Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Education (Ed.D.)


Administrative and Instructional Leadership

First Advisor

Anthony J Annunziato

Second Advisor

Catherine DiMartino

Third Advisor

Ceceilia Parnther


Student loan debt within the United States has reached insurmountable default rates worth trillions of dollars. While the federal government debate lingers on student loan debt reauthorization legislation known as Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity Through Education Reform (PROSPER ACT), a vote must pass to finalize the provision for this legislative policy (Baime, 2018). Meanwhile the issue of high student default rates disproportionately affects minoritized, first-generation, low-income students attending public and private institutions of higher education. This exploratory qualitative case study research approach (Yin, 2009) of the Upward Bound Program, aims to examine the sense of awareness of financial literacy knowledge of high school college prep alumni. The goal is to acknowledge the importance of pre-college prep programs that promote financial literacy education among first generation student populations as applied to making sound financial decisions. The study begins by assessing alumni awareness of financial literacy, which includes any knowledge they have about their financial aid award packages, loans, scholarships, and grants. The study will investigate how involvement in TRIO’s Upward Bound program assists first-generation low-income students in recognizing the pitfalls of attaining high student loan debt as the result of exposure to content specific programs and workshops. This study is comprised of an in-depth analysis of twelve multiple cases with Upward Bound alumni, representing four target high schools, in addition to one administrative staff, two workshop leaders and two parents. The intent was to examine how the effect of being exposed to financial literacy concepts had on alumni’s decision-making process regarding their college acceptances and financial aid packages. Drawing from interviews, through field notes, observation, conversations, photos and pertinent documents. These findings will provide insight into first-generation gender and ethnic differences regarding financial education literacy. Additionally, this study will call attention to the importance of exploring the systemic changes to government and institutional policies including the approaches to student loan repayment and default policies that will curtail student loan interest rates and repayment amounts. Keywords: first generation, low-income, student loans, financial literacy, financial capability, racial capitalism

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