Single Mothers and Higher Education
Every day in America another woman becomes a mother. In an average year 4,248,000 women in the United States become mothers (Ventura, 2012). “One out of every three American children is born to a single mother” (Single Mothers 2006).
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With divorces still at 856,000 a year (Amato, 2010) thousands of children are suffering from single parent families. Divorce is not only hard on children but also women. Most women do not have higher educations before the divorce and this causes financial hardships. Due to this hardship women return to college in hopes to seek a higher education and be able to provide better for their children.
The review of literature not only demonstrated the amount of stress one goes through but also the financial burdens they are faced with during this time. Literature came to show although the difficulties during these times were rough, but the outcomes were beneficial. Single Mothers and Higher Education If being a single mother is not hard enough, being a single mother going towards a higher education is even harder. Every day, women in America go back to school in hopes to achieve a higher education. Single mothers face many challenges when it comes to pursuing a college degree.
These single mothers are not only working they are also care for their children and trying to achieve a higher education. In reports from 2011 37% of mothers were single parents (Postal 2013). Not only are these mother struggling these children of single mothers are also struggling. They are born into poverty and have a higher chance of becoming teen parents along with higher rates of drop outs during high school years. Higher educations for these moms are one way they can help their kids beat the odds. When being born into a single mother household yours odds are stacked against you.
Right out of the gate you are “more likely to live in poverty and have poor development outcomes” (Postal, 2013). “Completion of an undergraduate degree is one way single mothers can mitigate the risk that they and their children will live in straitened circumstances” (Synnott, 2010). These challenges make it hard for single mothers to continue to push forward and some of them never see the end of the light where as others are able to finish and able to provide a life that would of never been possible without a higher education.
Over the last four decades the rate of marriages have went down and the divorce rates have risen causing a large amount of single mothers to be left in this world to fend for not only themselves but also their children (McLanahan & Casper, 1995). Reports back in 1999 showed that over 20% of families are being raised by single mothers (Capser & Bryson, 1998). The struggles that one faces in a single parent family are larger than those who come from dual families. Single parents struggle with not only poverty but also have poor support systems. In 2000, 25% of single-mother and 12% of single-father families lived in poverty, compared with 5% of married-couple families with children” (U. S. Bureau of the Census, 2001). The average income for a single mother in 2011 Census was $23,000 (U. S. Bureau of the Census, 2011). With an income like this they are barely able to make ends meet and most of them are on some form of public assistance. Poverty is not the only issue when coming from single parent families adequate support is also a big issues.
A lot of these children struggle in school due to lack of food, shelter or help at home. Although the government has put programs into place to help families who struggle with poverty these programs are just a temporary fix and when these women do get jobs they are barely able to make ends meet. Women who can get jobs have a hard time finding someone to watch their children. Most single moms don’t even make enough to cover a child care provider in order to make it to work. The quality of childcare is also at stake when you can only offer a small amount of compensation for their services.
So more and more women are forced to stay at home and live off the government until they are able to achieve a better education, or they are forced to work more than one job in order to make it. More and more women now days are the sole provider for their households. Without a good job they suffer tremendously that is why higher educations are so important now days. In order to obtain a higher education there is a cost and a lot of single mothers cannot afford that cost. Single mothers fear they can’t keep their household up and pay tuition too. Money is one of the most common problems many single mothers orry about. The government has seen this time and time again and they have discovered that women do not go back to school because of lack of funds and they have built programs catered to single mothers so they can achieve a better education. Since the government has been able to fund programs to help pay for higher education they are able to help these women make it through the system and come out on top. Not only has the government set aside special funds for single parents they have also put out scholarships and some colleges offer discounted tuition rates.
In a recent report from Action Project out of New York City they found “over half of workers make less than $10 an hour, over 70% don’t get health insurance through their job, only 17% have a regular schedule, and just 25% have used a paid sick day. It may be little wonder, then, that single mothers earn less than half of what households with a married couple bring in – $32,597 compared to $71,830” (Walton 2012). Single mothers on average are making only ten dollars an hour they don’t even bring home enough money to cover their bills then they have to pay childcare which takes up half their checks (Walton 2012).
Walton found that for an infant in childcare center it could cost as much as $20,200 a year in New York City (Walton 2012). Mind you these women are only making $32,597 a month that does not leave them much to live on during the year (Walton 2012). This is why it is very important for women to have a good solid education so they can make more than ten dollars an hour and can provide a better life for their family. Women who do go forward and get a higher education even if it’s just an Associate degree are better off financially.
On average women who graduate with two-year degrees are earning an average salary of $34,960, and some earn significantly more (O’Shaughnessy, 2012). With a 4 year degree they can start off in the low 40’s (O’Shaughnessy, 2012). In the long run 4 year degrees tend to pay off the best for single mothers not only do they make more but better opportunities. Although there are some two year degrees can pay out too. A lot of degree’s in the medical field like nursing start to pay out after you have a 2 year degree but once you hit the 4 year degree your salary can increase tremendously (O’Shaughnessy 2012).
