Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Fincher, Mark E.

Committee Member

Armstrong, Christopher C.

Committee Member

Coats, Linda T.

Committee Member

King, Stephanie B.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Community College Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Educational Leadership


The role of community colleges is to provide educational opportunities to all segments of a population regardless of academic proficiency or economic ability. This openess admissions policy is meant to allow equal admission to academic and career-technical programs for all students. Due to openess admissions, economically disadvantaged community college students find themselves being admissible to community colleges with uncertain financial ability to pay for community college even though it is at a lower cost than 4-year institutions. Community college students historically face more financial and social barriers than 4-year students in attaining higher education and thus have a greater need for federal financial aid assistance. Students attending community colleges participate in federal grant-in-aid and student loan programs at a higher rate than any other type of institution. With this greater need for financial aid assistance, community college students are still held to the same federal financial aid academic standards. Students receiving federal financial aid must meet the same grade-point average, completion rate, and eligibility limit requirements as their university counterparts. These standards impact students at the community college level at an even higher rate than those at the university. The purpose of this study was to determine if students who do not meet federal financial aid academic standards and are placed on financial aid probation can be retained at the community college level using an online intervention course. The knowledge obtained from the course could facilitate the selection of optimal and cost-effective intervention strategies. Determination is necessary in order to eliminate current online intervention, adapt the intervention methods, or continue supporting intervention through allocating resources to the program that may allow for expansion and outcome inference to future student populations. This study specifically explored the retention of students who do not meet corresponding Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) indicators through the inclusion of an online intervention course. Student data were obtained from online course outcomes over multiple semesters from a community college in the Southern Region of the United States, yielding quantitative data for analysis. Educational opportunities tend to be viewed in a dramaturgical or symbolic perspective and viewed as successful based on student outcomes. It was assumed that student outcomes are tangible, and the link between means and ends are clear, meaning student outcome attainment equals employment and life success. In this instance, a return on investment study is not intended, but rather program effectiveness in influencing student outcomes. This program can be considered effective as it provides causation for increased performance, subsequent retention, and positive impact on financial aid status. The addition of an online intervention course supports causation linkage. It also supports the correlation of predicting post-semester cumulative grade point average (GPA), and the performance within the course provides inference to the participant’s future status.