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Financial Effects of Work-First Policies on the Experiences of Low-income Students at Community Colleges SFARN, Philadel

Financial Effects of Work-First Policies on the Experiences of Low-income Students at Community Colleges SFARN, Philadelphia, PA, June 2-4, 2011. Julie A. White, M.S., Assistant Director, Student Services, Damon City Campus, Monroe Community College/Ph.D. candidate in Higher Education

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Financial Effects of Work-First Policies on the Experiences of Low-income Students at Community Colleges SFARN, Philadel

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  1. Financial Effects of Work-First Policies on the Experiences of Low-income Students at Community CollegesSFARN, Philadelphia, PA, June 2-4, 2011 Julie A. White, M.S., Assistant Director, Student Services, Damon City Campus, Monroe Community College/Ph.D. candidate in Higher Education Nahoko Kawakyu-O’Connor, Ed.M., Ph.D. candidate in Higher Education Warner Graduate School of Education University of Rochester Rochester, New York

  2. About Us • Julie • Financial Aid Policy • Community Colleges • Critical Sociological and Multicultural Theories • Mixed Methods • Gender and Health • Nahoko • Financial Aid Policy • Social and Class Stratification and Reproduction • Assessment and Evaluation • Research Methods

  3. Background • The Role of Community Colleges • Historical mission of access/equal opportunity • Critiqued (Brint & Karabel, 1989) as serving the function of tracking low-income students into low-paying jobs • 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) • Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF) • Shifted nation’s approach to poverty from human capital/education to immediate employment as path to financial independence (Grubb et al., 1997; Katsinas, Banachowski, Bliss, & Short, 1999; Shaw & Goldrick-Rab, 2006). • Work Experience Program—required by welfare recipients (up to 20 hours of generally unpaid work) to increase employability

  4. Purpose • The purpose of this pilot study is to • assess the feasibility of the study, • examine the warrant for the study, and • assess the design logistics and instruments • The purpose of the overall study is to • explore how work-first welfare policies, based on the Personal Responsibility Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, affect the lives of low-income recipients of welfare assistance who are also students at an urban community college in the Northeastern region of the United States.

  5. Research Question What role does the Work Experience Program play in the lives of community college students? In particular, what are the financial effects, especially as related to the cost of college?

  6. Theoretical Framework: Capabilities • Capabilities Approach (Sen, 1992; Nussbaum, 2000; Walker, 2010) • Capability to function “can be seen as the overall freedom a person enjoys to pursue her well-being” (p. 150). • Freedom of choice is inherently a part of this concept • “involves judging individual advantage by the freedom to achieve, incorporating (but going beyond) actual achievements. …These conditions can…be fruitfully seen in terms of the capability to function, incorporating (but going beyond) the actual functions that a person can achieve” (Sen, 1992, p. 129). • “Poverty is understood here to include lack of income but cannot be reduced only to this. Rather, it includes a lack of choices about the life one values and wants to live, the absence of food and other forms of security, political and personal powerlessness, the lack of respect and human dignity, and diminished access…to political and cultural human rights” (Walker, 2010, 487).

  7. Feminist Critical Policy Analysis • Draws on feminist theories, critical theory, postmodernism • Focuses on “policy and politics, with a recognition that political and institutional practices function to maintain white male power and privilege,” with the goal of making policy systems more “democratic and socially just” (Marshall, 1997, p. 18) • Prioritizes data gathered from the lived experiences of women

  8. STANCE “In every policy analysis and evaluation, in every policy formulation: ask who benefits, who loses, and how do those usually silenced and marginalized fare?” (Marshall, 1997, p. 22) What are the effects on individuals’ capabilities to pursue a life that is meaningful to them? What are the outcomes of the policy on the lives of individuals, not just for the interests of the state (Shaw, 2004)?

  9. Welfare Reform as Gendered Educational Policy (Shaw, 2004) • 96% of recipients are women; 85% are single mothers (Urban Institute, 2002). • 41% have not earned a high school diploma; 36% ended formal schooling with a GED or high school diploma (Urban Institute, 2002). • Must also give visibility to intersections with race; 69% of recipients are Black, Hispanic, Asian or Native American (Parvez, 2002). • Shaw’s study of 22 women community college students found the following barriers: logistics, gatekeeping, child support, child care, state control of education.

