Will Doyle is co-author of College Affordability Diagnosis, a state-by-state look at the cost of higher education. His research includes evaluating the impact of higher education policy at the state level and political behavior as it affects higher education. He examines how geography affects higher education attainment and the impact of a college degree on earnings and civic engagement, including philanthropy and voting. Prior to joining Vanderbilt, he was Senior Policy Analyst at the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

Media Appearances

  • Reshaping the Federal Role in Higher Ed

    This week’s episode dissects Congressional legislation that would eliminate tuition at community colleges and alter the relationship between the federal and state governments.

    September 17th, 2021

  • Higher Education’s Nightmare Scenario

    Public colleges face two crises: the impact of Covid-19 on their operations and a downturn in state funding brought on by the current recession. And based on what state budget offices are saying, the funding problem for higher education is about to get a lot worse. Without action by the federal government, higher education in most states will be facing severe cuts, very likely larger than those incurred during the recession of 2008-9. There has already been a large contraction in our industry’s work force, and state systems are feeling the pain: In Pennsylvania, for instance, a plan to lay off approximately 350 faculty members has reportedly been expedited. All of that may merely be prelude to a looming, historic decline in the sector. There is time to act, but the window is closing. Academic leaders are planning now for unprecedented cuts.

    October 12th, 2020

  • 40 years later, landmark Emory gift remains call to public service

    “It’s really dramatically unequal,” said Will Doyle, a Vanderbilt University higher education professor who’s done research on the topic. “The places that have the most money get the most money.”

    February 22nd, 2020

  • ‘Tennessee Promise’ offers free community college or technical school education

    NBC News’ Anne Thompson reports on a lottery-funded program in Tennessee that offers free community college or technical school tuition to students, regardless of income.

    May 23rd, 2019

  • Nashville Mayor David Briley proposes $1 million investment to boost college graduation rates

    But in some of the city's poorest neighborhoods, college attainment rates remain woefully low despite some increases in recent years, according to a data analysis by the USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee in partnership with Vanderbilt University researcher Will Doyle.

    December 5th, 2018

  • How Tennessee educators are learning to address race and its impacts on college achievement

    “Minority students at every step face discrimination, and providing additional supports prior to and while they’re in higher education to alleviate the impacts of that discrimination is one of the ways to get to where we need to go," said Vanderbilt University professor Will Doyle. “That stuff isn’t free.”

    November 12th, 2018

  • Why Many College Dropouts Are Returning to School in North Carolina

    “This isn’t a solution at the scale that the state would see big increases in the proportion of people attending higher education,” William Doyle, a professor of higher education at Vanderbilt University, told me. It’s a valiant start, he says, but equally important is making sure that college is affordable for students where they live. That’s because nearly 60 percent of incoming freshmen at four-year public colleges attend schools within 50 miles of their permanent residence. For this solution to have a broad effect on college-going culture, it will need to be available at more schools.

    October 25th, 2018

  • Free Tuition? Tennessee Could Tutor New York

    “In many ways, it’s a good model in terms of how much work you have to do in terms of implementation to get this to work,” said William Doyle, an associate professor of public policy and higher education at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. “The messaging, the branding, the community outreach.”

    May 24th, 2017

  • Would axing a loan-forgiveness program narrow options for graduates?

    The debt burden is actually a symptom of a bigger problem of the increasing price of college, notes William Doyle, professor of public policy and higher education at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. And though it’s a laudable goal to think that some people will go into public sector jobs because of a program like this, he says, it’s reasonable to question whether that should even be one of the federal government’s goals.

    May 24th, 2017

  • The new North-South divide: public higher education

    This amounts to “spending on students that are going to college anyway,” said William Doyle, a professor of public policy and higher education at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, who studies college affordability. “You’ve got a set of states that have spent a lot time and money on solving the wrong problems.”

    August 25th, 2016


Ph.D., Stanford University

M.A., Stanford University

B.A., Villanova University

B.A., Villanova University


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