by Nick Anderson

But there is more to her story than defiant ambition. Ayala, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, got help from key sources. Her family provided child care and housing. Public higher education enabled her to start at a low-cost community college and transfer to the university. And she received a scholarship from a nonprofit organization called Generation Hope, which provides funding and mentoring to help teenage parents in the Washington region earn a college degree.

The need for such help across the country is vast. Recent federal data suggests that there are about 4.8 million parents in college, said Barbara Gault, vice president and executive director of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Those student-parents face steep challenges. Many schools offer little or no child care, and federal data shows that what care is available on campus has dwindled in recent years.

Many young parents, especially teenagers, skip college entirely.

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