J. Michael Collins

Credentials: Professor

Email: jmcollins@wisc.edu

4206 Nancy Nicholas Hall
1300 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706

Profile photo of J. Michael Collins


J. Michael Collins is Professor of Public Affairs and Human Ecology where he is Fetzer Family Chair in Consumer and Personal Finance. Collins serves as Faculty Director of the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Center for Financial Security. He is a faculty affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty, and the Center for Demography and Ecology. Collins studies consumer decision-making in the financial marketplace, including the role of public policy in influencing credit, savings and investment choices.

His work includes the study of financial capability with a focus on low-income families. He directed the Social Security Administration Financial Literacy Research Consortium site at Wisconsin (2009-2012). He is involved in studies of mortgage foreclosure and family well-being supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, financial counseling supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and emergency savings policies for the C.S. Mott Foundation.

Collins brings nearly a decade of applied experience to his research. He founded PolicyLab Consulting Group, a research consulting firm working with national foundations and government agencies, and co-founded MortgageKeeper Referral Services, an online database for mortgage servicers and counselors. He also worked for NeighborWorks America (Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation) and the Millennial Housing Commission.

In 2016, Collins received a Vilas Associates Award from UW-Madison’s Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education for his project “Financial Capabilities and Medication Persistence and Adherence: A Randomized Trial.”

Curriculum vitae (pdf)Pronouns: he/him⁠

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  • Ph.D., Cornell University, Policy Analysis & Management
  • MPA, Harvard University
  • BS, Miami University (Ohio), Secondary Education


Public affairs courses taught by J. Michael Collins:

PA 869 Workshop in Public Affairs

Podcast interview


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Working papers and other publications

The Effects of State Policies Requiring High School Personal Finance Education on Credit Scores

UW–Madison affiliations