10 Colleges That Offer Government Assistance for Single Parents

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Reviewed by Linda Weems I got started researching colleges and universities about 10 years ago while exploring a second career. While my second career ended up being exactly what I’m doing now, and I didn’t end up going to college, I try to put myself in your shoes every step of the way as I build out College Cliffs as a user-friendly resource for prospective students.

Updated: April 5, 2024, Reading time: 21 minutes

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According to the most recent data available, during the 2019-2020 academic year, there were 4.3 million college students raising children, and the majority of them were single mothers. Nearly half of them also work full-time jobs to support their families and studies and pursue a college degree to open the doors toward better-paying jobs. 

But maintaining a full-time job while paying the bills, taking care of the kids, and earning good grades in college is a real struggle! The physical and mental toll of juggling personal and professional responsibilities can become the catalyst for dropping out of college.

Fortunately, several colleges offer government assistance, primarily through FAFSA, designed to ease the burden of single parents in college. 

The Lowdown

Being a single parent while pursuing a college degree doesn’t have to be a lonely struggle! You will find plenty of colleges with the appropriate resources specifically designed for single parents to succeed in college. These resources include government assistance and institutional programs that provide housing, child care, and other forms of assistance for single parents. 

Why are these resources important for single parents? 

Unfortunately, more than half of student parents drop out of college before earning their degree! Even with their better grades and stronger motivation, there are barriers to education that many student parents find too difficult to overcome.

But with timely access to the appropriate resources, these barriers can be overcome, and earning a college degree becomes a reality. 

Colleges That Offer Government Assistance for Single Parents - fact
College Cliffs is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

The 10 Best Colleges With Single-Parent Programs, Including Government Assistance

University of Nebraska Omaha 

University of Nebraska Omaha

UNO’s collaborative approach to providing student parents with appropriate assistance makes it among the best universities! Student parents are encouraged to file their FAFSA to avail of federal aid, resulting in significant tuition reductions. UNO also has several institutional programs, including: 

UNO also has its federally-funded Child Care Center Scholarship program for low-income families struggling with the costs of child care. 

Endicott College 

Endicott College

FAFSA is also the primary form of government assistance offered to student parents at Endicott College. Student parents can also rely on its Single Parent Program that provides resources for their success, including: 

Student parents can also avail of discounted prices on gadgets, participate in single-parent on-campus community events, and participate in a college preparation course. 

Casper College 

Casper College

For single parents, federal aid, such as Pell Grants, complements the Single Parent Program administered by Casper College, designed to provide student parents with the tools to succeed in college. Eligible students are provided with financial assistance, emergency assistance, and referrals for campus, community, and health needs.

Casper College also provides eligible students with educational and professional guidance and access to its textbook loan program. When combined, these services allow student parents to become more independent, enjoy a better quality of life for their families, and improve their chances of earning their degree. 

Casper College also has the Neil and Doris McMurry Single Parents Program that provides financial assistance and academic support for in-need student parents. 

Front Range Community College 

Front Range Community College

FRCC’s FAFSA application and approval process follows the standards set by the federal government and offers state financial aid, including the Colorado Merit Aid and the Colorado Work-Study Program.

These are available to student parents in addition to FRCC’s Single Parent Program, a free program for students who are juggling their single-parent responsibilities and studies. The program is available to eligible student parents at the Larimer Campus. 

Every student parent is provided with individualized attention to ensure that the support, resources, and tools given will have the best impact on their lives. FRCC staff provides useful information about the financial aid options that single parents should take advantage of, including the forms and processes associated with these options.

Students are also provided with personalized academic advising, career counseling and planning, and referrals to support services like housing, child care, and tutoring. 

Wilson College 

Wilson College

Student parents at Wilson College are encouraged to apply for federal aid, such as the Pell Grant and FSEOG, the Presbyterian scholarships, state grants and scholarships, and campus employment. Veterans benefits and Troops to Teachers benefits are also offered to eligible students.

Along with the Single Parent Scholar Program, these government assistance programs will result in significant tuition reductions and vital support services for struggling students. 

Under the program, single parents and their eligible children can avail themselves of year-round on-campus housing and, thus, allow the former to pursue a bachelor’s degree on a full-time basis without worrying about becoming homeless.

Student parents also benefit from the easy accessibility of on-campus services, resources and events. The benefits also include subsidized childcare costs, free meals for children in the on-campus dining hall, and subsidized housing costs. 

MacCormac College

MacCormac College

Eligible single parents don’t have to pay for tuition at MacCormac College! The scholarship program is a need-based program available for Pell-eligible students, meaning student parents must file their FAFSA and cover up to $3,500 per semester. Eligible students must provide proof of their single-parent status and be enrolled full-time.

