Spring 2017



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Jason Miller

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Janis Johnson

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Elle Hallinan Pace


The research question addressed in this project was: What motivates low-income students to attend selective colleges? A mixed-method approach of online surveys and formal interviews were employed to better understand low-income students’ thoughts, motivations and experiences while applying to college and selecting a post-secondary institution. The author presents the related research literature on the challenges facing low-income students in post-secondary matriculation, explains the benefits low-income students can reap by attending selective institutions, and interprets survey and interview data to determine where and why low-income students apply to college. Findings suggest that low-income students need better access to financial aid literacy to ensure they matriculate to a college that is an academic match.

Research Methodology

Interview, Survey (attitude scale, opinion, questionnaire)