Rich Williams

Higher Education Advocate, U.S. PIRG

Rich Williams is the Higher Education Advocate for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) and the Student PIRGs’ Higher Education Project.

Since 2008, Williams has worked to represent college students before the White House, Congress, and the Department of Education. His expertise is federal higher education policy, including affordable textbooks, student aid, grants, and loans. His views and opinions have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and other publications.

Williams has helped coordinate two national campaigns that transformed the debate on federal aid policy in Washington, DC. While working to reduce student debt across the country, he played a major role in building support for the passage of landmark student aid bills such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. Williams represented students on the Department of Education’s 2009 and 2010 Negotiated Rulemaking teams that worked to create regulations around federal student loans and program integrity issues.

A first generation college student, Williams started organizing for higher education while a student at Coconino Community College and Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. He spearheaded a statewide affordable textbooks campaign, organizing public university students, professors, and Regents to introduce and pass a bill in the state legislature making textbooks more affordable. He graduated in 2008 with a degree in history.