Thursday, July 25, 2024

Report: Virginia Public College Policies Can Help Student Parents

One in eight undergraduate students at Virginia public colleges is also a parent. (Adobe Stock)

WASHINGTON — A new report examines how Virginia public colleges can help student parents.

The Urban Institute report reviews three policies schools can implement so student parents can thrive in college, and looks at the return on investment for each one.

The policies were a comprehensive student-parent support program, expanded grants, and on-campus childcare.

Theresa Anderson, principal research associate with the Urban Institute, said a comprehensive support program provides many benefits.

“A lot of time parents need to complete their education efficiently,” said Anderson, “because there’s a large opportunity cost in going to the school — because they’re missing out on time with their children, they’re missing out on time they could be working more.”

Other benefits include helping student parents break feelings of isolation. The scholarship and grant program helps student parents make ends meet while they get their education.

On-campus childcare also helps student parents enroll, since other studies show not having childcare is a massive barrier they face.

The comprehensive student-parent support program had the highest return on investment of all the policies studied.

Every dollar invested in it could yield almost $6 in tax revenue and public-benefit savings. By 2035, this could benefit the public by an estimated $1.9 billion.

Anderson said lawmakers can easily put these policies into action.

“Appropriating resources for student-parent support programs on college campuses would be very feasible,” said Anderson. “Texas did part of this by requiring colleges to establish student-parent liaison positions across the state, but this would be a step further where Virginia would be a leader in actually setting up programs across every campus.”

She added increasing the college scholarship program would also be easy, since it creates a new option for parents on an existing program.

For on-campus childcare, Anderson cited New York as an example — since that state uses Federal Childcare Development funds, with Gov. Kathy Hochul allocating additional money.

Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.

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