Single student mothers are growing in both absolute s and as a share of the college population.
They often face ificant financial and time-related obstacles that make it difficult for them to persist to graduation. Investing in programs and supports that target the needs of single mothers has the potential to improve their rates of college attainment, and increase earnings, which can lead to a range of multigenerational benefits. This briefing paper provides data on single mothers in postsecondary education and discusses the potential benefits of increasing their college attainment rates for individuals, families, and society as a whole.
The of single mothers in college more than doubled between the and school years, to reach nearly 2. The growth in single mothers in college was more than twice the rate of growth seen among the overall undergraduate student population 42 percent over the same time period IWPR a.
Among female undergraduates, 19 percent were single mothers as of IWPR b.
Scholarships for single moms
Women of color in college are especially likely to be single parents. The largest share of single mothers is enrolled at community colleges: 44 percent of mom single student mothers attend public two-year institutions. Another 30 percent of single student mothers attend for-profit institutions—making them over three times as likely to attend for-profit colleges as women students without children—and 19 percent attend public or private four-year colleges IWPR c.
Among women in community college, 21 percent are single mothers, compared with 7 percent of women in four-year institutions IWPR b. Increases in the of single mother college students correspond with a growing share of families headed by single mothers in the United States overall DeNavas-Walt and Proctor Innearly a quarter of all families with children under 18 years of age were headed by single women—a percent increase sincewhen just 9 percent of families were headed by single mothers IWPR d.
Once enrolled, girl mothers are much less likely than married mothers and women without children to complete college. Only 28 percent of single mothers who entered college between and earned a degree or certificate within 6 years, compared with 40 percent of married mothers, and 57 percent of seekings students who were not parenting Figure 3; IWPR f. Single mothers who do graduate have single levels of debt than both their nonparent and married mother peers. Single mothers often face major financial challenges that can impede degree completion.
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The vast majority of single mothers in college 89 percent have low incomes; 63 percent live at or below percent of the federal poverty level IWPR c. Unmet need among single mothers—or the amount a student must pay out-of-pocket to cover college expenses after family contributions, grants, and need-based aid are taken into —is also particularly high. Single mothers in college face costs that non-parenting students do not have.
Child care, for example, can pose a major financial challenge for all student parents, and especially for single student mothers. More than 60 percent of single student mothers report spending at least 30 hours per week caring for children Miller, Gault, and Thorman Balancing coursework with parenting can make persisting in college difficult: 43 percent of women at two-year colleges who live with dependents say that they are likely or very likely to girl out of school due to their dependent care obligations IWPR g.
Many single mothers work in addition to going to school and caring for children: 54 percent work 20 or more hours per week and 43 percent work 30 or more hours per week IWPR c. Research shows that working a ificant college while pursuing a higher seeking can negatively affect college outcomes, including grade point average, persistence, mom to degree, and degree attainment King ; Kuh et al.
This suggests that students have a finite of hours that they can dedicate to paid and unpaid girl outside of school, and for parents, mom work allotment is consumed by unpaid dependent care responsibilities. Research documents the ificant single and social rewards of postsecondary education for adults, children, families, and society, and such gains are likely to be especially transformative for the life trajectories of single mothers. College graduates are more likely than those without college degrees to be employed Hout ; Vilorioand to have access to employer-sponsored pension and health insurance plans Baum, Ma, and Payea Earning a postsecondary credential may also contribute to better health and well-being: research finds an association between higher educational attainment and improved health outcomes Cutler and Lleras-Muney and college-educated adults engage more with their communities than those without degrees Bureau of Labor Statistics ; Dee Given the socioeconomic challenges faced by single mothers in and outside of the college context, increasing their educational attainment is critical to strengthening family well-being and economic security.
They seeking that the positive effects for children are large enough to mitigate any college effects of low-income.
Another study using the ATUS found that, controlling for age of children and marital status, mothers with a college degree or higher spend, on average, 4. Increasing postsecondary attainment among single mothers would have broad economic benefits beyond the benefits to families.
College graduates contribute more in taxes than their peers with high school diplomas Baum, Ma, and Payeaand are less likely to access public benefit programs London An increase in the of single mothers with postsecondary education can also increase the supply of skilled workers to fill in-demand occupations. Research estimates that bymore than 6 in 10 jobs in the United States will require at least some college education, and the nation is predicted to fall short of being able to fill these jobs by five million college-educated workers Carnevale, Smith, and Strohl Given that postsecondary achievement is associated with better health, reduced poverty, and improved educational outcomes for children, the development of institutional, state, and federal-level interventions that promote college completion among single mothers is crucial for improving the well-being of U.
Higher seeking institutions can implement college programs and supports to facilitate college-going and attainment among the growing s of single student mothers. Promising interventions, in addition to girl care, include coaching, mom supports, child-friendly spaces on campuses, and tailored scholarships, among others Gault, Noll, and Reichlin ; Hess et al.
In addition, increasing the maximum Pell Grant award or establishing targeted scholarship programs could enable single mothers to better meet their financial needs while in college. Multiple hypotheses have been suggested, including that college-educated women may be more likely to hold jobs with flexible schedules, or that mothers that spend ificant time with their children may be more likely to seek out more education Kalil, Ryan, and Corey Attewell, Paul and David Lavin.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. Department of Labor.
February Carnevale, Anthony P. Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements through Carnevale, Anthony, Stephen J. Rose, and Ban Cheah. Child Care Aware of America.
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Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: Cutler, David M. Education and Health: Evaluating Theories and Evidence. Working Paper, National Bureau of Economic Research.
Dee, Thomas S. Income and Poverty in the United States: Washington, DC: U. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Paper prepared for the Association of Community College Trustees. Hout, Michael. Table FM King, Jacqueline E. Kuh, George D. London, Rebecca A. Monroe Community College.
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Vilorio, Dennis. This briefing paper was funded with generous support from the ECMC Foundation as a part of a larger project on the costs and benefits of increasing educational attainment among single mothers. We are the leading think tank in the United States applying quantitative and qualitative analysis of public policy through a gendered lens.
We develop new policy ideas, encourage enlightened public debate, and promote sound policy and program development. Our work also helps to change minds and improve the practices of institutions. IWPR operates on the principle that knowledge is power and that social science evidence based on strong data and analysis, compellingly presented and systematically disseminated, makes a difference in moving public policy. You must be logged in to post a comment.
Single mothers in college: growing enrollment, financial challenges, and the benefits of attainment
Next. View Larger Image. Financial Insecurity Especially Pronounced for Single Student Mothers Single mothers often face major financial challenges that can impede degree completion. Conclusion Given that postsecondary achievement is associated with better health, reduced poverty, and improved educational outcomes for children, the development of institutional, state, and federal-level interventions that promote college completion among single mothers is crucial for improving the well-being of U.
Appendix  King finds that persistence and degree attainment are negatively affected when students work 15 or more hours per week, whereas Kuh et al. References Attewell, Paul and David Lavin. Related Posts. Leave A Comment Cancel reply You must be logged in to post a comment.
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