J Michael Collins headshot

J. Michael Collins

Fetzer Family Chair in Consumer and Personal Finance, Professor
Consumer Science Department; Personal Finance Major
Office 4208

J. Michael Collins is faculty director of the Center for Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is the Fetzer Family Chair in Consumer & Personal Finance in the School of Human Ecology, a Professor at the La Follette School of Public Affairs, a family economics specialist for the Division of Extension, and an affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty and 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. He is involved in studies of household finance and well-being supported by leading foundations and federal agencies. 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 SpringFour, an online database for mortgage servicers and counselors.

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PhD, Policy Analysis and Management, Cornell University
MPP, Harvard University
BS, Miami University


La Follette School of Public Affairs
Institute for Research on Poverty
Center for Demography and Ecology
Division of Extension

Recent press

‘If you’re behind, these funds won’t really make a difference’: J. Michael Collins on impact of stimulus package on recovery, Yahoo! Finance, December 30, 2020
A new poll shows the ‘outsized’ financial burdens faced by millennials, Yahoo! Finance, December 11, 2020
Is more economic relief from Congress on the way?, Minnesota Public Radio, September 10, 2020
Coffee, ketchup and Nike Air Max: It’s the COVID consumer economy, Reuters, September 1, 2020
Why Black Americans face more retirement challenges, Yahoo! Finance, July 15, 2020
Wisconsin workers, small businesses, eye COVID-19 stimulus to get through hard times, Cap Times, March 29, 2020
‘I have no money’: debt collection continues despite pandemic, The Guardian, March 28, 2020
Coronavirus will affect everyone, even if you never get sick. But some people will be hit harder than others, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 23, 2020
How to build an emergency fund in the middle of an emergency, New York Times, March 20, 2020

Social Media

Personal website

Family Economics Doctoral Seminar (CS 930)

Birkemeier, J., M. Sherraden, and J. M. Collins (2018). Financial Capability and Asset Building: A Textbook for Professionals. New York, NY: Oxford Press.