  10. Effects on Access • Only 30% of recipients can be enrolled in school (states may include high school/GED enrollment as part of that) • Recipients enrolled in PSE more than 12 months are excluded from a state’s work participation rates • Analyses have reported declines in enrollment rates of recipients of from 20% to 77% (Jacobs & Winslow, 2003; Shaw, 2004). • Marked increase in enrollment in short-term certificate programs (27.5% to 43% from 1996 to 2000) and decrease in Associate’s and Bachelor’s enrollment (down about 7%) (Jacobs and Winslow, 2003).

  11. Methods • Transformative/Emancipatory (House & Howe, 2000; Kamberelis & Dimitriadis, 2005) • Qualitative Inquiry • Interviews • Site • Community college in urban setting • Work Experience Program with designated advisor for students and several on-campus work sites • Participants • College students (3 female, 1 male) • Welfare recipients

  12. Findings • What role does VWEP play in the lives of female community college students? • Additional stressor in conjunction with school work and family responsibility • Barrier to further education • Time constraints inhibit academic success • Financial concerns • Constrainer to freedom and capabilities

  13. Additional Stressor • Family Responsibility + School Work + Work Experience Program = Stress • “The hardest part is trying to get the hours in (for VWEP). Because I have to give up study time and time to do my school work and I would really like to do more of my school work because I really like the material but I have to put the 20 hours in. 20 hours! That’s huge.” (Diane) • “I would think that the VWEP would help you get your [work] identity back- but … now? I can’t even find myself… I don’t even have time… I don’t… Some days I don’t even have time to go to the bathroom!” (Rhonda) • “It’s trying to run to three different places, and squeezing it in, and running around- it’s interfering with my studying… I think it’s just extreme- the 20 hours is extreme. I don’t think WEP is a bad program but to do this and 20 hours… it’s… a lot.” (Rhonda)

  14. Barrier to Further Education • Barrier to academic success • “Education needs to be the focus because clearly our work experience has not gotten us where we need to be.” (Diane) • “It’s important to work- but I feel like, let us focus on our schooling- so we can be successful- so we don’t have to repeat classes- and GET ON! Because the sooner I can get done, the sooner I don’t need help.” (Rhonda) • “One of the biggest challenges is trying to get all the [VWEP] hours in and do school work, especially because I have a curfew and I do not have internet access where I live…” (Valerie)

  15. Barrier to Further Education • Financial concerns (Diane): Keeping assistance or going on to four-year degree • “It's kind of like, it's a crutch (going to community college) and yet it keeps the county happy.  You would think they would support us getting the bachelors' and then we don't have to come back to where we were.  I mean 2 years and I in theory should be able to be off the system.  And I'm like, 2 years and I can be done with this and I don't have to worry about verifying, and that's what I ideally want, so...” • “I'm getting all this money to go to NC (4-year private college), and I hate to say no, but then, the county's not gonna help me.  They're not gonna support me doing that.  I've got $38,000 for the year to go to school, in grants and scholarship, $1500 in subsidized loans.  That's a real, that's a real honor, and I hate to, I gotta find a way to make this work.”

  16. Barrier to Further Education • Financial concerns (Diane): Keeping assistance or going on to four-year degree • “I only need 2 classes for my criminal justice and 2 classes for my human services degree, so I'm like maybe I should just have 3 associate's (including liberal arts).  It's a sociology degree, in a crazy kind of way.  I look at it and I'm like, ok, but people come back (to the community college) and I see that.  I know a woman who graduated from (a local four-year college) and she's here now and it's because of the county.” • “Now I know why people stay here 5-6 years, or graduate and then come back, but it's not like 3 associate's make up your master's.” (laughter)

  17. Barrier to Further Education • Financial concerns (Diane): Student financial aid issues • “I qualified for full Pell, but I withdrew from a  class in the fall for the first time ever, and I double checked with everyone that it would be fine… when I got my refund, I was like I'm short $1700, why?  And they said, well you didn't meet the requirements.” • “I'm like, wow, I wish I would have known this, or when I was asking these questions in the fall, because I had planned on that $1700, my car needs brakes, and that was going to take care of all of that, so now I'm taking summer classes again so I can have the Pell and I can have the loans,so I can take care of the stuff this summer, especially not knowing what's gonna happen in the fall.”

