Assistant Professor of Higher Education, Seton Hall University
Room 413, Jubilee Hall
400 South Orange Avenue
South Orange, NJ 07079
Areas of Expertise & Civic InvolvementsKelchen’s research interests include student financial aid, higher education finance, and accountability policy. His work as a methodologist for Washington Monthly magazine’s annual college rankings won an award for best data journalism from the Education Writers Association. His teaching interests include higher education finance, research methods, and governance and accountability policies and practices. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Truman State University and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"Accelerating College Knowledge: A Fiscal Analysis of a Targeted Early Commitment Pell Grant Program" (with Sara Goldrick-Rab). The Journal of Higher Education (forthcoming).
Evaluates the fiscal consequences of making an early commitment of the full Pell Grant to eighth graders from needy families, using a simplified eligibility process.
"Federal College Ratings: A Primer and Potential Implications" Journal of College Admission (forthcoming).
Details the Obama Administration’s proposed Postsecondary Institution Ratings System (PIRS) and makes methodological and policy recommendations.
"A Tale of Two Income Years: Comparing Prior-Prior Year and Prior-Year Through Pell Grant Awards," (with Gigi Jones), National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, September 30, 2013.
Examines the distributional implications of advancing the federal aid notification timeline up to one year by using the previous year’s income tax data to determine Pell Grant eligibility.
"Book Review: Getting to Graduation: The Completion Agenda in Higher Education" Journal of Student Financial Aid 43, no. 1 (2013).
Reviews Andrew P. Kelly and Mark Schneider’s volume examining the promises and pitfalls of the completion agenda in higher education.
"Recommendations for the Effective and Equitable Implementation of Performance-Based Funding for Wisconsin Higher Education," (with Nicholas Hillman and Sara Goldrick-Rab), The Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education, December 31, 2012.
Takes a broader look at performance-based funding initiatives by examining the effects of performance-based funding in other states, and draws on the latest empirical evidence to highlight both the potential benefits and pitfalls of such a funding model.
"Conditional Cash Transfers and College Persistence: Evidence from a Randomized Need-Based Grant Program," (with Sara Goldrick-Rab and James Benson), Institute for Research on Poverty, September 30, 2012.
Uses the random assignment of a private Wisconsin need-based grant to estimate the impacts of financial aid on college persistence among Pell Grant recipients at 13 public universities over three years.
"Can ‘Value Added’ Methods Improve the Measurement of College Performance? Empirical Analyses and Policy Implications," (with Douglas Harris), HCM Strategists, August 31, 2012.
Develops a “cost-adjusted graduation rate performance” measure to estimate a college’s value-added to students and policymakers using two different metrics. One of the measures developed has been incorporated into Washington Monthly’s annual college rankings.
Media ContributionsKelchen is frequently quoted by the higher education press and has appeared on the Marketplace radio program, KABC radio, Florida Public Radio, and MSNBC. A selection of recent OpEds is listed below:
Robert Kelchen quoted on student loan default rates in Naomi Schaefer Riley, "The Real Meaning behind High Loan Default Rates among Black Students - Another Kind of College Mismatch" Los Angeles Times, November 29, 2017.
Robert Kelchen quoted on weighing what schools contribute through public service, research and social mobility in Nick Anderson, "The U.S. News and World Report College Rankings: A Public vs. Private Dilemma" The Washington Post, September 9, 2015.
Robert Kelchen's research on the advantages and disadvantages of competency-based programs discussed in Anya Kamenetz, "Competency-Based Degree Programs on the Rise," National Public Radio, January 26, 2015.
Talks and Briefings
"Update on Federal College Ratings," Yes We Must Coalition, Chicago, IL, April 24, 2014.