Saturday, July 13, 2024

7 Awesome Ways Colleges Support Student Parents

Balancing books and babies are made easy with these programs.

The extreme pressure regular college students feel is cranked to a hundred for student parents (around 20 percent of US undergraduates) who juggle classes, jobs, and childcare. 

Thankfully, schools have recognized their struggle and imposed measures to lighten their load. From flexible class schedules to childcare support, check out different ways colleges support student parents. 

1. Online Degree Programs

A young mother attends online college classes while her young daughter draws using colored pencils beside her on the dining table
Offering flexible online classes where lessons are accessible anytime and anywhere is one of the best ways colleges support student parents. Photo: Freepik

Online college classes can be a lifesaver when student parents are needed in two places at once — with their child while attending college.

These flexible programs tend to be more affordable because some of the fixed costs (housing, transportation, and meal plans) are slashed, including what you would’ve spent on childcare. 

Investing in a reliable computer and wifi connection is a necessary expense, but free laptops and tech discounts do exist for some colleges. Just finish your degree, or else you’ll have to return or pay for the gadget. 

READ MORE: 17 Study Apps Every College Student Needs to Have

2. Financial Assistance for Student Parents

A young mother checks for financial aid and scholarships for student parents before returning to college while holding her baby
Creating ways to make college affordable and accessible for student parents will encourage them to pursue and complete higher education. Photo: Freepik

Raising a child and attending college can pile up into a scary mountain of debt. The solution for that impending burden will be to find scholarships and financial aid aimed at student parents

Federal student aid has been a constant companion for college students looking to lower the cost of tuition. There are also amazing scholarships for studying moms and dads, like the Working Parent College Scholarship or the Patsy Mink Foundation Education Support Award

Another viable option to save cash is to consider tuition-free colleges. But before you make any moves, it’s best to approach your college’s financial aid office to identify the best grants and scholarships for your situation. 

READ MORE: These 15 US Colleges Offer the Best Financial Aid

3. On-Campus Childcare Services

Three children of student parents playing in the on-campus childcare services
One of the best ways colleges support student parents is by providing on-campus childcare services for free or at an affordable price. Photo: Freepik

Student parents tend to skip classes to look after their child or shell out a monthly $400 to $1,500 for daycare to attend a college far from their residence. 

It’s a good thing that colleges now have on-campus childcare services that student parents can take advantage of at a discount. For example, Utah Valley University and the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee provide enrichment activities to children as young as six weeks while their parents are in class. 

Low-income young parents could also go for the federally funded Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program partners, such as the University of Kansas and Hagerstown Community College, which provide campus-based childcare services and benefits targeted toward student parents eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant.

4. Student Parent Housing Assistance

Student parents, particularly single mothers, need to be around like-minded people for community support, just as their children need peers as an essential component of their growth. 

Two-bedroom apartments in prime locations can burn through your savings, especially if they cost $1,317 a month. But did you know that certain colleges provide housing assistance for student parents? 

Single mothers can find free on-campus housing at Misericordia University for one year or until college graduation. Meanwhile, single-parent scholars at Wilson College can also live in a two-room suite with a private bath and no roommate except for their children. 

If you can splurge a little bit more, the University of California, Berkeley has a University Village composed of apartments and townhouses with a child care center. With this, you can enjoy time with your family while still being active at school. 

5. Single Parent Support Services

A single mother carrying her baby checks her laptop for her college's announcements of benefits regarding student parents
Student parents pursuing higher education will ultimately go for colleges that develop programs to help their situation. Photo: Freepik

Many colleges have beefed up support services to attract student parents seeking higher education.

Take, for example, Endicott College’s Single Parent Program, which provides scholarships for two consecutive semesters for single parents with children under 13. The program also connects student parents to affordable childcare services and community events on important parenting issues.

The College of Saint Mary can be the best decision for single moms since the Student Parent Success offering assists in locating necessary resources like a pediatrician, state benefits, parenting workshops, and on-campus housing

6. Family-Friendly Study Spaces

Student parents are master multitaskers, but it’s great to have colleges that can help lighten their load.

If no one else can help look after your child when you’re busy preparing for finals or when a group project deadline is looming, student parents can head to family-friendly study spaces available on campus

Howard Community College has a Family Study Room housed within the campus library, where children can watch TV or play games while their parents study.

Onondaga Community College also boasts of the Parent and Adult Learner Suite (PALS), which has a study or group discussion area, a nursing and changing room, and a children’s playroom. 

7. On-Campus Lactation Rooms

A female student parent prepares to feed her baby in the university lactation room
Lactating student parents need a safe space to feed their babies on campus. Photo: Freepik

A private room for breastfeeding mothers is typically required in a workplace, but it’s also becoming more available in colleges to support student parents. 

Registration and reservation of the lactation room may be required to ensure privacy and ample space, but many colleges are building multiple rooms to accommodate more parents. 

Private and public universities, such as the University of Nevada at Reno, Harvard University, and the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor, are known to have established multiple lactation rooms for employees and parenting students.

Good to know: Title IX is a law that protects people from sex-based discrimination in educational institutions or programs receiving federal financial assistance. Student parents, particularly pregnant or breastfeeding mothers, can use this as a reference to request accommodations if unavailable. 

Becoming a parent before securing your undergraduate degree doesn’t have to spell the end of your college journey. 

Colleges are now discovering and implementing ways to support student parents — guiding them to become present for their families as they work toward a better future. 

Awesome Ways Colleges Support Student Parents: Frequently Asked Questions

What are the ways colleges support student parents?

Here are seven ways colleges support student parents:

  1. Online Degree Programs
  2. Financial Assistance for Student Parents
  3. On-Campus Childcare Services
  4. Student Parent Housing Assistance
  5. Single Parent Support Services
  6. Family-Friendly Study Spaces
  7. On-Campus Lactation Rooms

How do you balance being a parent and a college student?

What are the struggles student parents face?

How can colleges assist single mothers?

What colleges offer services and programs for student parents?

How can student parents afford college? 

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