Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Higher and Adult Education


Higher Education

Committee Chair

Jeffrey Wilson

Committee Member

Wendy Griswold

Committee Member

Lamont Simmons

Committee Member

Kristin Mumiukha


Working-class students face many struggles in attempting to complete a college degree. Two of the most prominent struggles faced by these students are the deficiency of financial aid available for those in the working-class and the lack of these students' social capital. Social capital, which is often passed down through families, may be particularly lacking for working-class students because students from these families may be first-generation and a student's family may not possess the knowledge about the higher education process to help these students apply for financial aid. Additionally, college students who lack social capital may not have family emotional support and may face jealousy or criticism from family members who have not had the same postsecondary educational opportunities. In order to explore the role that a lack of social capital plays in working-class students' ability to obtain financial aid and be retained in college, this study was designed to assess whether working-class students attending a large urban public community college in Pennsylvania who possessed strong family social capital were more likely to be retained into their second semester of studies than those with poor social capital, and whether family social capital impacted participants' financial aid awards. Using the Mann-Whitney U and Fisher's Exact Tests, participants' survey results were analyzed to determine whether working-class students experienced difficulties in their retention due to a lack of financial aid or a lack of family and community support. The researcher found a significant difference in the number of participants retained who possessed strong family emotional support versus those students who possessed poor family emotional support. The findings indicated no statistically significant difference in all other areas.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.