Getting an education gives you a chance to move forward in life it also gives you opportunities that you would not have before. Now day’s jobs seek only those with a degree whereas before you could get into places without it now they demand it. Although it’s still possible to make a good living without a degree you are better off in the economy today to get one. Over the years more and more programs have been put out there to help aid single mothers. These programs promote education and show them their dream can become a reality.
When a single mother who makes $22,000 a year looks at college and sees one class cost anywhere from 400-1200 a class they don’t think it will ever be possible (Walton 2012). Many programs have been put into place though to help them through this rough patch in life and help them achieve their goals. San Joaquin Delta College has a grant in place called the Cal Grant this grant covers as much as 50 percent of your cost for school” (Parrish, 2013). In order to receive this grant you must have a certain GPA.
Another one of their programs they have which helps pay for tuition makes you be involved in the community programs to be eligible. Another great program that college also has is miracle mile association which helps single mothers though college with private donations. Another great program that was started at this college by a student who received the miracle mile was the Dome of Hope. Gwendolyn Primous was a student who got the grant and got inspiration to help others achieve the same goal of getting a higher education. Gwendolyn Primous stated: “I want to help people,” she said. I want to help them with their education and provide mobile tutoring. I want to help prepare people for work and break the cycles of habitual unemployment and working the system” (Parrish, 2013). It’s because of people like her who have been in the shoes and walked the life of poverty that understand the importance of these programs and the need to have them in place. Another great grant that has been offered to students who have overcome social and economic obstacles to obtain a higher education is the CONNTAC inc scholarship (Helen. 009). It provided students with 10,000 dollars to obtain a higher education. This program sees the obstacles one faces in order to get where they are and they want to help make the path easier by helping financially. A program called the Jeremiah Program has been put into place to allow single parents to achieve a higher education and fight the poverty they have been living in. This program was developed in 1998 with the philosophy “that mothers who succeed can life entire families out of poverty” (Quinton 2013).
They have living quarters for these women to live in during their education and the women who start out there make no more than ten bucks and hour but after graduation they are making almost twenty dollars an hour. It’s amazing what this program does for these women. This program not only gives them an education, but a better life for their children and family. There are many other grants out there for single mothers people just have to look and have to want to do all the paperwork to get them. Another well-known program is Pell-Grants.
These are based on your income and do not have to be paid back. The max Pell-grant is 5500 a year, although this is not enough to pay for college it can sure help along the way and cut down on the amount you have to pay” (Parrish, 2013). Last would be government subsidized and un-subsidized loans these are loans that are not based on your credit and can help you pay for your books, tuition and college related expenses. The key though is they do have to be paid back and the interest on these loans does add up.
There are several ways to pay for college and many financial advisors out there to help you achieve the goal you just have to want to do it. These forms of loans can add up fast and when you have to repay them after college you can find yourself in a bit of a bind with the interest rates. It’s good to have these as a backup but grants and scholarships are always a better route to go. As post-secondary education is not always the easiest to achieve it is something that once you earn it no one can take it away.
Zahn found in his studies in 2004 that those who go forth to get a 4 year degree improve the economic status for single mothers (Zahn 2004). Due to the amount of single mothers more and more studies have been done to show the importance of higher educations. With the advanced career more jobs will be offered to you. If you have a degree you are more likely to be chosen for an interview than someone who just has a high school diploma. The employer looks at those candidates as someone with specific expertise in that field.
When it comes between degree or no degree employers see the candidate as someone who is goal orientated and someone who will succeed because degrees are not just handed out. By obtaining the higher education you will be looked at in new ways and have a better chance at a better job. Statistics just another word for a set of numbers people fall into on a daily basis. The U. S. Census Bureau found that women are becoming the lead breadwinners for their families (U. S. Census 2011). Of these female readwinners two thirds are single mothers (Rampell 2013). “The single mom statistics which was carried out in the United States reveal that there are almost 13. 7 million single parents as of November 2009. These single parents are responsible for providing for around 21. 8 million children. Out of this figure an estimated 26% are of age 21” (U. S Census Bureau of 2009. ) With these numbers being so high it covers a large percent of our population. Single mothers are hardworking individuals that if given the right opportunities can go far in life.
With all the new programs they have out to help single mothers go to college and achieve a higher education it’s sad more people don’t jump on the band wagon and stick to it. A lot of people find excuses and I feel they truly don’t want to better their lives. Out of 12. 2 million single parent families in 2012, more than 80% were headed by single mothers (US Census Bureau, 2009). With single mother hood on the rise its our job to open their eyes and see the benefits of achieving a higher education and the opportunities that will be available if they are to achieve this goal.
There are many ways we can help single mothers walk across that stage and reach that ultimate goal. Donations are always a great way to get there. Most the time single moms don’t go back to school because funds are tight and they can’t afford to take care of children and get an education. With donations to programs like miracle mile association women are able to go back to school and get that education they deserve and their children are able to have a more financially stable house hold.
It’s never easy no matter what age you go back to school but just knowing your cost are taken care of is a huge burden lifted so you can focus more on the education and less on the how am I going to pay for it. Another great way we can help is to make people more aware of these programs because a lot of people don’t know they exist. Spread the word and let people know that this goal can be achieved in these little steps. Also being a support network for someone who has gone back to school can be a big help too because it is scary and it is hard to get back into the swing of things, but with help it is possible.