  18. Barrier to Further Education • Financial concerns (Diane): Student financial aid issues • “I've been taking them (loans) so I can pay off my car insurance, take care of car repairs.  I also pay the interest off on my loans from when I was in school before.  It's not a lot, but it helps.”  • “He (son) plays sports, and I have to pay those sport fees, and I can't deny him that, so I take loans for that.  Because what I get from the county doesn't cover that, it puts gas in the car at this point.”

  19. Barrier to Further Education • Financial concerns (Diane): Child care • “There's about $3,000/semester extra (after financial aid).  I have section 8, so I know my rent will be ok, but then I have to figure out my more important piece is the daycare. The county won't pay for my daycare if it's not an approved program.” • “My daycare's $125 a week, and that's the cheapest, because it's an in-home, and because of his behavioral side of things, I can't put him anywhere else, because they're gonna kick him out, so it's not worth getting his system confused, if it's something that seems to work and she's able to regulate him and handle him and give him what he needs, I have to find a way to keep him there.  And $125 a week those loans won't cover it, that's almost $500 a month just right there.” • “The county doesn't give you credit for work-study hours, but they don't count work-study towards your grant, so, you know and again, it's like, I'd rather have an income that they're gonna count as long as I have child care.  That's all that counts.  I can go without everything else but he needs his child care.”

  20. Barrier to Further Education • Financial concerns (Diane): Need to work • “So, I've been applying for jobs because I don't know what else to do, I really don't know what to do.  So graduation is supposed to be this great exciting time, and it's just full of anxiety for me.  It's not something I'm looking forward to.” • (about applying for part-time jobs) “It's all about being strategic, in what you're doing, if you want to get through school, and I hate to feel like that, but it's an opportunity (going to the 4-year) that I can't let go.  So, (if) I work 20 hours, then the county will pay for my day care, and I'll still be eligible for food stamps, Medicaid, and the portion of my rent, and I'll still have the cash coming in my paycheck.”

  21. Constrainer of Freedom and Capabilities • “Now that I’m thinking about it… I think it’s just that a lot of us, and I find that a lot of people in social service, we just don’t like to be told what to do… and when you tell us, we’re told what to do… we get our defenses up. People like to have their options… We like options, we like choices… you give us choices, and we’re a little bit more flexible, and things like that…” (Rhonda)

  22. Implications: Policy • Role of Community Colleges through Public Policy • Disincentives at policy and individual level for low-income students to complete four-year, non- “vocational” degrees. • “The county needs to be realistic and look at it like what kind of job can you get with an associate's degree.  Not many really, and they're ones I can get without the degree, and those jobs aren't paying you to stay off the system.  You still can't pay rent, buy food and keep your child in daycare.”

  23. Implications & Discussion • Transitional services at the 2-year, 4-year, public services level: • “We have transfer counselors for traditional students but for the non trads like myself, who's there to help? Because there's so much more to it than picking the right school.” (While this community college has a program for students required to do VWEP, the caseload for one advisor is up to 200 students; many community colleges do not provide this type of program.) • “Some of the schools that I applied to really looked at that.  One had a whole plan in place.  They'll help you, they'll pay for your move… they're really supportive on getting daycare services set up.” • “I'm like walking around an emotional mess, and people don't understand how serious this really is, it's really scary...I go next week to talk to my worker about the transition….When I talk to my worker about it, she'll honestly sit there and tell me to stay in school as long as I can, and I wanna laugh and say how can I do that?”

  24. It's tricky, it's tricky.  The easy part is getting good grades, the easy part is writing papers and getting good grades.  The hard part is surviving.

  25. Contact • Julie A. White • www.About.me/JulieAWhite • jwhite@monroecc.edu • 585-262-1665 • Nahoko Kawakyu-O’Connor • Nahoko.k@gmail.com • (585) 402-0678

  26. Implications (Santiago & White) • Develop targeted policies, programs, and services for low-income students in general, and for students with specific needs • Provide adequate aid to reduce low-income students’ need to work • Keeping students on campus via work-study/work placement could improve academic integration, reduce time involved in traveling to and from work, and ensure financial assistance (whether via work-study funds or maintenance of public assistance funding) • Improved student service staff training is important to ensure students are receiving accurate information.

