Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education/Higher Education PhD

First Advisor

Tara L. Parker

Second Advisor

Cheryl D. Ching

Third Advisor

Kathleen M. Neville


This qualitative study applied the concept of Institutional Neglect to a higher education setting and explored how federal Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements, along with the implementation choices at a public university, facilitated Institutional Neglect for financial aid dependent students, especially Students of Color. This study examined how higher education administrators understood, made meaning, and interpreted federal guidelines established by the 2011 updates to the federal SAP policy. This study also analyzed how SAP updates changed the responsibilities and influenced the decision-making process of administrators. Framed in the tradition of transformative research, this single-site case study was conducted at a public four-year higher education institution on the east coast of the United States. The conceptual framework was drawn from two fields of research, Institutional Neglect, and Critical Race Theory. Institutional Neglect was used as an analytical lens to complete an inductive analysis for 22 participant interviews, higher education administrators involved in SAP policy development, implementation, assessment, compliance, enforcement, education, or appeals. Study findings include how the complexity of SAP policy required administrators to negotiate entangled university and federal policies. Administrators considered the intent of SAP to be fair and held value in motivating students towards degree attainment but because SAP targeted financial aid eligibility, administrators suspected inequitable consequences. An analysis of SAP outcomes confirmed disproportionate results between Students of Color compared to white students. Administrators were found to prioritize preserving financial aid, resulting in disparate college experiences based on a student’s ability to pay. The volume and complexity of daily responsibilities required administrators to work at levels considered unsustainable, meanwhile, workforce reduction expanded responsibilities and administrators developed informal networks as a strategy to manage workloads and advocate for students outside of standard operating procedures. The university’s inadequate infrastructures were found to reproduce and strengthen the consequences of Institutional Neglect because administrators were forced to strategically decide how and who to help. Overall, findings conclude that Institutional Neglect was the manifested outcome borne from the culmination of seemingly inconsequential, everyday decisions made by administrators, and that the implementation of federal SAP had disproportional and inequitable outcomes for Students of Color.


Free and open access to this Campus Access Thesis is made available to the UMass Boston community by ScholarWorks at UMass Boston. Those not on campus and those without a UMass Boston campus username and password may gain access to this thesis through resources like Proquest Dissertations & Theses Global or through Interlibrary Loan. If you have a UMass Boston campus username and password and would like to download this work from off-campus, click on the "Off-Campus UMass Boston Users" link above.