Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children


Child care can be expensive for working parents, but it’s even more of a financial burden for parents who are in college. To ease this burden, the U.S. Department of Education awards grants to help low-income college students.

It’s a vivid example of how helping parents manage the high cost of child care also helps them — and their children — succeed in school and in life.

Among the challenges that parent/students face is “time poverty,” according to an Inside Higher Ed article, which cites a study that says: “Students with preschool-age children had only about 10 hours per day to dedicate to schoolwork, sleeping, eating and leisure activities, compared to the 21 hours that childless students had.”

The article adds:

“Congress increased federal investment in financial aid for student parents in 2016 by upping the funding for the Child Care Access Means Parents in School program (CCAMPIS), a federal aid program for student parents, from $15 million to $50 million annually.”

One recent grant winner is the University of Massachusetts, which has received a four-year, $1 million grant from the Department of Education’s CCAMPIS grant program.

“We are excited to launch this new program in spring 2019 and to remove some of the financial and personal barriers to degree attainment for a growing population of non-traditional, first generation and low-income students who come to college with kids,” Sally Linowski, UMass Amherst’s associate dean for off-campus student life, said in a press release.

As the press release explains: “Without child care support from family, friends or through child care tuition assistance, it is nearly impossible for a low-income parent to attend college and attain a degree.”

In Massachusetts, the need for this support is substantial:

“Of the 832 financial aid recipients at UMass Amherst in fiscal 2016 who had dependent children, 78 undergraduate and graduate students received child care tuition assistance from existing on-campus subsidy programs.” The CCAMPIS grant will help close this gap between current funding and actual need.

Other states are also using their grants to help college student/parents. Ohio State University was awarded a CCAMPIS grant of $354,082 to create a CCAMPIS program that “will provide high-quality, accredited child care services” to 45 low-income student/parents.

“The impact this has on families and future generations is huge. It changes the family trajectory immensely by setting them on a more solid path towards graduation, self-sufficiency and a life out of poverty,” according to Traci Lewis, the director of Ohio State’s Access Collaborative program, which supports low-income students as well as students who are single parents.

Salt Lake Community College, in Salt Lake City, Utah, is using its $1 million CCAMPIS grant to expand the school’s child care center by adding classrooms, hiring more staff, and expanding hours to keep the center open until 10 p.m.

And at the University of Louisiana Monroe, which was awarded a $122,626 CCAMPIS grant, Catherine Estis, the executive director of the school’s TRIO program, said, “Research shows that parents with access to childcare on campus are nearly three times more likely to graduate or pursue additional degrees within three years of enrollment.”

The bottom line: Investing in high quality child care on college campuses is good for children, good for their student/parents, and great for helping these student/parents become thriving, well-educated members of the workforce.