Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education


Educational Services and Leadership


College of Education


Monica Reid Kerrigan, Ed.D.

Committee Member 1

Steven Rose, Ed.D.

Committee Member 2

Lawrence Nespoli, Ed.D.


Academic Capital, Institutional Agents, Pell Recipients


Community college students--Services for; Student financial aid administration


Community College Leadership | Higher Education


The purpose of this explanatory sequential study was to identify factors associated with Pell grant recipients' persistence in a community college setting and to understand the influence of institutional actors on the formation of academic capital. Students completed a survey designed to measure the formation of students' academic capital (St. John et al., 2011; Winkler & Sriram, 2015). Then, survey participants participated in interviews to examine the influence of institutional actors and the role they play in the development of academic capital (Stanton-Salazar, 1997; Stanton-Salazar, 2011). Three meta-inferences emerged from the data that provided an overall explanation of the factors relevant to the persistence of Pell recipients. First, it was clear that financial aid processes generated enduring and existential barriers to the participants, creating feelings of powerlessness and a lack of agency over the process. Second, there was evidence of emotional distress caused by challenging situations during the participants' college experience. Through the encouragement and support of institutional agents, the participants overcame their difficulties; they developed confidence which grounded them in the academic community. Lastly, the third meta-inference revealed how the participants relied on their academic capital to develop their self-advocacy in a college setting. By using the information and resources mobilized by institutional agents, the participants employed more control over their college experience.