Thomas G. Mortenson is Senior Scholar at The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education in Washington, DC. and an independent higher education policy analyst living in Oskaloosa, Iowa.

Tom's policy research focuses on opportunity for postsecondary education and training and the ways public policy fosters or impedes access to that opportunity.  He has special concern for populations that are under-represented in higher education: low income/first generation students, under-represented minorities including blacks, Hispanics and American Indians, and boys. His studies have addressed academic and financial preparation for college, access, choice, persistence, attainment, and labor force entry of college graduates.  He is particularly interested in public and private finance of higher education opportunity and the enrollment consequences of the cost-shift from taxpayers to students that has been underway since 1980.  He has been employed in policy research and budget analysis roles for the University of Minnesota, Illinois Board of Higher Education, Illinois State Scholarship Commission, and the American College Testing Program.

Currently Tom is editor and publisher of Postsecondary Education OPPORTUNITY, a monthly research letter devoted to analysis and reporting on the demographics, sociology, history, politics and economics of educational opportunity after high school.  He provides consulting services on higher educational opportunity policy to state and national organizations, and makes presentations on educational opportunity throughout the country and in Europe.




In 2011 Tom received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Educational Policy Institute, for dedication and service to the study of educational opportunity. This award was presented at the 2011 International Conference on Student Success held in San Diego, California.

In 2010 Tom received the Walter O. Mason Award from the Council for Opportunity in Education. "By telling and repeating, and telling and repeating, and then repeating again the odds facing low-income students aspiring to attend and graduate from college - Tom Mortenson has helped to keep the contrast between the articulated ideals of the United States with respect to educational opportunity - and the reality facing low-income students in the public consciousness.

In 2007 Tom received The Tri-State Consortium of Opportunity Programs in Higher Education Award from the Tri-State Consortium of Opportunity Programs of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. This award was for consistently promoting access and equity in higher education through research and publication.

In 2007 Tom received the TRIO Award from the Tri-State Consortium in Minnesota; in appreciation of his dedication and support of TRIO programs.

In 2003 Tom received the Arturo Alfonso Schomberg Award from The Association For Equality and Excellence in Education for his work on behalf of populations that have been denied access and opportunity in the pursuit of higher education.

In 2000 Tom was awarded the Shirley Chisholm Award by the New England Educational Opportunity Association for his research and policy analysis of issues facing TRIO students.

In July of 1999 Tom was awarded the Robert P. Huff Golden Quill Award by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators for his research on financial aid for college students. 

In 1990 he received the same award for earlier student financial aid research.  Tom is the only person to receive this award twice.



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