Factors Predicting Attitudes Towards Government Support for Low-Income College Students

Student Classification


Faculty Mentor

Dr. Stephanie Teixeira-Poit



Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2019


Low-income students do not have the same access to higher education as their wealthy counterparts. Students do not have the option of continuing their education if they cannot find the proper funding to attend institutions of higher educations. Research shows that lower-income students are not equipped with the financial tools to attend college or even apply to these institutions due to economic disadvantages.(Cox 2016). Lower-income students face barriers such as completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which can be difficult for low-income students to navigate through.(Pulcini 2018). Low-income students who do enter the university system struggle to stay afloat due to various financial obligations such as books, groceries, and necessities. (Bastedo and Jacquette 2011). Lower-income students who receive government support may be more likely to overcome barriers to obtaining a college education. Our research questions: What factors predict attitudes towards government support for low-income college students? We conduct univariate and bivariate analyses of data from the 2016 General Social Survey, which consists of perspectives on social issues from 2,867 individuals in the United States. The dependent variable is attitudes towards government responsibility to give financial help to college students from low-income families. The independent variables include demographic characteristics and attitudes towards affirmative action policies. Demographic characteristics include gender, race, education, income, religion, and political party affiliation. Attitudes towards affirmative action policies are operationalized using two measures: (1) attitudes towards whether discrimination mainly accounts for differences between black and white people in employment, income, and housing, and (2) attitudes towards whether white people are hurt by affirmative action. Findings will help identify factors that predict attitudes towards government support for low-income college students. Recommendations will be made for interventions to help improve agreement that the government should be responsible for giving financial help to college students from low-income families.

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