Jeff Terpstra

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies

Committee Chair

Sebastian Diaz

Committee Co-Chair

Allison Dagen

Committee Member

William Hisker

Committee Member

Lauryl Lefebvre

Committee Member

Adriane Williams


Financial access and promoting diversity within the student population at colleges and universities are ongoing concerns in higher education. Rising costs and diminished financial support are raising the financial stakes associated with investing in a higher education. Research completed by authors like DesJardins and Bell (2006), Hossler and Vesper (1993), Kim (2004), McPherson and Schapiro (1991), and St. John, Paulsen, and Carter (2005), suggests there are differences in the way students from different race/ethnic backgrounds make their decision on whether or not to attend college as well as what type of college they attend. This quantitative study addresses the problem of how the costs associated with public higher education impact the enrollment of students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. Since financial resources can come in many forms and students from different backgrounds approach personal finances differently, there is a need for additional research to inform colleges and higher education policies on the best approach to making higher education accessible to all students. This study sought to fill part of this research gap by identifying financial variables associated with the enrollment of students based on their race/ethnicity. Chi-square Automatic Interaction Detection (CHAID) found that Pell Grant awards was the independent variable (of the 10 independent variables examined) most closely associate with enrollment at public four-year colleges and universities. Two additional variables of Amount of Tuition and Fees Paid and whether or not a student Worked During the Summer of 2007, were also found to be closely associated with enrollment at public four-year colleges and universities. Additionally, the study found a difference in the association of the independent variables with the dependent variable of enrollment based on the race/ethnicity of the student.