Date of Award

Fall 9-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Rhonda Bishop

Second Advisor

Dr. Sherry DeVore

Third Advisor

Dr. O. Gilbert Brown


The costs associated with attending a community college have increased over the years, not unlike most sectors within higher education (Mitchell & Leachman, 2015). As such, community college students often find borrowing student loans a necessity in order to seek the academic credential they intend (McKinney & Backscheider Burridge, 2015). In recent years, it is community college students who stop or drop out without completing an academic credential, with little increased earning potential, who are at high risk of defaulting on their student loan balance (McKinney & Backscheider Burridge, 2015). While enrolled in college, these students are at-risk for completing a degree and demonstrate risky borrowing behaviors along the way, both a recipe for increased default and a life less improved, contrary to the promise of higher education (Mettler, 2014). There is little research on the perceptions of students who represent the community college student loan borrower (Cho, Xu, & Kiss, 2015); therefore, this qualitative study was designed to investigate the perceptions of the participants regarding their academic progress and their obligations to their federal loans as viewed through the lens of student choice (Perna, 2006). Interviews with student loan borrowers at a Midwest community college were conducted. The students in this study discussed their perceptions and understandings, and multiple themes emerged as issues with which they were confronted. Overall, the findings imply changes to the structure and delivery of information necessary for student loan borrowers needs modifying. These findings imply students experience a disconnect between information presented to them and recall of the information when asked. Taken as a whole, these findings may be useful to practitioners and policy makers as student loan borrowing behaviors are examined.


Copyright 2017