Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Welfare reform, education, and inequality: A closer look at public assistance recipients in California community colleges
by Mathur, Anita Kim, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2008, 306; 3388284
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation assesses the educational and economic outcomes of welfare recipients who have attended the California Community College system and also documents the utilization and impact of financial aid on the California Community College welfare recipient student population. The study speaks to the larger theoretical question of implementing a “mixed strategy” (school plus work) approach which has been favored by progressively focused welfare reform policy. Demanding greater access to education for the poor may sound good in theory, but at the same time that we call for an expansion of educational opportunity we must also question the sensibility of sending parents with significant academic, economic, and social barriers into a work-oriented, supportive service-deficient college atmosphere that could make it difficult for them to successfully complete educational goals.

Results from this study indicate that a combination of higher educational credentials and in-school work opportunities can significantly improve post college earnings for the welfare population—particularly for students who exit with medium to longer length certificates or Associate degrees and those who exit with credentials in Health related fields. However, this study also finds that the likelihood of recipients exiting college with a new credential of any kind or of transferring to a four-year institution is extremely low. Additionally, there is a negative correlation between in-school employment and award completion even after accounting for differences in academic goals and economic need. Therefore, while a mixed strategy approach may be most effective under the best circumstances, low award and transfer rates suggest that student welfare participants may struggle with work, family and school balance which leads the vast majority to leave school for a significant period of time without completing a new credential. The good news is that providing additional supportive services may substantially improve college retention and award completion. Findings from this study show that higher financial aid is associated with better educational attainment outcomes. Therefore expanding financial aid programs and broadening the overall menu of college-provided supportive services may go far in helping low-income parents make the most out of both work and educational opportunities.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hout, Michael
School: University of California, Berkeley
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 70/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Community college education, Public policy
Keywords: California, Community college, Education, Inequality, Public assistance, Welfare, Welfare reform
Publication Number: 3388284
ISBN: 978-1-109-53085-8
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