From Housing Matters, an Urban Institute Initative:
For students who are also parents, completing higher education in an in-demand field can lead to greater opportunity and financial stability. Though a growing number of young parents are enrolling in higher education programs, postsecondary institutions are often structured to serve recent high school graduates who do not have children depending on them.
Parenting students juggle costs of tuition, housing, and child care while attending school. These parents typically spend 14 percent of their income on child care—twice what the federal government recommends child care should cost a household. Two-thirds of young parents balancing work and education have incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and parenting students are also less likely to be able to pay costs such as rent, mortgage, and utilities in the past year than nonparents. COVID-19 exacerbated barriers to financial stability and affordable child care.
These stressors can affect students’ sense of belonging and mental health. One study found that parenting students are more likely than nonparenting students to feel they do not belong on campus. Additionally, parents who had difficulty paying rent and other bills had significantly higher rates of depressive and anxiety symptoms than parents who did not experience these stressors.
Partnerships between higher education institutions and housing agencies—such as the Scholar House model—provide affordable housing, child care, family advocacy, tutoring, and other supports to parenting students as they complete their educational programs. Parenting students live with other parents pursuing education, creating community alongside programming.
Read Housing Matters' article " Scholar Houses Fill Void for Parenting Students," featuring the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority and Louisville Metro Housing Authority.