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ERIC Number: ED527991
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 261
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1245-6118-9
Full Financial Aid in the Ivy League: How High-Achieving, Low-Income Undergraduates Negotiate the Elite College Environment
McLoughlin, Paul J., II.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Boston College
Currently, there are nearly a million high-achieving, low-income students in the United States. In the nation's most selective institutions of higher education, students from low-income families have been persistently under-represented. Elite colleges, in particular, have only recently begun admitting low-income students in large numbers, a result of full need-based financial aid programs that began in the early 2000s as a way to attract a more socioeconomically diverse student body. This hermeneutic phenomenological study describes the lived experiences of these undergraduates and how they navigated a college environment historically reserved for wealthy students. Although participants initially expected to feel marginalized due to unfounded concerns of elitism, they formed friendships both within and across socioeconomic class divisions and described feeling integrated within the elite college. Participants developed self-protective narratives to compensate for their low-income backgrounds and employed strategies to make up for poor high-school preparation. Participants were grateful for the opportunity to attend an elite college and were proud and relatively forthcoming about their financial aid status because they considered it a reward for their intellectual ability. Three main conclusions derive from the findings of this research: Low-income students' tendency to make a distinction between socioeconomic and financial aid status; the notion of a new cultural capital hierarchy for high-achieving, low-income students within an elite college setting; and, a specific application of Bronfenbrenner's ecological developmental model for this niche population. The results of this study indicate that high-achieving, low-income students are flourishing in full need-based financial aid programs as a result of their own resilience and intellectual capital. Participants' experiences indicate that this population of undergraduates faces unique challenges and requires specific support services to equalize their opportunities vis-a-vis higher-income peers. From these findings, implications for colleges and universities and full need-based financial aid programs are discussed. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A