February 20, 2015
Major and Classification
Public Policy, Management and Planning
- LaVonna Lewis, Ph.D.
- Policy, Planning, and Development
“Investigating the Phenomenon: The Increasing College Enrollment of Low-Income African American Students but the Failure to Obtain College Degrees”
Numerous reports have stated that each year increasing numbers of low-income African American students graduate from high school academically prepared to enter college, but unfortunately experience financial barriers that limit their ability to enter or even remain in their desired institution. In turn, the college entry and completion rate of low-income students continues to fall behind their middle- and upper-income peers. When both race and income are paired together, an issue rarely researched, the opportunity of success in completing a college degree is vastly abated. The initial disadvantage for African Americans is that they hold only one tenth the wealth of white families and are expected to progress academically and socially at a comparative rate. Therefore, through this exploratory research I identify key factors affecting the success of low income African American students based on my personal experience and the use of Nation-Wide data from the National Center for Educational Statistics. This study highlights the following key factors: socioeconomic status, academic preparation, financial aid, family influences, and motivation as they pertain to the success of these students. Understanding the significance of these factors will be critical in determining if America’s public policy commitment to provide access and opportunity to anyone who seeks secondary education is effective for low income African Americans.