Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)


School of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name



African-American Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Josephine Bradley

Second Advisor

Dr. Henry Elonge

Third Advisor

Dr. Sandra Taylor


This study examines the extent to which the educational component of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act impacted African-American TANF recipients' access to postsecondary education in Jackson, Mississippi in 2011.

This study was based on the premise that policies within the legislation restrict opportunities for welfare recipients to pursue postsecondary education as a pathway to self-sufficiency. For welfare recipients who often believe that college is inaccessible due to financial means, access is especially important for them. Participants in this study were thirty-two African-American women receiving TANF benefits from the State of Mississippi who were either enrolled in a college program or participated in the job readiness training supported by the Mississippi Department of Human Services. A qualitative research methodology was used to analyze the data. The data revealed that there is total consensus among the participants on the importance of postsecondaryeducation as a measure of future economic well-being for themselves and their families. Findings specifically revealed that many of the participants strongly believe that policies associated with welfare reform have prevented or denied them full access to education and that some of the policies should be changed.

The conclusions drawn from the findings suggest that the 1996 Welfare Act impacted access to postsecondary education for TANF recipients in Jackson, Mississippi to some degree; and that after 15 years of stagnated welfare reform policies, specifically policies associated with work requirements, TANF recipients in Mississippi are longing for better educational opportunities that will allow them to enjoy a self-sustaining lifestyle.

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