  27. References • American Association of Community Colleges (2010). Community college enrollment. Retrieved July 14, 2010, from http://www.aacc.nche.edu/AboutCC/Trends/Pages/enrollment.aspx • Bailey, T.R., Jenkins, D., & Leinbach, T. (2005) What we know about community college low-income and minority student outcomes: Descriptive statistics from national surveys. Retrieved April 1, 2007, from http://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu/Collection.asp?cid=13 • Bensimon, E.M., & Marshall, C. (1997). Policy analysis for postsecondary education: Feminist and Critical Perspectives. In C. Marshall (ed.), Feminist critical policy analysis II: A perspective from post-secondary education. Washington, D.C.: The Falmer Press. • Bragg, D.D. (2001). Opportunities and challenges for the new vocationalism in American community colleges. New Directions for Community Colleges, 115, 5-15. • Brint, S., & Karabel, J. (1989). The diverted dream: Community colleges and the promise of educational opportunity in America, 1900-1985. London: Oxford University Press. • Center for Women Policy Studies. (2002). From poverty to self-sufficiency: The role of postsecondary education in welfare reform. Washington, D.C.: Center for Women Policy Studies. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED473125) • Grubb, W.N., Badway, N., Bell, D., & Castellano, M. (1999). Community colleges and welfare reform: Emerging practices, enduring problems. Los Angeles: University of California. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED460720) • House, E. R., & Howe, K.R. (2000). Deliberative democratic evaluation. New Directions in Evaluation, 85, 3-12. • Jacobs, J.A. & Winslow, S. (2003). Welfare reform and enrollment in postsecondary education. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 586, 194-217. DOI: 10.1177/000271602250224 • Kamberelis, G., & Dimitriadis, G. (2005). Focus group: Strategic articulation of pedagogy, politics, and inquiry. In N. K. Denzin, & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The Sage handbook of qualitative research (3rd ed.; pp. 887-907). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

  28. References • Katsinas, S.G., Banachowski, G., Bliss, T.J., & Short, J.M. (1999). Community college involvement in welfare-to-work programs. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 23, 401-421. • Marshall, C. (1997). Dismantling and reconstructing policy analysis. In C. Marshall (Ed.), Feminist critical policy analysis : A perspective from primary and secondary schooling. Washington, D.C.: The Falmer Press. • National Commission on Community Colleges. (2008). Winning the skills race and strengthening America's middle class: An action agenda for community colleges. Report of the National Commission on Community Colleges. Washington, D.C.: College Board. • Nussbaum, M. (2000). Women’s capabilities and social justice. Journal of Human Development, 1(2), 219-247. • Parvez, Z.F. (2002, August 15). Women, Poverty, and Welfare Reform (Sociologists for Women in Society Fact Sheet). Retrieved July 14, 2010 from http://www.socwomen.org/socactivism/factwelfare.pdf • Rhoads, R. A. & Valadez, J.R. (1996). Democracy, multiculturalism, and the community college: A critical perspective. New York: Garland. • Sen, A. (1992). Inequality re-examined. Boston: Harvard. • Shaw, K.M. ((2004). Using feminist critical policy analysis in the realm of higher education: The case of welfare reform as gendered educational policy. The Journal of Higher Education, 75(1), 56-79. • Shaw, K.M. & Goldrick-Rab, S. (2006). Work-first federal policies: Eroding access to community colleges for Latinos and low-income populations. New Directions for Community Colleges, 133, 61-70. DOI:10.1002/cc.228 • Shaw, K. & Jacobs, J. (2003). Community colleges: New environments, new directions. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science,586, 6- 15. DOI: 10.1177/0002716202250198 • Urban Institute. (2002). Long-term welfare recipients are more likely to face barriers to work than other welfare recipients. Washington, DC: author. • Walker, M. (2010). A human development and capabilities ‘prospective analysis’ of global higher education policy. Journal of Education Policy, 25(4), 485-501.

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