The image of the young, carefree, and untethered college student has been the norm for decades. Increasingly, however, reality looks very different. University lecture halls are filling up with older nontraditional students. These students bring with them job experience, adult financial responsibilities, and, in many cases, children. As part of her promise to make college more accessible to a wider variety of people if elected, Hillary Clinton has outlined a plan to aid student parents.
The Democratic front-runner would like to see more child-care centers at schools. Supporting student parents is a savvy move on her part, because this particular pool of voters is growing. As a recent report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research notes, a quarter of today’s undergraduate students—4.8 million—have children and more than four-in-10 are single parents. The number of student parents has grown by more than 1.6 million since 1995.
And yet the percentage of public two-year and four-year colleges offering child care has actually declined, from 53 percent in 2003 to 46 percent in 2013, while federal funding has remained relatively constant at about $15 million.
That’s “woefully low based on the need,” according to Lindsey Reichlin, a research associate with IWPR who has studied the issue.