The 12 Best Colleges for Single Parents and Students With Children

Student parents face unique barriers. These 12 colleges offer the best resources and benefits for students with children.

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by Staff Writers
Published on January 13, 2022
Edited by Hannah Muniz

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The 12 Best Colleges for Single Parents and Students With Children

Pursuing a degree can be difficult for anyone, but students with children — especially single parentsface unique challenges that can significantly affect their odds of academic success.

According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, single mothers earn fewer degrees, complete academic programs at lower rates, and leave college with more debt than married mothers and women without children do.

This is why parents often choose to prioritize colleges offering enhanced support and ample resources for learners with children. The following list details 12 of the top colleges for single parents and students with children.

To rank these institutions, we primarily looked at the number and quality of resources created specifically for student parents. Major considerations included access to family housing, financial aid and scholarships, childcare services and assistance, academic support, and overall institutional reputation.

Other factors included extracurricular events geared toward parents and children, access to lactation rooms, and career and counseling services.

1. Misericordia University — Dallas, PA

With its variety of resources and structured support, Misericordia University is one of the best colleges for single parents and students with children.

Founded in 2000, the school's Ruth Matthews Bourger Women With Children Program aims to remove obstacles for single mothers pursuing higher education. The program provides free two-bedroom housing all year for up to four years. Single women with three or fewer children ages 2-8 may apply.

At Misericordia, single mothers get access to goal planning, academic support, career assistance, and counseling services. They also receive priority placement for the Federal Work-Study Program and internship opportunities, along with a 40% childcare subsidy (if eligible).

The program also offers access to an array of extracurricular activities, including camps, lessons, family events, and learning programs.

2. Endicott College — Beverly, MA

For nearly 30 years, Endicott College has overseen Keys to Degrees. Targeting young, single parents ages 18-24, this program provides financial support, housing, and childcare assistance so learners can pursue a four-year degree.

Participants are eligible for federal and institutional scholarships and grants, year-round room and board, and childcare and babysitting service subsidies.

Throughout the program, parents can access various support services, including mentorships, counseling, tutoring, workshops, and enrichment opportunities.

3. Wilson College — Chambersburg, PA

The Single Parent Scholar Program at Wilson College supports caregivers with up to two children as they pursue a full-time bachelor's degree. The program awards grants for two-bedroom on-campus housing for parents and their children, along with subsidized childcare and free meals for children at the dining hall.

Wilson's 300-acre campus ensures plenty of space for families, providing access to a farm, an equestrian facility, a playground, and a creek. The school also hosts various parent development activities, including parenting workshops and field trips to Hershey Park.

To qualify for this program, parents must have children who are at least 20 months old when they enroll and no older than 10 years old by graduation.

4. St. Catherine University — St. Paul, MN

Through its Access and Success program, St. Catherine University targets learners who lack access to basic needs like food, housing, transportation, medical care, and childcare. Student parents benefit from childcare resources and on-campus lactation rooms.

Learners with children under 12 can also enjoy access to grants, classes focusing on life skills and money management, child-friendly study rooms, and housing and food support.

Children of students can participate in after-school programs and enroll in the highly rated Montessori Program offered through the school's Early Childhood Center.

5. Smith College — Northampton, MA

Since its founding more than 150 years ago, Smith College has grown into one of the largest women's colleges in the U.S.

To support mothers, the college offers a variety of programs and resources, including the Ada Comstock Scholars Program. Open to women with dependents, this program comes with access to flexible course loads, career services, academic advising, and housing.

Smith also provides on-campus childcare through its Center for Early Childhood Education, as well as many after-school programs for children.

6. College of Saint Mary — Omaha, NE

For over 20 years, the College of Saint Mary has overseen the Mothers Living & Learning program, which is geared toward single women with children between six weeks and 10 years of age.

This program provides apartment-style living spaces, babysitting services, free meals for children, leadership opportunities, and special training and workshops for single mothers as they pursue their degrees.

In addition, students get access to the college's Single Parent Success program, which helps caregivers find schools, doctors, and legal services for their children. Parents can also enroll in a one-credit class on how to become a successful single mother and access subsidized childcare through the Spellman Child Development Center.

7. Mills College — Oakland, CA

Founded in 1852, Mills College ranks as one of the best colleges for students with children. Student parents can enroll their children in the nearly 100-year-old Mills College Children's School and receive scholarships and financial aid to cover tuition and fees.

The college provides a campus food pantry, health and wellness services, and academic support for parents. Students with dependents can also access special housing, including the on-campus Underwood Apartments and a parenting lounge.

Additionally, Mills operates the Student-Parent Support Program, which gives access to meal grants, reimbursements for classroom materials, and emergency funds.

8. University of Michigan — Ann Arbor, MI

One of the best public universities in the U.S., the University of Michigan offers a number of useful resources for student parents.

The school's student caregivers page summarizes some of its offerings for student parents, including childcare subsidies, scholarships, travel grants for students with children, housing options, lactation room locations, child-friendly activities, and on-campus children's centers.

Student parents at U-M can also participate in the Academic Coaching Pilot Program, which provides one-on-one coaching and activities for student caregivers.

9. University of Minnesota Twin Cities — Minneapolis, MN

A highly ranked public university, the University of Minnesota Twin Cities is another excellent choice for students with children due to its long-standing commitment to student parents' success.

Founded in 1967, the school's Student Parent HELP Center has exclusively served students with children since 1984. In addition to advocating for student parents of all backgrounds, the program provides many resources, including a student parent community space on campus, childcare assistance, family housing, and lactation rooms.

The HELP Center also offers support for graduate and professional students with children.

10. Ferris State University — Big Rapids, MI

Founded in 2009, the Students With Children Program at Ferris State University supports student parents by supplying an array of resources, services, and activities.

Participants can access mentorship opportunities, referral programs, and parent training workshops. They can also get help with securing financial aid, finding affordable housing and childcare, and using employment services.

FSU offers on-campus housing, dining services, and extracurricular activities for student parents. While student parents attend class, their children can visit the Early Learning Center for meals, social engagement, and learning opportunities.

11. Champlain College — Burlington, VT

A small private school, Champlain College is home to the Single Parents Program, which was founded in 1987. Through this, single parents can access many workshops and resources.

The program provides enhanced support for students with children through a special summer orientation, social events, one-on-one meetings with a coordinator, and emergency funding. Other benefits include free mental health counseling and tutoring, career advising, networking opportunities, and access to on-campus jobs.

Eligible student parents can also apply for the Single Parents Scholarship.

12. University of Washington — Seattle, WA

The University of Washington has developed several resources for parents, most notable of which is its Childcare Assistance Program.

Formerly known as the Student Parent Resource Center, this program helps cover the costs of childcare for student parents with children up to 12 years old. Parents must be enrolled at the Seattle campus and apply for childcare assistance each quarter.

UW offers a plethora of childcare and parenting resources on its website, covering topics such as off-site childcare, backup childcare, and children's learning programs. Students can also access information about lactation rooms, sister programs, and family housing.


Feature Image: Courtney Hale / E+ / Getty Images

Colleges often fail to address the unique needs of student parents. Here are four simple ways universities can support this group's academic success. Want to reenter the workforce? These seven tips cover applications, interviews, and more ways to ease the transition. Single parents have a lot to gain from earning their degree. Click through to learn about scholarships you can use to overcome financial hurdles.

BestColleges.com 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.

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