By Meredith Kolodner

The number of single mothers in college more than doubled between 2000 and 2012, but a minority of those mothers who enrolled actually graduated, according to a new report.

More than two million single moms were college students in 2012 – close to one in five of all women in college. But as more of these women sought degrees over the past decade, a matrix of financial obstacles got in the way, according to the report released Wednesday by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. These hurdles include working full- or part-time, the high cost of daycare (and decreasing availability of it on campuses) and housing.

Most states have struggled recently to boost the number of residents with degrees, both to alleviate poverty and to grow their economies. The report suggests that programs aimed at addressing the needs of single moms as well as other college students could help.

“The reality is that a growing share of today’s families are headed by single mothers,” said Barbara Gault, executive director at IWPR and one of the report’s authors. “To the extent that we can improve their educational attainment, they will be in a much better position to support their families.”

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