Ask the Experts

And Baby Makes Two

I feel a bit isolated and ignored, because I have child at college. Do I qualify for any help from the school?

We want to discuss your question, because over 26% of U.S. undergrads are raising a child. You are hardly alone in your struggle. Learning from other campus moms, we found the main issue is lack of recognition from colleges to provide: student health services, childcare and financial aid. Finding out what resources and benefits are available will reconnect you to campus life.

Attending college while pregnant or raising a child can pose severe hardships. Over 2-million women between 18 and 24 get pregnant every year. Naturally, most single college parents are women.

Nearly 5-million undergrad students are raising a child. Reports reveal over 60% of women with a child do not finish their degree. Overall, student parents account for over 25% of the undergrad population, and 13% of them are single parents.

With high-tuition and child-related costs, it is difficult to manage at all. There are no special discounts for student parents and raising a child can cost up to $17K per year in some states.

Single women parents at school are one of the most overlooked groups. Colleges do not provide child delivery at student health services, reports Powers and Santola, birth injury lawyers. As of this date, our research could not find any colleges with childbirth services. If you are having a baby, you seem to be overlooked, invisible or ignored.

Institutions of higher education are slow to recognize the change in demographics. Many universities simply do not consider student parents as a financial priority, and most institutions are seeking places to cut.

Another major problem for parents is affordable childcare. Many universities offer childcare facilities, but there is no guarantee of availability. Typically, the spots are filled by children of faculty and staff, with long waiting list for others.

Government funding for childcare has fallen and nearly every state has a number of other qualifications for child-care support. These can include minimum course load, satisfactory grades and work requirements. Independent child care can be subsidized by grants and loans. However, this adds to your overall student debt, which is more than 10% higher for student parents.

In his State of the Union Address, President Obama called for more access to college and the concomitant childcare for women. For low-income mothers, college is practically impossible to afford, with the need and cost of child care. It seemed a logical investment proposal, help single women graduate college, so they become qualified for higher-paying jobs. While the President’s speech was well received, his tax increases to fund the program fell flat.

The problem is a lack of awareness of the sheer number of students with children.

My mother was the one constant in my life… Barack Obama.

Martin J. Young is a former correspondent of Asia Times.