Applicants must also provide a single-page essay regarding their needs and career plans, and scholars must maintain a 2.5 GPA and earn their degree at the college. 

MacCormac College also makes it easier for student parents to earn their degree through online programs, while its convenient location in Chicago makes it easier for on-campus students to come to their classes. 

Santa Barbara City College 

Santa Barbara City College

Student parents will find several financial aid programs that they are qualified for, such as SBCC’s scholarships, the California College Promise Grant, and federal aid, including Pell Grants and Cal Grants.

SBCC also has its Single Parents Arriving Ready for College (SPARC) program specifically designed for single parents, a six-week summer bridge program designed for a smooth transition into college life. 

Eligible student parents are provided with practical support services, including academic tutoring and child care support, food vouchers for a single meal from Monday to Thursday in on-campus dining facilities, and a weekly activity every Friday.

Student parents also receive a $100 weekly allowance during the six-week program and a supplies-filled backpack. Successful program completion also comes with a $300 book grant for the fall term. 

College of Saint Mary

College of Saint Mary

Student parents are provided with practical assistance in navigating the wide range of federal and state aid programs available for all students at the College of Saint Mary. These include the Nebraska Opportunity Grant (NOG), federal grants including Pell grants, loans and work-study schemes, and alternative loans.

The college also makes it easier for single mothers with children between six weeks and ten years to earn their degrees while in on-campus housing. 

The Mothers Living & Learning Program provides eligible single mothers with suite-style living accommodations, including free laundry services, child care, and development services through the on-campus Spellman Child Development Center, and academic support. Student parents also receive leadership opportunities and living and learning workshops designed to enhance their life skills. 

Marian University

Marian University

Merit-based and partnership scholarships are offered to eligible students at Marian University, and these can be as high as $15,000 a year and offered to freshman, current, and transfer students.

Examples include the Academic Achievement Award, Trustee Scholarship, and Back to School Scholarship, aside from the federal and state aid offered to students in private schools. 

Marian University also has its single parent-specific Working Families Grant Program that accepts applications from students with the primary custody of their children and enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program. Eligible student parents receive financial assistance with tuition, child care, rent and food, emergency assistance, stipend grants, and support services.

Champlain College

Champlain College

Nearly 97% of students at Champlain College receive financial aid from the federal and state governments and the institution itself. The Single Parents Scholarship is notable since it’s specifically intended for Pell-eligible single parents in the Single Parents Program, which provides access to resources and support services for academic and life success.

Student parents undergo a focused orientation program, enjoy one-on-one counseling with the Student Resources Director, and get access to emergency funds, too. 

The Vermont First Scholarship is also a source of financial assistance for Pell-eligible students. When blended with other forms of financial aid, it can result in a free college education! 

The Importance of Returning to School for Single Parents

Single parents cite the opportunities for career advancement, including the increase in earning potential, as the primary reason for pursuing a bachelor’s degree despite the challenges.

This is understandable considering that there are entry-level, high-paying jobs that require a bachelor’s degree, and the difference in weekly wages between an associate and a bachelor’s degree holder can be as high as $367! The Georgetown University Center on Education & the Workforce study revealed that an average worker with a bachelor’s degree could earn $2.8 million throughout a working career. 

Individuals with a bachelor’s degree also enjoy a more advantageous position during negotiations for compensation packages and working hours.

There’s also the transferable knowledge and skills obtained only with a college degree. These soft skills include effective communication, critical thinking, and analytical skills, and the ability to take constructive criticism, adopt a growth mindset, and solve problems. These skills have high value in the workplace, meaning employers look for them in their applicants and provide a competitive edge in career advancement. 

Earning a college degree can also result in dramatic cuts in poverty experiences among single-parent families, thanks partly to the increased earnings. But it goes beyond the monetary benefits of a college degree!

Individuals with college degrees and their families are also more likely to contribute more taxes, engage in more community activities, and be healthier and happier overall. Their college education paved the way for more job opportunities and opened their eyes to the wide range of enrichment programs offered by the public and private sectors. 

On the flip side, single parents with college degrees also need fewer public benefits programs and, thus, provide society with substantial savings in public benefits spending. This means even more contributions from single parents who persevered in college despite the odds stacked against them. 

Available Assistance Programs for Student Parents from the Government

The government has several programs that offer financial assistance and other support for low-income single parents for their basic needs. These include financial aid for food, child care and housing, and education and healthcare.

