As the economic challenges facing today’s students gain national political attention, it is critical to focus on a growing proportion of our student population – student parents. Indeed, the numbers may surprise you: approximately one quarter of today’s students have children, and fifty percent of these students are single parents.
One major challenge facing young parents is access to childcare, with some estimates suggesting that we need 1 million more childcare spaces to meet the need of today’s student parents. Affordable on-campus childcare provides parents with a convenient service and the flexibility to be able to focus on the education they need to pursue a better career. However, states’ responses to these needs vary dramatically. In the highest performing states – California, the northwest, and Maryland – about 60 percent of college campuses feature childcare centers. In contrast, in the southeastern states, fewer than a quarter of college campuses in these states feature on-campus childcare facilities.
All told, the map above shows that only 34% of campuses with over 1,000 students report that they have an on-campus childcare center. Aside from the challenges of balancing a class schedule and study time around the needs of a dependent, the costs of raising a child on top of rising college prices result in graduating student-parents dealing with median cumulative debt levels 25 percent higher than student borrowers without children – 37 percent higher if the student-parent is unmarried. It’s not surprising when childcare and education expenses have risen ninefold from 2% of the total cost of raising a child in 1960, to 18% in 2013.
Student parents are not only working to improve their own economic opportunity, but are working to improve the opportunity of the next generation. Securing funding for campus-based childcare is essential for ensuring that today’s hardworking student parents can finish school and provide for themselves and their families. To read more about Young Invincibles’ policy solutions to help student parents, read our recent report, Finding Time.