Universities need to offer child care facilities, student housing
Posted by Jason T. Frost
November 30, 2015
Recently, I wrote an article for my college newspaper asking them to consider opening a childcare facility on campus for student parents.
In it, I reference statistics from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research that claim that only around half of all public universities in the United States offer childcare for prospective student parents. Broken down, the study shows only 48 percent of community colleges offer basic childcare services, and 57 percent of public four-year colleges. Of the 3.9 million student parents enrolled as undergraduates at these institutions, 57 percent of them are low-income earners. Single parents, primarily women, have the toughest time of it, often having to work 40 hours a week to provide for their families. According to this same study, only 6 to 7 percent of private colleges provide daycare services for students. UA, for example, used to house families in the Highlands facility. Now, they have no housing for families at all.
Even when a school does list a daycare service, as I found out when researching this story at the University of Alabama, most of the time these facilities are not free, require signing on to an extensive waiting list, and are more for the benefit of the program than helping student parents. This harms in-state students a great deal, but altogether eliminates potential prospects for bringing in out-of-state students (and their larger tuition rates) who cannot simply leave their child at home.
On BestColleges.com’s rankings of Top 50 colleges for student parents, smaller universities tended to fare the best, with the top three spots held by Purdue North Central (Indiana), the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and the Middle Tennessee University. The University of Florida, surprisingly, came in at 4th place, followed by the University of Washington. In some cases, scholarships are available for student parents.
Ultimately, more universities need to have on-campus child care options for their students. It could improve retention rates and bring in more tuition money. Most importantly, it allows people who have already started families to go to school and earn a college degree, which will not only provide them with a higher income, but likely help their children get a better education as well.