IWPR Statement on New GAO Report on Student Parents

Press Release

Contact: Jennifer Clark, clark@iwpr.org, 202-785-5100

Important new research confirms that student parents need better access to financial aid and affordable child care to complete college

Washington, DC—Today, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released an extensive report on student parents called, “Higher Education: More Information Could Help Student Parents Access Additional Federal Student Aid.” The report, completed at the request of Senators Patty Murray of Washington and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, confirms previous IWPR research showing that, while student parents represent a sizable share of the college student population, they often lack access to affordable child care and other supports that could help them complete school.

More than one in five undergraduate students in the United States is raising a child. Most student parents are women and students of color, and many are single mothers. Student parents have lower graduation rates than students without children, but they also earn higher grades.

IWPR’s research has shown that, despite the importance of child care access for student parent success, on-campus child care has declined over the last decade. While existing federal support for student parents is vital for many to enroll and persist in college, greater investment and information are needed to help the majority of student parents who are not receiving that support meet their basic needs, including their need for child care.

IWPR Study Director Lindsey Reichlin Cruse released the following statement on the report:

“GAO’s report is a tremendous contribution to the growing field of research on student parents, underscoring the importance of addressing these students’ financial and care needs for improving college graduation rates. College students with children make incredible sacrifices of time and money to go to school, but many do not graduate. Ensuring that student parents have the opportunity to receive adequate support for the high cost of attending school while raising a child is vital to meeting national workforce and economic demands, and will benefit future generations of workers, students, and children.”

Find more resources from IWPR’s Center on Equity in Higher Education and Student Parent Success Initiative.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts and communicates research to inspire public dialogue, shape policy, and improve the lives and opportunities of women of diverse backgrounds, circumstances, and experiences. IWPR is affiliated with the Program on Gender Analysis in Economics at American University.