Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Qualitative Case Study Exploring the Relationship between California State Financial Aid and Undocumented Student Persistence in a Community College
by Gonzalez, Maria, Ed.D., Northcentral University, 2017, 145; 10637102
Abstract (Summary)

This qualitative, phenomenological case study was designed to illuminate the perceptions and experiences of eight undocumented community college students navigating the California public higher education systems with the aim of identifying factors associated with college persistence. These factors fall into three categories: financial, academic, and legal. The specific problem of interest is the lack of undocumented student persistence in California community colleges. Given that college students depend more on financial aid to reach their college goals; it is important to understand the relationship between California State funding and undocumented student persistence. A qualitative case study design enabled the exploration of undocumented students’ perceptions and experiences with financial assistance for college due to the new and changing federal and state immigration policies, and the academic and legal factors that contribute to their persistence. Emerging themes from interviews conducted with eight undocumented student participants were analyzed and coded. The financial factors contributing to persistence included understanding the financial aid process for undocumented students, information on grants and scholarships, and knowledge of AB540 for lower college fees. Academic factors contributing to persistence included support from: Faculty, Dream Club membership, Puente Project, EOPS, and Tutoring Centers. A welcoming campus environment was also a factor in having students feel safe to continue their education. Legal factors contributing to persistence included: knowledge of federal and state laws such as DACA, AB540, and the California DREAM act application for state aid.

One limitation of qualitative research is the reliance on small participant samples, which allows for in-depth explorations but limits generalization. The use of standardized instruments to capture the experiences of undocumented students would also facilitate comparison studies involving students at various institutions and in different states. Given the numerous variations in state and institutional policies this would help researchers, college administrators, and practitioners understand how different policies and practices affect the educational trajectories of undocumented students.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Durgin, Janet
Commitee: Shaw, Melanie
School: Northcentral University
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 79/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Community college education, Education finance, Educational leadership
Keywords: Academic integration, Financial aid, Higher education, In-state tuition, Persistence, Undocumented students
Publication Number: 10637102
ISBN: 978-0-355-41875-0
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