Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology

Committee Chair

Cuyjet, Michael J.

Author's Keywords

Schlossberg; Nancy K.; Welfare recipients; Coping; Transition theory; Welfare reform; Postsecondary institutions


Welfare recipients--United States; College students--United States


Using Schlossberg's transition theory as the conceptual framework, this case study explored and identified the coping strategies used by seven welfare recipients attending postsecondary institutions. Three participants were enrolled in the local community college, three in a local 4-year research intuition and one attended four-year private institution. The case study used semi-structured interviews and each participant were interviewed three times over a three-month period. The findings identified multiple personal and psychological barriers to persistence. The participants had histories of childhood sexual abuse, rape, and domestic violence. Friends and community agencies, rather than family, provided the primary sources of emotional and financial support. To extend TANF benefits participants used school loans circumventing Temporary Assistant for Needy Families (TANF) work requirement. Sources of stress included time management, problems with caseworkers and the recertification process and male relationships. The study found that prayer/ spirituality was the primary coping strategy used by all the participants. Other coping strategies included brainstorming/writing, avoidance, and wishful thinking.