Learning and Teaching During COVID-19

Contact My SSW Report Sexual Misconduct

Main menu

William Elliott III

Professor of Social Work, Director, Joint Doctoral Program in Social Work and Social Science

William Elliott III

Professor William Elliott is a leading researcher in the fields of college savings accounts, college debt, and wealth inequality. Shaped by his personal roots in poverty in a small steel mill city in Pennsylvania, Professor Elliott pursues is challenging individual beliefs and cultural values that surround funding for college, student debt, inequality, systemic patterns of poverty, and educational justice. Being refined in poverty allows him to approach questions in his research differently.

Some of the college savings account programs he is currently conducting research on are the Oakland Promise in California, Prosperity Kids in New Mexico, K2C in San Francisco, Promise Indiana, and the Harold Alfond College challenge in Maine. He’s published in journals such as Economics and Education Review, Journal of Poverty, Race and Social Problems, Educational Policy, and his most recent book is, “Making Education Work for the Poor: The Potential of Children’s Savings Accounts”. His research adds fuel to debates about how to imagine ways of financing college other than by student debt. He believes that there are real possibilities and his research bears this out. He asks if college education can truly be the great equalizer it is meant to be when wealth inequality remains the defining feature of American society. He calls for the next great wealth transfer in America. The seemingly naive premise behind Professor Elliott’s research is that there are better, more effective, and more just ways of financing college and delivering on the promise of the American dream. He suggests, people must just be shown once again that more is possible.

Research Interests/Focus

Economic, educational, and racial disparities; social policy; mental health; child development


Year Degree   School
2008 PhD Social Work Washington University, St. Louis, MO
2005 MSW Social Work Washington University, St. Louis, MO
1995 BA Geneva College, Beaver Falls, PA


Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion
Year Description
2018 Our Kids, Our Future
2016 Elliott, W. (2016, March snowed out return October). Forging Solutions Out of Challenges: Social Work Leading Change through Financial Inclusion. Invited lecture by the School of Social Work at Colorado State University and the School’s Diversity and Human Rights Committee (DHRC) to be the special guest speaker for the inaugural year of the Dr. Brad Sheafor Lecture.
2016 Elliott, W. (2016, April). Race, Student Debt, and Equity. Key note. Educational, School and Counseling Psychology 8th Annual Conference at the University of Missouri.
2016 Elliott, W. (2016, June). Designing Sustainable Funding for College Promise Initiatives. College Promise Campaign, Washington, D.C.
2016 Elliott, W. (2016, August). Panel on Student Loans and Socioeconomic Mobility. Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
2016 Elliott, W. (2016, September). Post-Secondary Options. Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas.
2016 Elliott, W. (2016, January). Panel on Social Work Grand Challenges: Reversing Extreme Economic Inequality. (SSWR). Annual National Conference.
2015 Elliott, W. (2015, Jan.). Participation in round table discussion titled Postsecondary Education as an Asset: An Investment for Financial Well-Being and Autonomy. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans (PACFCYA) Postsecondary Education Working Group. Washington, DC.
2015 Elliott, W. (2015, April). CSA Effects. 2015 AFN Grantmaker Conference Integrating Across Sectors. Assets Funders Network. Dallas, TX.
2015 Elliott, W. (2015, June). Student Debt. Education Commission of the States. Denver, Colorado.
2015 Elliott, W. (2015, October). Restoring the American Dream of a College Education, TED Talk, University of Kansas, KS.

Contact Us Press escape to close