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Student Loan Research

Phillip Oliff 

Senior Manager

Phillip Oliff leads Pew’s work exploring the fiscal and policy relationships between the federal and state governments including how federal budget and tax changes could affect states and the role that federal and state finances play in higher education and surface transportation. Oliff also manages a team of researcher studying potential solutions for student loan defaults and veterans’ higher education debt.

Full bio

Scott Brees


Scott Brees is an officer with Pew’s student loan research project focusing on understanding the scope and scale of veterans’ student loan debt. This research will inform policymakers and other stakeholders about the unique challenges that veterans face and help find evidence-based solutions to their high levels of education debt.

Before joining Pew, Brees served as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy, where he led teams and projects that provided vital intelligence to senior policymakers while working in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, and Panama. After retiring from the Navy, he used the GI Bill to transition to a new career focused on higher education policy and analysis.

Brees earned a bachelor’s degree in foreign service from Georgetown University, a master’s in political science from the University of Kansas, and a master’s in public policy combined with a certificate in survey methodology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Ama Takyi-Laryea


Ama Takyi-Laryea is an officer for Pew’s student loan research project and the team’s research methodologist with more than 15 years’ experience in research, monitoring, and evaluation. In her previous position at ICF International Inc., she led teams on evaluation projects in multiple locations for the Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant programs. Takyi-Laryea holds a bachelor’s degree in economics with honors from Hood College and a master’s degree in survey methodology from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Chrissy Steigelman

Senior Associate

Chrissy Steigelman focuses on understanding student loan default and studying potential solutions. She previously worked on the research review and support (RRS) team, where she assisted program teams throughout Pew to deliver high-quality research products.

Before coming to Pew, Steigelman assisted with survey development at Fors Marsh Group.

Steigelman holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Michigan State University and is pursuing her master’s degree in public policy from Georgetown University.