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About Us


The Education Finance Institute is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving opportunity with progressive solutions that:
  1. Strengthen mission-focused colleges and universities that primarily serve low-income, first-generation, and minority students which have been pillars of socioeconomic mobility. 
  2. Build student-centered solutions to make college affordable and to reduce the negative long-term impact of student loan debt on students and families.

We are dedicated to the following principles as we carry out our mission:

  • Our resources and investments align with students’ future success in evident and measurable ways. 

  • We must acknowledge and uphold the capacity of minority serving institutions, including HBCUs, to lead equity efforts.

  • Transformation requires solutions that are sustainable, scalable, and broadly adoptable.

Our Background


The Education Finance Institute (EFI) was formed in 2018 by Tony James, Executive Vice Chairman of The Blackstone Group, and Jim Runcie, former Chief Operating Officer of Federal Student Aid (FSA), the higher education regulatory oversight and student financing arm of the federal government. Mr. James and Mr. Runcie believe strongly in the benefit of obtaining a college education and have seen first-hand the significant and generational impact of higher education on students’ lives. They have also witnessed  the structural inequities that keep this opportunity out of reach for many Americans.


Our efforts to improve equitable access to educational opportunity include strengthening and sustaining institutions that primarily serve under-resourced students. These schools include minority-serving institutions (MSIs) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that play a pivotal role in socioeconomic mobility and social justice within our country. These institutions have served their mission under challenging resource constraints. EFI also envisions affordable and progressive financing as an access and completion solution for students and families. We proudly support the important and innovative student financing work of the Student Freedom Initiative, founded by Robert F. Smith.  

EFI collaborates with higher education leaders, philanthropy, socially responsible businesses, and policymakers to develop solutions that advance education opportunities for a more equitable society. 

Our Leadership

James Runcie

Chief Executive Officer

Formerly Chief Operating Officer of Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education. Provided federal oversight of Title IV post-secondary institutions, supervision of student loan programs and assets, implementation of higher education policy initiatives and organizational development. Prior experience includes 20 years of corporate finance, project and transaction management, and leadership roles with major domestic and international financial institutions.

William Leith

Managing Director

Formerly Chief Business Operations Officer of Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education. Directly oversaw the student financial aid programs and management of the student loan portfolio. Prior to FSA, Bill worked for approximately 20 years in financial aid management at several universities.

Annie Reznik


Formerly inaugural Executive Director of the Coalition for College, a group of 150 colleges and universities committed to access, affordability and success. Prior to the Coalition, Annie worked in high schools and in college admissions at the University of Maryland.

Our Advisory Board

Advisory Board members are nationally recognized leaders committed to improving equal access to higher education and supporting holistic solutions that can benefit students across the country. We are grateful to the following individuals who have agreed to serve:

John Barnhill, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management, Florida State University

Dr. Doug Christiansen, Vice President for University Enrollment Affairs, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Vanderbilt University

Zina Evans, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Associate Provost, University of Florida

Barbara Gill,  Associate Vice President, Enrollment Management, University of Maryland

Kedra Ishop, PhD,  Vice President, Enrollment Management, University of Southern California

Jim Nondorf,  Vice President, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, University of Chicago

Matt Proto, Vice President, Dean of Admissions, Colby College

Matt Sessa, Executive Director of Student Registration and Financial Services, University of Pennsylvania

Francisco Valines, Director of Financial Aid, Florida International University

Our Partnerships

From professional service providers and colleges and universities to philanthropies, foundations, investors, we partner with organizations that share our commitment to supporting students and improving access to opportunity. 
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New York:

601 Lexington Avenue Fl 17,

New York, NY 10022

District of Columbia:

1301  Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 520

Washington,  DC 20004

©2019 Education Finance Institute