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The SBPC Emerging Scholars Program supports and elevates the research of young academics working on issues related to student loan debt and the student debt crisis. Leveraging the resources and networks of SBPC, the Emerging Scholars Program aims to help lay the foundation for the next generation of student debt researchers across disciplines and to produce high-quality, actionable research on the education financing market. 

SBPC Emerging Scholars enjoy access to student loan policy experts at the SBPC and beyond, access as desired to two proprietary datasets managed by the Student Loan Law Initiative, and grants of up to $5,000. Using these resources, SBPC Emerging Scholars produce at least one academic paper that can be submitted to a journal and/or used on the academic job market, as well as other materials.

SBPC Emerging Scholars need not be quantitative empiricists, and they 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. Applications for the Emerging Scholars program are rolling. We are not accepting applications at this time. Please check back soon for details on when applications will reopen.

Meet the current scholars

Photo of Meredith Welch

Meredith Welch

Meredith is a Ph.D. Candidate at Cornell University in the Brooks School of Public Policy. She is an applied micro-economist studying issues in labor economics, the economics of education, and consumer finance. Her research focuses on three main threads: the effect of student loan debt on individuals’ labor market outcomes, financial health, and overall well-being; the interaction of higher education policy with social safety net programs; and understanding the causes and consequences of race and gender disparities in the labor market. Prior to graduate school, Meredith worked at the intersection of policy and research on higher education topics at the Education Trust and College Board. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Economics and Spanish from the University of Michigan. 

Photo of Belisa Pang

Belisa Pang

Belisa Pang is a Ph.D. student at Yale School of Management and a J.D. student at Yale Law School. Her research includes student loan debt and bankruptcy. 

Emerging Scholars Program

Jonathan Conzelmann

Photo of Jonathan Conzelmann

Johnathan Conzelmann is a PhD candidate in Public Policy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. His work focuses on the college and labor market choices of young adults and their interactions with economic conditions, postsecondary institutions, and related policies. Several of his projects evaluate student loan policy in the United States and how it has affected job search, earnings, and migration patterns. His current work also explores how college students and institutions respond to changes in employer demand for skill. In practice, his work seeks to help policymakers bridge gaps in supply and demand for human capital in a way that encourages equity across individual and institutional dimensions. Johnathan holds a master’s degree from North Carolina State University and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Butler University. He previously worked for RTI International with the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to develop federal studies of college students including the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS).

Crossan Cooper


Crossan Cooper is a PhD candidate in Economics at Yale University studying topics in labor economics and public and household finance. His research focuses on the interaction between education and inequality, with a particular focus on the impact of different forms of student borrowing on future economic outcomes. While in New Haven, Crossan has also served as a Research Consultant for Source Development Hub, a social entrepreneurship startup focused on designing effective social services solutions to long-standing issues in education and housing policy.


Originally from Scottsboro, Alabama, Crossan holds a B.S. in Mathematics and Economics with Honors from Davidson College.

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