Date of Award

Spring 2018

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Bruce L Mallory

Second Advisor

Karlea Brunelle-Joiner

Third Advisor

Suzanne E Graham


Higher education in the United States has always been considered a pathway for individuals to achieve professional, personal, and socio-economic success. For-profit colleges claim that the for-profit sector provides a service to a demographic of the population neglected by traditional institutions. Since the enactment of neoliberal policy increasing the for-profit sectors participation in federally funded programs, there have been concerns raised regarding the impact of this sector on the lives of the students it serves. Additionally, as for-profit institutions struggle to adhere to federal guidelines, a number of institutions have closed their doors, making it necessary for students to find other options in order to continue their education. There has been little rich data collected on how students in the middle of their program fared after the school they were attending abruptly closed. This study focuses on the impact of policy decisions on student outcomes through a social justice lens. Using phenomenological methods, seven participants who were enrolled in a for-profit college during the time of its closure were interviewed. Findings showed the experiences of participants during the time of the closure. Findings also showed that participants bore positive impacts in their enrollment in the college including graduation, employment, and the ability to transfer to a traditional institution. Implications of findings suggest that regional accreditation, program accreditation, and history and reputation of the institution served as safeguards for student outcomes.