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Benjamin L. Castleman

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Benjamin L. Castleman
Phone: 434-243-5419
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Location: Ruffner Hall 262
Curriculum vitae: Castleman_CV_5-16
Department: Ed Policy Works; Leadership, Foundations and Policy
Mailing Address: PO Box 400265, Charlottesville, VA 22904

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Assistant Professor of Education and Public Policy


  • Ed.D, Harvard University, November 2013
  • B.A. Brown University, 2000

Personal Statement

Ben Castleman is an Assistant Professor of Education and Public Policy at the University of Virginia and is the Faculty Director of the University of Virginia-US Army Partnership on the Educational Trajectories of Soldiers and their Dependents. Ben’s research applies insights from behavioral economics and social psychology to improve college access and success for low-income and non-traditional students. He has conducted several randomized trials to investigate innovative strategies to help students and their families navigate complex educational decisions. Ben has presented about his research at The White House Summit on Expanding College Opportunity and in testimony before Congress. Ben was one of the winners (with the college success organization Bottom Line) of the 2014 Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy/White House Office of Science and Technology Policy competition for low-cost randomized controlled trials in public policy.

Ben has authored or edited several books: Summer Melt: Supporting Low-Income Students Through the Transition to College (with Lindsay Page); Decision Making for Student Success: Behavioral Insights to Improve College Persistence and Success (with Saul Schwartz and Sandy Baum); and the forthcoming The 160-Character Solution: How Text Messages and Other Behavioral Strategies Can Improve Education. Ben’s research has been generously supported by numerous philanthropic foundations and has received extensive media coverage, including The New York Times, National Public Radio, Time Magazine, and the Washington Post. Ben is a recipient of a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship and a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Dissertation Fellowship and is a recipient of The Association of American Colleges and Universities K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders award.

Ben is a graduate of Brown University, and completed his doctoral work at Harvard University. Before returning to graduate school, he was a public school teacher and administrator in Providence, RI.

Selected Publications

  • Barr, A., Bird, K., & Castleman, B. L. (2016) Prompting Active Choice Among High-Risk Borrowers: Evidence from a Student Loan Counseling Experiment. Center for Education Policy and Workforce Competitiveness Working Paper No. 41. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia.
  • Castleman, B.L. & Page, L.C. (2014). Freshman Year Financial Aid Nudges: An Experiment to Increase FAFSA Renewal and College Persistence. Center for Education Policy and Workforce Competitiveness Working Paper No. 28. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia.
  • Bird, K. & Castleman, B.L. (2014). Here Today, Gone Tomorrow? Investigating Rates and Patterns of Financial Aid Renewal Among College Freshmen. Center for Education Policy and Workforce Competitiveness Working Paper No. 25. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia.
  • Castleman, B.L., Page, L.C., & Schooley, K. (2014). The Forgotten Summer: Does the Offer of College Counseling After High School Mitigate Summer Melt Among College-Intending, Low-Income High School Graduates? Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 32(2): 320-344.
  • Castleman, B.L., & Page, L.C. (2014). A Trickle or a Torrent? Understanding the Extent of Summer Melt Among College-Intending High School Graduates. Social Science Quarterly,95(1): 202-220.
  • Castleman, B.L., & Page, L.C. (2013). Summer Nudging: Can Personalized Text Messages and Peer Mentor Outreach Increase College Going Among Low-Income High School Graduates? Center for Education Policy and Workforce Competitiveness Working Paper No. 9. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia.
  • Castleman, B.L. (2013). Prompts, Personalization, and Pay-offs: Strategies to Improve the Design and Delivery of College and Financial Aid Information. Center for Education Policy and Workforce Competitiveness Working Paper No. 14. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia.
  • Castleman, B.L., & Long, B.T. (2013). Looking Beyond Enrollment: The Causal Effect of Need-Based Grants on College Access, Persistence, and Graduation. NBER Working Paper No. 19,306. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.
  • Castleman, B.L., Arnold, K.D., & Wartman, K.L. (2012). Stemming The Tide of Summer Melt: An Experimental Study of the Effects of Post-High School Summer Intervention on College Enrollment. The Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 5(1): 1 – 18.


Record Seminars and Interviews

George Washington University’s FinLit Talks: Interviews with Financial Literacy Thought Leaders
In this interview with George Washington University’s Annamaria Lusardi, I discuss the potential for behavioral nudge strategies to improve financial literacy and postsecondary outcomes and to reduce educational inequality.

TEDxUVA’s 2016 Sights Unseen conference
In this video, I gave a TED talk about how to leverage behavioral insights to design low-come, scalable solutions that addresses pressing policy problems at TEDxUVA.

Congressional Testimony
In this video, I testified at the the U.S. House of Representatives Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee oversight hearing on Closing the Achievement Gap in Higher Education. I briefed the Committee on low-cost strategies to improve college persistence and success.

Interview with Gov Innovator Blog About Improving Education Outcomes through Innovative Low-Cost Interventions
In this audio, I discuss how school district leaders, or other state and local education leaders, can strengthen student outcomes through innovative low-cost interventions, such as through text messages. I also discuss my research which focuses on how behavioral economics and social psychology can improve college access and other measures of success for low-income students.

Ed Policy Seminar at University of Virginia
This talk was entitled “Prompts, Personalization, and Pay-offs: Using Behavioral Nudges to Help Students Navigate Complex Postsecondary Decisions” where I discussed new research that explores innovative strategies to help students and their families navigate complex decisions about postsecondary education.

Interview with Huffington Post on Summer Melt
This was a panel discussion on summer melt among college-intending high school students, and strategies that can be employed to smooth their transition to college.

Interview with Curry School of Education on College Access and Success
In this video I discuss why the college admission and enrollment process is such a hot topic and some of the new research I’m working on.




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