Ways in which recent high school graduates understand financial literacy to makes decisions about future college or career pathways

The lived realities of low socio-economic status (SES) college-going students is an important topic for examination. The anxiety and complexity found in these students’ everyday lives leads them down a decision-making path that looks very different from their higher-SES peers. Previous scholarship has not used a qualitative approach to explore the financial connection between these low-SES students and their ultimate decisions for life after high school. The purpose of this study is to understand high school students’ college financial literacy and their decision to matriculate (or not) to a higher education institution. This study uses the participants’ voices (narrative) as the main data set. Three results were identified as a part of this case study: (1) the anxiety and complexity of pursuing higher education with a deficit financial lens; (2) building college financial literacy, the role of the guidance counselor, and (3) making it work, scattered awareness of all things financial.