Date of Award



© 2017 Terri-Lynn Hamby

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Brianna Parsons

Second Advisor

Michael Patrick

Third Advisor

Otto Hernandez


Nationwide, community colleges have a graduation rate average of only 18%. As a result, institutions continually look for avenues to improve student success, persistence and achievement. While retention programs such as freshman orientation, communities of learning, TRiO and mentoring receive extensive study to catalog the factors associated with increased student persistence, data on the Federal Work Study Program is lacking. The majority of studies about the Federal Work Study program employ a quantitative design, comparing the graduation rates of participants to the general student population. While a positive trend is identified, the understanding of “why and how” students persist when engaged in the Federal Work Study program is minimal. This qualitative, transcendental phenomenological study focused on the experiences of the current Federal Work Study student or recent graduate (2012 to 2016). A minimum of two semesters of participation on campus was required to qualify a participant as persistent. Five themes were discovered in this study, through both the words and experiences of the participants and through utilization of student persistence theory. The five themes are: The Fledgling Student, Making Connections, Academic, Social and Institutional Integration, Non-Monetary Benefits and Giving Back. The Federal Work Study Program allows the participant to work up to eighteen hours per week on campus and increases interaction with supervisors, faculty, staff and peers. These connections and learning opportunities were found to enhance the participants’ academic and social integration to the college culture, including discussion and future career planning. While participants in this study did not begin the Federal Work Study Program until their second year, efforts should be made to connect students earlier with the Federal Work Study Program to maximize the benefits of program participation.


Ed.D. Dissertation