Thomas Lee Harnisch

Adjunct Professor of Education, Georgetown University

About Thomas

Harnisch's research focuses on state and federal higher education policy, including issues related to finance, student success, and quality. Overarching themes in Harnisch's writings include the role of state and federal funding in college affordability, the regulatory triad, the role of institutional leadership, and advocacy strategies for advancing public higher education as a state priority. Harnisch serves on the IPEDS Technical Review Panel, the National Postsecondary Education Cooperative (NPEC), the Task Force on the SHEEO SHEF report, and other groups related to higher education policy.

In the News

Thomas Lee Harnisch quoted by Daniel C. Vock, "A Look at How Colleges Could Benefit From $3B in Coronavirus Aid for States" Education Dive, July 1, 2020.
Thomas Lee Harnisch quoted by Jason Gonzales, "FAFSA Requirement Hinders Colorado Colleges’ Ability to Distribute Coronavirus Relief Funds to Students" Chalkbeat, June 26, 2020.
Thomas Lee Harnisch quoted by Sophie Quinton, "COVID-19 Could Be End of Line for Some Regional Colleges" PEW, June 4, 2020.
Thomas Lee Harnisch quoted by Daniel C. Vock, "State Lawmakers Wrestle With Scope and Timing of Higher Ed Budget Cuts " Education Dive, May 28, 2020.
Thomas Lee Harnisch quoted by Rick Ruggles, "Flag Football, Discounts: Colleges Seek Ways to Boost Enrollment Amid Coronavirus Uncertainty" Omaha World Herald, May 27, 2020.
Thomas Lee Harnisch quoted by Dan Bauman, "Public Regional Colleges Were Already Struggling. COVID-19 May Push Some to the Brink. " The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 11, 2020.


"The Promises and Pitfalls of State Free Community College Plans," (with Kati Lebioda),

Describes some of the challenges and opportunities presented by state free community college plans.

, American Association of State Colleges and Universities , 05/2016.
"The “Pay It Forward” College Financing Concept: A Pathway to the Privatization of Public Higher Education ,"

Outlines the problems of state-level financing plans that allow students to go to college for free in exchange for a percent of their salaries for an extended period of time after graduation.

, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, 07/2014.
"A Flexible Risk Retention Model for Federal Student Loans," (with Barmak Nassirian),

Provides a framework for a risk-sharing policy for federal student loans.

, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, 2017.
"Does Accreditation Protect Students Effectively?" (with Barmak Nassirian), in Accreditation on the Edge Challenging Quality Assurance in Higher Education, edited by Susan D. Phillips and Kevin Kinser (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018), 14.

Discusses the numerous shortcomings of the current approach to accreditation in higher education.

"Exploring the Role of Business-Led Advocacy Coalitions as a Strategy to Elevate Public Higher Education as a State Funding Priority ,"

Examines the role of business-led advocacy coalitions, including their effectiveness in advancing higher education as a state policy priority.

, The George Washington University, January 31, 2016.