Students that originate from low-income or working class families face many challenges within the pursuit of an advanced education. Most research demonstrates that the rising cost of education negatively impacts low-income students and creates an added barrier to their success, graduation rates and social economic status after graduation. The is the rising cost of Higher education’s impact on students from students from lower income and working class families.
Students receiving their high school diplomas has increased dramatically over the last forty years mirroring the increased cost college. College affordability has become an issue for students from lower income and working class families. (Insert citation) Data retrieved from The College Board indicates that college tuition increased at a rate of 3. 7 at private institutions and 2. 9 at public universities for the 2014-2015 academic years. Citation)
Due to the increase of college tuition many students from lower-income backgrounds are facing a major burden to finance their college education. In order to have the opportunity to attend college, many students from lower social economic backgrounds are working jobs with long hours during college to supplement this financial burden. For example, aBozick (2007) discovered that 74% of students from lower income families work jobs with long hours while in school to assist with financing the student’s college education on campus and at home.
In addition, students from lower income backgrounds often are unable to have the traditional college experience and sacrifice many of the activities associated with college to alleviate some of the cost associated with obtaining a degree (McCormick, Moore, and Kuhn, 2010) and create financial challenges that adversely impact a student’s ability to graduate. A large majority of low-income students qualify for federal grants, King (2002) research shows that tuition costs for lowincome students was around 42% and 61% of average family income after grants, compared with 11% of average family income for middle- and upper-income students.
Although, lowincome students’ unmet financial need is normally three times higher than that of middle and upper-income students (King, 2002). This extra financial burden placed upon low-income students often leads to outcomes that compromise their success. While most research suggests that college students who devote a majority of their time to studying and their campus communitity are likely to prospers (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005; Tinto, 2012), the unfortunate reality is that many low-income college students make financial decisions which compromise their ability to remain deeply connected to their institutions.
In a large national study, King (2002) found that low-income freshmen were far less likely to study full compared with middle-and upper-income freshmen across all institutional types. It was also (King, 2002) discovered that lowincome students were more likely to borrow and accrue more debt than their middle/upper-income peers. The increased debt burdens become problematic because low-income students are drastically less likely to earn a degree than their middle/upperincome peers leading to a less successful career or inability to attain wealth due to financial strain (King, 2002).
Economic decisions made by low-income students are often lead to whether they remain enrolled or take a leave of from higher education. Desjardins, Ahlburg, and McCall (2006) exposed data that low-income students were more likely to drop out, less likely to return after, and more likely to have a second end to their matriculation compared with their middle/higher-income peers.
Financial decision, such as taking a semester off from school or incurring high levels of debt, negatively impact degree attainment (Dwyer, Hodson, & McCloud, 2013) and have other long-term implications in students’ pursuit of graduate school (Choy & Carroll, 2000; Millett, 2003) and major purchases (Baum & O’Malley 2003). Large amounts of undergraduate debt often prevent students from purchasing homes, having children or leaving their parents’ homes after graduation (Simpson, Smith, Taylor, and Chadd, 2012).
The cost of higher education significantly impacts low-income students during and after their matriculation especially if students leave college before attaining an educational (Gladieux & Perna, 2005). Traditionally, colleges and universities have been viewed as vehicles to improve ones’ life, especially for low-income students (Bourdieu, 1986; Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992). Bourdieu (1986, 1997) suggested three forms of capital are closely related to social class and structuring social advantage after matriculation (Bourdieu, 1986; 1997)—social, cultural, and economic capital.
Economic capital, or wealth, is at the root of all other types of capital (Bourdieu, 1997). Low-income and similarly situated firstgeneration students who lack the economic capital necessary to afford the costs of higher education are forced to make decisions that are considerably different from their peers. Social capital consists of connections or networks that can assist in the procurement of knowledge and resources (Winkle-Wagner, 2010).
It has been established that students’ social networks (school counselors, parents, peers, etc. transmit valuable information (social capital) about college opportunities and funding options, which ultimately affect students’ college-going decisions (Trent, Lee, & Owens-Nicholson, 2006); yet, lacking many of these knowledgeable social networks, low-income students face great challenges when making sound financial decisions such as applying for financial aid and locating employment (Baum & O’Malley, 2003; Fentress & Collopy, 2011; Mendoza, 2012; Richardson & Skinner, 1992).
Within higher education, it is also often noted that students from low-income backgrounds also face challenges that compromise their sense of belonging and integration, therefore contributing to their lower persistence and graduation rates (Aries & Seider, 2005; Granfield, 1991; Lehmann, 2007; Ostrove, 2003; Ostrove & Cole, 2003).
Most institutions encourage students to be engrossed inside and outside of the classroom; yet, low-income and working-class students are more likely to feel stressed by their finances and view college as a time they must develop to work (Stuber, 2011; Walpole, 2003). College students from low-income backgrounds are also more likely to experience academic disengagement and a less welcoming campus environment for social class (Soria, 2012).
Alternatively, students from upper socioeconomic backgrounds tend to be more engaged in campus life (Stuber, 2011), may feel less inclined to manage their finances due to parental support (Serido, Shim, Mishra, & Tang, 2010), and are less likely to work while enrolled (Walpole, 2003). Research has found that the economic capital, social capital, and students’ habitus inhibit low-income students from participating in extracurricular activities (Barratt, 2012; Martin, 2012; Stuber, 2009, 2011; Walpole, 2003).
Students from lower social class backgrounds often abstain from extracurricular activities due to cost and the need to work to pay for tuition and living expenses (Barratt, 2012; Walpole, 2003). McDonough and Calderone (2006) suggested that existing research fails to support the different micro-situational and sociocultural contexts in which students from different social class backgrounds make decisions. Most financially-motivated behaviors may detract low-income students’ college experiences or lead to attrition.