Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An investigation of the perceptions of low -income students of color concerning college costs and financial aid information
by Waters, Jennifer A., Ph.D., Loyola University Chicago, 2009, 168; 3367138
Abstract (Summary)

As college enrollments continue to increase, the disparity between middle-income white students and low-income students of color enrolling in private higher educational institutions continues to widen. Previous research has identified barriers such as access and equity in education, the high cost of education, and limited knowledge regarding college costs and financial aid resources as obstacles to enrollment. However, little is know about the specific role the higher education institutions have in providing students with college cost and financial aid information and how it effects eventual enrollment.

This study explores the process of how low-income students of color: (a) learn about, interpret, and understand the variety of information they receive about college costs and financial aid resources from higher education institutions; (b) value and utilize college cost and financial aid information marketed to them by institutions through student aid processes; and (c) utilize the cost and aid information in making an enrollment decision. A qualitative study of fifteen full-time, low-income students of color attending a private 4-year institution were interviewed to elicit their perspectives, experiences, and knowledge of college cost and financial aid information.

Results found students to gather college cost and financial aid information through various techniques such as online searching, informal conversations and structured programming and from multiple information sources such as their high school, peers and family and the post-secondary institution. The institution was found to have a very limited and specific role whereas informal conversations and peer and family networking were the most prevalent in seeking information. Students were found to have low-to-minimal expectations regarding college costs and financial aid information from their institution and were found to prefer to avoid using the institution as a resource. Finally, students were found to address their cost and aid concerns regarding enrollment by either limiting their college choices or by following a recommendation by a family member or peer rather than cost and aid information provided by the institution. The findings of this study reveal many areas for institutions to examine their role and responsibilities in educating students regarding college costs and financial aid information.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Williams, Terry A.
School: Loyola University Chicago
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 70/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Education finance, Ethnic studies, Higher education
Keywords: College costs, Financial aid, Higher education, Low-income, Students of color
Publication Number: 3367138
ISBN: 978-1-109-26497-5
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