna (with Elaine Leigh), Higher Education Today, February 13, 2017.