Elvy Vieira

Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership


College of Education


Coaxum, James III


Community college students; College costs; College dropouts--Prevention


Community College Education Administration


Perceptions of community college affordability and the use of the payment plan as it relates to retention were examined during this action research project. The action research study conducted used six cycles to discover students' perceptions about tuition affordability, to understand the budget of the community college, examined staff experiences and opinions about students, and studied advisement strategies as a means to inform students of tuition payment options. The findings discussed indicate that students use payment plans at community colleges as a way to persist toward the attainment of their educational goal. Several factors were discovered through qualitative interviewing of students and consisted of intrinsic psychological factors, perceptions about community college, finances, and institutional methods of communication. In addition, institutional factors that helped with retention were examined, discussed, and cross examined against literature. Several strategies were implemented to improve awareness of financial options in the efforts to improve retention, including creating a culture of student engagement at a branch campus of an urban community college in New Jersey. The researcher's leadership style and espoused beliefs were also examined and discussed in a short autoethnography using a leadership style survey and reflective journals. Overall the topic of tuition affordability has taken central stage given the economic and budgetary constraints affecting community colleges and higher education at the time.