It seems like a no-brainer—if a single mother wants to improve her income and career prospects in the long term, she should enroll in college. More single mothers are going to college than ever before: In 2012, about one in five female undergraduates and 11 percent of all U.S. undergraduates—nearly 2.1 million students—were single mothers, more than twice the population that attended college in the 1999-2000 school year. According to a new report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, this rate of growth more than doubled that of the general undergraduate population.
But while these statistics sound like good news all around, a closer look reveals some truths that aren’t so rosy. An alarmingly large share of single mother students—30 percent—are enrolled in for-profit schools, making them more than three times as likely to attend for-profit institutions as female students who don’t have children.