The Quiet Struggle of College Students With Kids

In The News

“According to a 2014 study from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 4.8 million college students were parents of dependent children in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available—that’s about 26 percent of all college undergraduates. The vast majority of these students, 71 percent, are women. But while the number of enrolled students who have children has grown (increasing by 50 percent between 1995 and 2011, according to IWPR), the availability of childcare on campuses hasn’t. In fact, the number of overall childcare facilities available at public colleges (where more than 60 percent of students with children enroll) has decreased over the past decade or so. In 2002, 54 percent of public, four-year colleges had on-campus childcare; by 2013 that number had dropped to 51 percent. For public, two-year colleges, those figures declined from 52 percent to 46 percent during the same period.”


Number of Parents Enrolled in College, 1995-2011

IWPR


“The reasons behind the declining availability in childcare are varied, potentially a mix of both budget constraints and academic culture, says Barbara Gault, the executive director at IWPR. “It’s taking a long time for institutions of higher education to undergo a culture shift that reflects the changing demographics, and to begin to view themselves as organizations that are family-friendly—not just for faculty, but for students,” she says. It might also be true that these types of facilities aren’t yet considered a financial priority. ‘Institutions are looking desperately for places to cut. Because there’s so little awareness of the prevalence of students with children I think it often ends up looking like something that’s an extra rather than something that’s essential,’ Gault says.”