"I've done the right thing"
Name: Allison Pompey
Age: 32
Hometown: Baltimore
Occupation: Government contractor and doctoral student

We're originally from Guyana. My father moved here so we could get a better education. My dad bought a house and a car, sent us to school and all of those kinds of things.

Owning a house is not even an option for me.

I thought if I took certain steps ahead of the game to improve my career chances and earning potential, it would be a great idea. It seems that despite all of my hard work and credentials, I can't seem to get ahead financially. Although I believe that my skills and education will allow me to be as well off as my dad, if not better, I don't foresee reaching that point at the same age that he did.

In this country you have that mentality that if you work hard and do what you are supposed to, eventually the things you want, you are going to get. I still have that belief, but it is really frustrating. I've done the right thing my whole life. I'm not seeing the correlation between my efforts and sacrifices and the outcomes.

By Tami Luhby @CNNMoney - Last updated January 23 2012: 4:56 PM ET
Middle class dropouts

Nearly a third of Americans who grow up middle class face downward mobility in adulthood. And that's before the Great Recession hit.