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ORCID Identifier(s)


Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work


Social Work

First Advisor

Vijayan K Pillai


Education has been deemed the "great equalizer" for the condition of man (Horace Mann, 1848). Studies have found that years of education and income are highly correlated--the higher the educational level, the higher the income (National Center for Education Statistics, 2017). Numerous studies highlight the benefits of attaining a college degree; however, college enrollment and graduation rates among young adults with foster care experience lag significantly behind those of their non-foster care peers. Despite increased policies and efforts at the federal, state, and local levels to improve the educational outcomes of this vulnerable population, poor educational outcomes are still prevalent. Although numerous studies have addressed the educational plight and outcomes of children and youth in foster care, limited studies have explored the postsecondary educational experiences of persons with foster care experience. Findings from this study addressed this gap and contributed to existing research regarding the postsecondary educational experiences of this vulnerable population. The purpose of this qualitative, descriptive phenomenological study was to explore the postsecondary experiences of 16 foster care alumni who attended an accredited, public, state-funded, postsecondary institution. The study explored factors that influenced their decision to enroll in college, obstacles that have hindered their college success, what has helped them to be successful in college, and what they deem necessary to complete a postsecondary degree.


Aging out, Academic preparation, College readiness, College success, Emancipated, ETV state tuition and fee waiver, Financial aid, First-generation, Foster care, Foster care alumni, Foster care liaison, Graduation, Institutions of higher education, Low-income, Postsecondary education, Retention


Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

Included in

Social Work Commons