Murray, Duckworth Release Report Highlighting Challenges Student Parents in College Are Facing While Completing Their Degree
Report finds that many colleges do not provide student parents with information about options to increase financial aid to pay for child care, recommends that Department of Education work with schools to inform students of their options
One in five undergraduate students are parents, and many are struggling to find and afford child care
Murray and Duckworth have worked to expand the CCAMPIS program to make it easier for student parents to access child care while completing their degree
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) released a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) outlining how more information could help student parents across the country access federal student aid that could help them complete their degree. More than 4 million students pursuing higher education – or one in five college students – are raising children. Concerned that many student parents leave school without a degree and subsequently struggle to pay back student loans, Senators Murray and Duckworth requested this report in order to examine the child care challenges that they face.
“Parents who are trying to build a better life for their children through education should be given every opportunity available to access quality, affordable child care while completing their degree. This report shows there are simple steps that colleges and the Department of Education can take to better inform student parents of their financial aid options,” Murray said. “The lack of affordable, high-quality child care shouldn’t hold anyone back from achieving their dreams, and that’s why I’m going to keep fighting to expand access to child care for every family.”
“Parents pursuing higher education to reach their career goals and provide for their families shouldn’t have to struggle to afford child care. The price of college tuition is unreasonable as it is, and when you add in the high costs and inaccessibility of child care services, it becomes unattainable for too many,” Duckworth said. “Child care isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity and this report shows there’s more we can be doing to make sure student parents know their options.”
According to the report, an estimated 2.6 million student parents could be eligible to increase their federal student loans to pay for child care through a “dependent care cost allowance,” but may not be aware of this option. Since schools are not required nor encouraged by the Department of Education to publicize this option, two-thirds of schools serving student parents did not even list the option on their website. Additionally, the report noted that other federal programs that fund child care services for low-income families, such as the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Head Start, are underutilized—or have barriers that prevent access—by student parents in higher education.
The report also noted that the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program, the only federal funding source targeted for student parents, helped 3,300 students afford child care, but an additional 4,200 students are on waitlists at colleges with such grants. Finally, the report indicated that it could not accurately assess the effectiveness of providing child care support at this time because of flaws in data collected by the Department of Education.
Senators Murray and Duckworth have long been advocates of the CCAMPIS program and making it easier for student parents to complete their education. In August 2017, Senators Murray and Duckworth, alongside Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), introduced legislation to expand the CCAMPIS program and help even more student parents manage the steep costs of child care. Last year, after Senators Murray and Duckworth led efforts to secure a historic funding increase for the CCAMPIS program they also successfully urged the Department of Education to use the funds to expand the program and serve more students.
Read the full GAO’s report HERE.
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