Date of Award

Spring 6-10-2016

Author Requested Restriction

Open Access (no embargo, no restriction)

Work Type

Masters Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS)


Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Emily Noelle Sanchez Ignacio

Second Advisor

Margaret Griesse


The purpose of this research project is to critically map the University of Washington’s institutional practices concerning financial aid and related administrative policies and procedures related to the FAFSA application. This research was conducted by using institutional ethnography as a method to analyze the difficulty of carrying out organizational duties under complex federal, state and institutional policies. It also considers how the process of carrying out these duties creates tensions for staff, and how the unintended consequences of power relations are produced and reproduced between the process of staff carrying out their duties and students receiving aid. Information obtained from the observations and interviews, has the potential to usefully impact and change policies that have unintentionally replicated injustice or inequality for students enrolled in, or planning to attend, the university. Equally important, analyzing and mapping this information allows for the facilitation of a greater understanding of policies, by disseminating the information through a website and social media outlets, where the maps of financial aid processes can be easily located and utilized.