Learn about the financial, childcare, and academic support that community colleges offer single parents and low-income families.
In a slow economy, single parents often feel the brunt of financial difficulties first. To help all students achieve their academic goals, a rising number of community colleges are providing single parents with special financial support. In fact, single parents may qualify for reduced or even free tuition that can help them increase their skills and competitiveness in the job market.
The Tremendous Costs of Single Parenting
Many community colleges across the country are recognizing that single parents face a greater set of financial difficulties than other students. Examining the struggles of single parents, Stamford Plus and Connecticut’s Fairfield County Community Foundation (FCCF) found that a single parent with one child, living in the Fairfield area, requires a minimum income of $58,000 each year—and this estimate only covers a parent and child’s basic costs!
Adding to this, the FCCF reports that 21,000 local households are comprised of a single female parent with a child or children under the age of 18. To respond to this large population’s needs, Norwalk Community College (NCC) has become a leader in the education field, providing new and innovative programs to support single parents.
On Campus, Single Parents Are Not Alone
Located in Norwalk, Connecticut, NCC has created a new Family Economic Security Program (FESP). With support from the Fairfield County Community Foundation’s Fund for Women and Girls, along with the NCC Foundation, eligible students will have access to NCC’s budget of $25,000 per year for the next five years!
Designed to specifically help low-income families who are supporting children, the program will provide a variety of services to guide students towards earning a degree and a higher paying career. While the Family Economic Security program will offer financial assistance, this unique venue also helps college students seek out the best careers for managing one’s professional life alongside one’s family. Additionally, students will have access to academic coaching and additional financial assistance for unexpected expenses, including childcare costs and transportation.
With this extensive support, 20 eligible students are enrolled each year, leading to a total number of 100 program participants. Additionally, after an orientation program, FESP students are provided with a one-on-one financial, academic, personal, and professional coach.
As NCC’s Dean of Academic Affairs further supports, the Family Economic Security Program offers a groundbreaking opportunity for the college to work with community partners and local families. “Over a five year period, this program will not only significantly improve the life chances of 100 single-headed families but also transform the way the college educates and supports individuals who live and work in our community.”
While the program’s benefits are limited to only a select 100 students, NCC is still helping an additional 1,000 students with specialized support. The additional 1,000 students will be able to take advantage of employee referrals, academic counseling, achievement workshops, career workshops, and personal finance guidance.
Additional Assistance for Single Parents
While FCC is certainly offering an outstanding opportunity for single parents and low-income families, students across the country can find similar opportunities and resources at their local community college campus.
For example, Coastline Community College (CCC), located in Fountain View, California, regularly holds a single parent Care Fair orientation. Students are provided with assistance to enroll in classes, work out an appropriate schedule, and even establish a child care program. Additionally, CCC also provides single parents with free tutoring and assistance in finding money for books and supplies.
In addition, nearly all community colleges provide single parents who are enrolled in classes with free or reduced cost childcare programs. To find out about childcare support, assistance, or other resources that can help cater to your family’s needs, students can meet with their community college campus advisor. Students should also find out about any potential scholarship opportunities or grants for eligible single parents. With a variety of support venues, single parent students should be able to find incredible resources to pursue their educational pathway.
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