Child Care Cost Affecting Degree Attainment of Student Parents

Child care costs are impacting the graduation rate of many student parents enrolled in undergraduate programs on campuses nationally, a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report has revealed.

Quoting the most recent data, the report found that students 52 percent of student parents left school without a degree as compared to 32 percent of students without children. On average, half of the student parents spent nearly $490 per month on childcare.

In 2015-2016, the overall undergraduate student population with children was 22 percent out of whom 55 percent of student parents were single parents. About 64 percent o them attended school part-time while 44 percent were both enrolled in and working full-time.

The report attributed the burden of paying for childcare by many students to higher education institutions that don’t publicize the federal allowances available for such students.

“Some student parents could be eligible to increase their federal student loans to help pay for childcare by asking their schools to include an allowance for dependent care expenses in their financial aid calculations. However, schools do not always publicize this allowance to current and prospective students,” the report reads.

GAO reviewed websites of many colleges and found that two-thirds of schools didn’t mention such allowances.

In 2016-2017, the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) that supports the participation of low-income parents in higher education by providing campus-based childcare services provided support to 3300 students to cover the childcare costs. The report couldn’t evaluate the program’s effectiveness due to flaws in participants’ persistence in school and graduation rate.