Contact: Erin Weber | | (646) 719-7021

Washington, D.C. – The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) applauds President Biden’s proposal in the American Families Plan to make historic investments in students who have existed at the margins of the current higher education system, including student parents and single mothers.

“The Biden-Harris administration’s American Families Plan represents a bold step forward for building a more equitable and accessible U.S. higher education system,” Dr. C. Nicole Mason, IWPR President and CEO, said. “If enacted, the plan would help build the foundation for economic equity for all women and families.”

Access to quality postsecondary opportunities can lead to lasting family economic security and mobility. The American Families Plan’s proposed investments of $109 billion in free community college, $85 billion in increased Pell grants, and a $62 billion grant program to provide evidence-based wraparound support services, will be game-changing for parents’ access to affordable and supportive college pathways, and to their families’ chances of future success.

Over one quarter of community college students are parents and a third of women at community colleges are mothers. The majority of student parents—especially single mothers—have significant financial need beyond what is covered by current levels of student aid. Limited access to affordable child care, in particular, poses a significant obstacle to these parents’ ability to successfully earn college degrees—and contributes to their substantial levels of educational debt. Free community college will benefit these parents as will the increased Pell grant, though further investment in the Pell grant program is needed to ensure awards keep pace with inflation and are able to adequately promote the success of the majority of student parents who have low incomes.

IWPR appreciates the value of the American Families Plan’s proposed investment in proven completion and retention services and historic investments in childcare and universal pre-kindergarten. Both are essential components to ensuring parenting college students have equitable access to and chances of success in higher education. Ensuring child care and other supportive services are available on college campuses and to all parents interested in pursuing community college, including those who want to return to college after suspending their college journey, is also vital to achieving the plan’s goals of preparing a skilled workforce and building onramps to living-wage employment.

“Investments that expand student parents’ access to college and to family supports, like affordable, campus-based child care, have multigenerational implications, in addition to immediate economic benefits that will benefit us all,” said Lindsey Reichlin Cruse, Managing Director of IWPR’s Student Parent Success Initiative. “The American Families Plan represents an ambitious vision for the U.S. education system, with the potential to create life-changing opportunities for students who have faced the greatest obstacles to accessing the benefits that comes with earning a college education.”