Special Reports

Getting College Education While Raising a Child too Challenging for Students


Getting a college education is already costly, but what if the college student is a struggling single parent? College education becomes a challenge to obtain.

Currently, there are more than 4.8 million college students raising children, according to a report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research. This number, which is a million higher compared to statistics reported by IWPR in 2011, represents the students who all face the hurdles of child-raising expenses, in addition to tuition and education-related costs.

According to a report from Child Care Aware of America, the average cost of raising an infant in 2015 is around $17,062 a year, depending on the state. Coupled with soaring high tuition fees, one wouldn't wonder why only a few graduate with college degrees. In fact, only a third of all student parents, as they're called, are able to get a college degree within six years, reports NPR.

Many of these student parents are women (about 71%). Some of these women do not receive support from a spouse of partner, and all of them try to find ways to pay for both an expensive college education and child care expenses.

To help student parents receive higher education, a federal aid aimed at providing help for child care called the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) has been made available, specifically for low-income parents or families. Each state has its own rules or standards for eligibility, however, but according to a research from IWPR, it's definitely hard for parents to avail of the aid.

Here's what they found:

- In some states, applicants need to work a part-time job in order to qualify for aid;

- In some states, some applicants are eligible only if the college education they will apply for is below a bachelor's degree;

- In some states, aid beneficiaries need to maintain a level of undefined "satisfactory" performance to stay eligible for aid; and

- In some states, beneficiaries need to be meet a certain amount of credits or hours per semester, which means being a full time student and a full time parent at the same time.

"These rules and restrictions in a way just exemplify how little we're thinking about the educational needs of parents," Barbara Gault, vice-president and executive director of IWPR, said.

Although helpful, the CCDBG is not enough to meet all child care expenses that student parents face, and many of them still shell out thousands of dollars for it, Gault says.

"We need bigger solutions to these problems."

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