We all know that the cost of college is one of the biggest barriers to people enrolling in it. But for student parents, it might be an even bigger obstacle than we thought.
That’s the conclusion of a new report from California Competes that calculates “the true cost of college” for student parents. And there are a lot of them: 3.8 million nationwide, and 486,454 in California alone.
Obviously they want to take their education to the next level, but for many of them it isn’t working out: only 12% of student parents nationwide complete their degrees, the report said.
It also identifies the “hidden costs” of college as the largest culprit: many college cost calculators don’t give parents the right amount of aid they should get, and don’t really account for the full cost of college to a student parent.
Worse, many attempts by student parents to lower costs can backfire. According to media reports:
“(S)tudent parents pay more to attend a community college versus a four-year institution. According to the report, student parents at community colleges pay almost $2,400 more each year compared to those at four-year institutions.
That’s because, while the price of community colleges may be lower, students at four-year institutions receive more grant aid.”
That kind of double-bind also applies to child care: many parents would attend night classes in order to get an education while keeping their jobs, but they have far fewer childcare options at night, and so the idea just doesn’t work out.
This is a serious problem not just for the students themselves, who need an education, but for the California economy, according to Dr. Su Jin Gatlin Jez, executive director at California Competes.
In order to “keep our economy moving forward, to make sure people have good jobs and a high quality of life, we understand that we need to reach those older adults and figure out how to get them back into postsecondary and get them into stable, well-paying careers,” she said.
This is the kind of problem that Calbright College was designed to address. We have no hidden costs: our programs are free. Our classes are online, can be taken at the learner’s own pace, on their own schedule, and be completed in under a year. We also provide services that can help learners connect to things like childcare and get advice on financial planning. Like all of our learners, student parents who attend Calbright don’t have to do it alone, and don’t have to worry about student debt.
It’s great for student parents, and good for the California companies we connect them with when they complete the program.