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US: Most colleges not providing enough support for student single mothers

student single mother and baby
It is possible to juggle motherhood and study, but colleges need to provide extra support. Source: Shutterstock.com

Everyone should have the right to education. If a person is willing to work hard in college, it shouldn’t matter what background they come from. But the bitter truth is, it isn’t always that easy.

At the beginning of the century, few single mothers felt able to pursue higher education. The good news is increasing numbers of single moms are now enrolling in college.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) reported the number of single mothers in college has more than doubled since 2000. Now, around 2.1 million single moms attend university in the United States.

The bad news? Very few of them make it to graduation.

“There are more single mothers than there used to be,” Barbara Gault, the vice president and executive director at IWPR, told The Atlantic. “Another reason is that for-profit colleges have aggressively recruited single mothers to attend their programs.”

Just 28 percent of single mothers complete their degrees.

Universities need to invest in social programs which will support the many vulnerable women they enrol. As of yet little has been done to help these women.

In fact, things are only getting worse. The Trump administration plans to cut the only federal aid program providing financial help for mothers. The aid currently goes toward campus-based childcare programs, including the Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program (CCAMPIS).

College is an expensive time for the average student. Equally, having a child is a huge financial drain on your money. Take two of arguably the most costly endeavors and put them together and it’s safe to say single student moms are unlikely to be rolling in cash.

“Average childcare costs a little under US$10,000 a year,” Meredith Kolodner wrote in The Hechinger Report. “For most people, that’s more than their rent.”

Juggling the costs of parenting on top of tuition fees, textbooks, rent, groceries and your usual student expenses, it is hardly shocking most student single moms struggle to stay afloat.

With over 60 percent of single mothers at university in the US living at or below the federal poverty level, something has to change.

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Worryingly, many student financial aid programs change student moms’ eligibility for food stamps and affordable housing. The programs often make mothers ineligible for these necessities. They are therefore unable to have financial aid alongside help with paying for rent or groceries.

For many, this means they are simply unable to survive on the cash they have. Putting their child’s well-being first, they are forced to leave college or are unable to even consider it as an option to begin with.

But some states have started to help.

The Atlantic cites Maine as an example. The state offers scholarships to single mothers who wish to become students. Included in the scholarship program is a stipend for childcare and transportation into university.

There are hopes more states will follow suit. But for now, single moms, hold tight. We pray help is on the way.

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