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  • COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS AND FINANCIAL LITERACY

    A doctoral thesis presented By

    Susan M. Sullivan

    to The School of Education

    In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education

    in the field of

    Education

    College of Professional Studies Northeastern University Boston, Massachusetts

    March 2016

  • COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS AND FINANCIAL LITERACY 2

    ABSTRACT There are a number of factors that impact persistence for community college students including,

    but not limited to, the inability to manage their finances and student loan debt. However, due to

    limited resources, community colleges often are unable to help their students become more

    financially literate. If community college administrators better understood the needs of their

    students with respect to financial literacy and debt management, they could develop programs that

    would increase student persistence rates and better position their students to be financially

    successful before and after graduation. Therefore, this exploratory case study will explore the

    financial literacy needs of students at Essex County Community College (ECCC). To better

    understand and further investigate the impact of financial aid literacy on student success, the

    problem of practice will be analyzed through applicable theoretical frameworks of Vincent Tintos

    Persistence Theory and Alexander Astins Student Involvement Theory. For this research,

    financial literacy will be generally defined as the ability to make informed decisions about personal

    finances, which would include effectively managing student loan debt.

    Keywords: financial literacy, student loans, debt management

  • COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS AND FINANICAL LITERACY 3

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    ABSTRACT ................................................................................................................................................ 2

    TABLE OF CONTENTS ........................................................................................................................... 3

    CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................. 6

    Purpose of the Study ............................................................................................................................................. 6

    Research Central Questions and Sub-questions ................................................................................................... 10

    Theoretical Framework ........................................................................................................................................ 10 Persistence Theory .................................................................................................................................................. 10 Student Involvement Theory .................................................................................................................................. 11

    CHAPTER II: LITERATURE REVIEW .............................................................................................. 13

    Financial Literacy of College Students .................................................................................................................. 13

    History of Student Loans ...................................................................................................................................... 14 The Servicemens Readjustment of 1944 (GI Bill) ................................................................................................... 14 The National Defense Education Act of 1958 (NDEA) ............................................................................................. 15 The Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) ................................................................................................................ 15

    Influences of Student Loan Debt .......................................................................................................................... 15

    Effect of Financial Issues on Student Retention ................................................................................................... 17

    Conclusion ........................................................................................................................................................... 18

    CHAPTER III: RESEARCH DESIGN .................................................................................................. 19

    Summary of Research Questions and Purpose ..................................................................................................... 19

    Positionality Statement ....................................................................................................................................... 19

    Research Design................................................................................................................................................... 20

    Research Tradition ............................................................................................................................................... 21

    Participants ......................................................................................................................................................... 21

    Recruitment and Access ....................................................................................................................................... 23

    Protection of Human Subjects ............................................................................................................................. 23

  • COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS AND FINANICAL LITERACY 4

    Data Collection .................................................................................................................................................... 23

    Data Storage ........................................................................................................................................................ 24

    Data Analysis ....................................................................................................................................................... 24

    Trustworthiness ................................................................................................................................................... 24

    Limitations ........................................................................................................................................................... 25

    CHAPTER IV: REPORT OF RESEARCH FINDINGS ...................................................................... 26

    Background .......................................................................................................................................................... 26

    Demographics ...................................................................................................................................................... 26

    Analysis of Survey Results .................................................................................................................................... 26

    Analysis of Interviews .......................................................................................................................................... 27 Student #1- Joe ....................................................................................................................................................... 27 Student #2- Maria ................................................................................................................................................... 28 Student #3 - Liz ....................................................................................................................................................... 29 Student #4 - Amy .................................................................................................................................................... 30 Administrators Focus Group ................................................................................................................................... 30

    Summary ............................................................................................................................................................. 32

    CHAPTER V: DISCUSSION OF RESEARCH FINDINGS ................................................................ 33

    Interpreting the Findings ..................................................................................................................................... 33

    Major Themes ...................................................................................................................................................... 33

    Research Central Question .................................................................................................................................. 33

    Research Sub-Questions ...................................................................................................................................... 34

    Implications ......................................................................................................................................................... 35

    Limitations of Study ............................................................................................................................................. 35

    Recommendations .............................................................................................