Nearly four million undergraduates, or more than one in five college students, are parents of children under 18. These student parents face—in normal times— disproportionate economic insecurity, difficulty meeting basic needs, and significant time and caregiving demands. Yet, in spite of these challenges, they are also incredibly resilient. Motivated to build a better life for themselves and their children through higher education, student parents excel academically, demonstrate exceptional time management, and are committed parents and caregivers.

Student parents are now coping with the closing of colleges and universities, rapid relocation from on-campus housing, transitions to remote instruction, potential or realized job losses, and child care and school closures, among other crises, as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As the effects of the pandemic reverberate throughout U.S. society, student parents’ vulnerabilities are rising to new heights, threatening their ability to keep their families healthy and secure on top of maintaining their studies remotely.

To ensure student parents and their children receive adequate support and remain engaged with their educational pathways, communities and policymakers must prioritize these students’ and their families’ needs as they craft pandemic response and recovery strategies.