Publication Date

Summer 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



First Advisor

Sonya Lorelle, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Rebecca Michel, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Shawn Patrick, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Larry Maucieri, Ph.D.


Approximately one-third of college students enrolled in colleges across the United States are first-generation students or those whose parents have not attained a post secondary degree. First-generation students are more likely to be students who are racially/ethnically diverse, low-income, and nearly four times more likely to leave college without a degree. College persistence refers to the students' desire and involved behaviors to maintain enrollment until degree attainment. A phenomenological approach was used to conduct face-to-face, in-depth semi-structured interviews to describe the essence of the lived experiences of low-income African American first-generation college students who persisted in four-year undergraduate programs. Results indicated a priority to support African American first generation college students with sources of self-efficacy.