Single parents must connect with their university’s financial aid office, local government agencies and nonprofit organizations to get reliable information about these programs.

Check about your eligibility, too, since many programs are geared specifically towards low-income single moms while others are open for single fathers, too. 

Educational Grants and Scholarships 

While New Mexico’s Opportunity Scholarship Act ensures college-free tuition in its in-state public, community and tribal post-secondary institutions, this isn’t the case in the rest of the country. Single parents struggling with tuition costs and living expenses must find ways to finance their education.

This is where grant and scholarship programs offered by the federal and state government and private organizations prove useful toward tuition reduction! 

The US Department of Education doesn’t have federal grants for single parents, but state-sponsored grants and scholarships are directly funneled to post-secondary institutions. You have to contact the financial aid office of your home state to get more information about these programs. 

A few examples of government-sponsored grants and scholarships that single parents should look into include: 

Housing Assistance 

Single parents struggling to put a safe and secure roof over their children’s heads will find these government-sponsored programs useful: 

Food Assistance 

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, single parents struggled with food insecurity. When college costs are factored in, it becomes an even bigger issue. When you know where to look, fortunately, you will find several government-sponsored food assistance programs, including: 

Healthcare Assistants 

Uncovered medical expenses can threaten a family’s financial well-being, more so for single mothers who spend more on their kids’ healthcare than on themselves. Single parents must then get health insurance through the following means: 

Ask the local authorities about the state-based and community-sponsored programs that offer healthcare services to low-income families and single-parent households, too. Check out private organizations that offer low-cost or free healthcare services, too, such as Walgreens Healthcare. 

Child Care Assistance 

Single parents face the added burden of paying for childcare services, whether for a babysitter or a daycare center. Such is the high cost of childcare services that is among the oft-cited reasons for dropping out! But all hope isn’t lost as the government has several childcare-related programs that ease the burden! 

Single parents should also look into state-funded prekindergarten programs that teach children their ABCs and provide childcare services. Look into military child care services programs, too, if you’re active military personnel. 

Tax Benefits 

While tax benefits won’t directly result in tuition reduction, these will add to your inflow of cash and decrease your cash outflow! Check out the following tax benefits: 

And file as a “head of the household” on your IRS forms, not as a “single” individual. Doing so may mean higher standard deductions. 

Effective Tips for Thriving as a College Student/Single Parent

With the abovementioned government-sponsored assistance programs for low-income single parents combined with institutional scholarships and grants, student parents have increased chances of earning their degrees! These effective tips will further boost their chances since they are relevant to students’ physical and mental health

Frequently Asked Questions

Do student parents experience lower or higher grades than traditional students? 

Many student parents have higher motivation and, thus, strive harder to maintain their grades. In a study, about 33% of student parents earn a 3.5 GPA or higher! In contrast, only 31% of students without children earn a comparable GPA. 

Are there advantages to being a student parent? 

Yes, of course, there are advantages that student parents report about their current situation! For one thing, many single parents have specific purposes and clear goals when attending college. The most common are becoming more competitive in the job marketplace, earning higher income, and self-fulfillment.

Their greater drive and determination enable them to overcome challenges that the traditional college student without dependents may be unable to. 

Many student parents also state that they wanted their children to enjoy opportunities that they didn’t have due to their own parents’ lack of higher education. Being role models that their children can emulate as they forge their way toward a better quality of life through a college education is also part of their motivation. 

For another thing, student parents are more likely to have work and life experiences that add greater context to their educational experiences. Their perspectives about life in general and the courses in particular also add a deeper meaning to the educational experiences of their peers. 

Are there special scholarships, grants and resources for single parents in college? 

Yes, the ten colleges mentioned above are only a few examples. At Mount Holyoke College, the Frances Perkins Program provides 25 single mothers under 25 years old with full-tuition scholarships. The University of California–Berkeley has a Bear Pantry where student parents receive a $30 gift card for food and a two-week food supply.

The Marriott School of Business of Brigham Young University offers scholarships to single parents in undergraduate and graduate programs. 

What should you do before choosing a college as a student parent?

Can student parents avail themselves of employer tuition assistance programs? 

Of course, they can! Many companies offer tuition assistance since it also benefits their profits and progress as an organization. A common option is for employers to provide eligible employees, including single parents, with up to $5,250 in tax-free money every year.

The funds go to tuition and other expenses, but they usually cannot be used for childcare services, room and board, and transportation costs. 

Ask about possible scholarships provided for single parents and their dependent children, too, from your employer. Just check the terms and conditions before signing on for any tuition assistance program.  

Key Takeaways