“College campuses were not designed with student parents in mind.” This is now a common refrain echoed among student parent success advocates. It must be acknowledged, too, that the U.S. system of higher education was not designed for women, Black people, anyone parenting while in college, or those who experience life at the intersections of all three of these identities.
Higher education is essential to accessing high-demand jobs with family-supporting wages and improving family financial well-being. This was true before the COVID-19 pandemic and is especially true now as the nation continues the process of recovering from one of the worst public health, economic, and social crises in modern U.S. history. Early evidence suggests that the pandemic exacerbated barriers faced by student parents, affecting their college plans.
In recent years, the goal of 60 percent of adults holding a postsecondary degree has been set as a key benchmark for the United States to build a skilled workforce and remain economically competitive. Engaging adults with some college credit but no degree is critical to reaching this goal.
As the Biden-Harris administration seeks to hasten the country’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, reforming the U.S. higher education system to ensure equitable access and attainment for all adults is more important than ever. The pandemic has disproportionately increased the caregiving, financial, and emotional burdens on student parents and their families—most of whom are mothers, students of color, adult and working learners, students with low incomes, and first-generation students [...]