An exploration of HBCU first-generation and low-income student experience through the eyes of young alumni

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Stephanie J.C. Macfoy (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Silvia Bettez

Abstract: First-generation and low-income (FGLI) college student enrollment numbers are steadily increasing among American colleges and universities. The nation's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) continue to enroll and educate the largest number of African American first-generation and low-income students. As greater access to a college education becomes available, first-generation and low-income students from minoritized backgrounds are taking the opportunity to shift the trajectory of their lives and become the first persons in their families to attend and graduate from college. However, the experiences of these students as they matriculate through college are highly variable as compared to non-first-generation and low-income students. African American FGLI HBCU students require additional targeted student support services and depend heavily on their enrolling institution for basic needs. When basic needs are unmet, this increases the students' chances of facing challenges and barriers that impede their success, achievement, and college completion. Life After College is a qualitative study that examines how ten former first-generation and low-income students from six North Carolina HBCUs navigated college, their college experience as FGLI students, and which challenges they faced in college while striving to reach success. Yosso’s (2005) Community Cultural Wealth framework was used to understand how participants navigated their undergraduate academic progress from a strengths-based perspective. Findings from this study suggest that some African American FGLI HBCU students are extremely dependent on their HBCUs to provide basic needs as they attend college due to their families' inability to do so. In addition, they rely more heavily, than previously thought, on campus and student support services to help them matriculate through college. Findings also reveal that FGLI students can be low-income or very-low-income with very-low-income students being “extremely impoverished”. It is recommended that colleges and universities acknowledge these two very different levels of financial constraints and hardship and consider how to provide extra supports for very-low-income students.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2023
First-Generation Student, HBCU, Higher Education, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Low-Income Student, Student Success
Historically Black colleges and universities $x Alumni and alumnae
First-generation college students
Low-income college students

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