Weighing the Alternatives: Financial Constraints and Early College Enrollment Trajectories Among Low-Income University Students. Peter Kinsley & SARA GOLDRICK-RAB University of Wisconsin-Madison Affordability & College Attainment in Wisconsin Public Higher Education July 8, 2011.
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Weighing the Alternatives: Financial Constraints and Early College Enrollment Trajectories Among Low-Income University Students
Peter Kinsley &
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Affordability & College Attainment in Wisconsin Public Higher Education
July 8, 2011
Tou: Male Hmong-American student. Wants to become a police officer and major in criminal justice. Lives with mother, father, uncle, seven siblings. Enrolled in four classes (12 credits) each semester during first year. Also worked 20-30 hours per week at local grocery store during that period.
Interviewer: Do you have any goals for yourself for next semester?
Tou: Yeah, don't slack off… you have to have 30 credits each year…this year I only have 14, and the next [semester] I can only fit four classes in. At night I have to come home before 1 pm because [that’s] when my baby cousin comes over, my aunt's son, and I have to babysit him. So I have to come home before 1. And then at 2 or 2:30 I have to go pick up my sisters from high school. My sister, my younger brother, my youngest sister, and my [other] younger brother. Around 3 I have to go pick up my twin brothers that's still going to middle school. And then, yeah, and then go to work.
Interviewer: Do you work full-time during the school year, too?
Tou: No, I actually work part-time. My dad makes me work part-time. I want to work full-time but he says it'll be too hard and since I want to become an officer in the future it's going to be hard already (laughs)… Every time I'm not going to school [my dad] would let me pay the bills or work full-time to pay the bills and stuff. But you can tell… he doesn't want you to, he just wants you to go to school. But sometimes he has to.
Anna: Female African American student majoring in accounting. Lives with mother in low-income apartment complex. Mother hospitalized with Lupus and lost job. Landlord made Anna reduce credit load to part-time in order to continue living at apartment during her second semester at college.
Interviewer: So you’re just going along, a full time student, and everything’s normal, and then your landlord comes up to you and says…
Anna: Yeah. She said she needed to talk to me about something so I went over there. She was saying that the lease said if you’re a college student you can’t live at home. It just really didn’t make any sense… It’s my first semester and you’re telling me that I can’t go full time, but three-quarters. Then like I didn’t know how financial aid really worked ‘cuz that was the first semester. I didn’t want to be where we had to pay or take out loans cuz I didn’t want to be in that situation.
Anna: I talked to my advisor at school about it and she had to type up a letter showing proof that I went down from full to three-quarters….even now I still don’t really understand it. But there’s so many things to be focusing on instead of me going to school… You know, my mom’s not working and there’s just a lot going on so sometimes I really wish we could move into a house or something where we don’t have to deal with that. And I just try not to think [about it]. And I figure that with my mom not working, and I don’t have an income, [moving] would just not be a smart thing to do.
Celina: Hispanic female working on prerequisites for pharmacy school. Very involved in Latina sorority during freshman year which lead to academic difficulties and academic probation. Successfully raised GPA by reducing credit load.
Interviewer: How many credits are you taking this term?
Celina: This term, like 14.
Interviewer: So is that the same for last term as well?
Celina: I think last one I had 12. Cause my main focus was to bring everything up, like my GPA straight up. It was like a booster, cause I took three science classes.
Interviewer: So you decided to take 12 because you thought that would help boost your GPA?
Celina: Yeah, and it did—I took three classes so it was good. I could dedicate much more time to what I needed to do.