According to a 2011 report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), there are nearly 4 million student parents currently enrolled as undergraduates in U.S. colleges and universities; this represents roughly one-quarter of all undergraduates.
A large number of higher-learning institutions have adopted child care programs. EducationDepartment.org notes more than 1,500 colleges, universities, and vocational schools that offer child care for not only students, but also faculty members (and in many cases, community residents) with children. However, some schools have gone to greater lengths than the rest to further support their student parent population.
This list from BestColleges ranks 54 colleges and universities that provide a specific set of amenities for students with children, while still managing to be relatively inexpensive in terms of tuition and administrative fees. Our goal with this list is to provide a resource for parents of young children who would like to enroll in an accredited college program, but are unsure which campus will provide the best fit for their families.
All 54 colleges and universities on our list meet the following criteria:
- Each entry is a not-for-profit school with four-year programs
- On-campus child care services are available to students
- Evening and weekend courses are offered for students who cannot attend daytime classes
- A certain number of on- and/or off-campus housing units are specifically geared toward student families
- The net cost for students earning a degree is below the national average of $48,000 per year.
Speaking to the last data point, net cost refers to the school’s sticker price (the amount of money spent on tuition, books, administrative fees, and other academic costs) minus the amount of financial aid (scholarships, grants, etc.) that the student will not be required to pay back after graduation.
If the annual cost of earning a degree is $60,000, for instance, and the student incurs $10,000 in non-repaid financial aid, then the net cost would be $50,000. The schools on this list are ranked in ascending order of their annual net price; this was the only data point that influenced the sequence of the list.
Data pertaining to family housing was curated from each respective school’s website; all other data was obtained from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, which is managed by the National Center for Education Statistics.
How to Interpret the Data
It should be noted that only five private institutions made our list of 54, including the last two entries; the highest-ranked private school, Elmhurst College, placed 47th. However, this should not indicate that private colleges and universities are lacking in child care services ― only that their annual tuition tends to be higher than public universities.
Another important consideration is the city in which a given college or university is located. If a certain school did not make our list but the campus is located in a major metro area, then it’s more likely students will be able to secure reliable off-campus child care than those seeking out the same services in a small town or rural community.
Finally, please note that any on- or off-campus child care facilities you are considering should be licensed by the state in which they are located, and staffed by certified child care providers.