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Community colleges often have low graduation and retention rates but are more accessible to individuals from low- and moderate-income backgrounds due to affordable tuition. Receiving financial aid, such as the Pell Grant, has a positive influence on ability to achieve academic goals. The aim of this study was to investigate impeding and strengthening factors that impacted academic goal attainment in community college students eligible for the Pell Grant. Data was collected through face-to-face semi-structured interviews with current financially eligible Pell grant community college students (n=62). The research team conducted thematic analysis guided by empowerment and strength-based theories. Participants reported on the impacts of having parents who are immigrants, economic factors, experiences with staff, and social support systems. Findings reinforce the importance of equitable policy and practice to enhance student completion rates.