So, you’re thinking about how to go back to school as a single mom. It feels like a big undertaking, and we’d never minimize it. At Complete 2 Compete (C2C), we’ve worked with hundreds of moms who have returned to college in pursuit of a better, more fulfilling life. In Mississippi, it’s more common than you’d think. After all, 45% of children living here live in single-parent families. That’s one of the highest percentages in the country. So, you’ll have plenty of company as a single mom going back to school, but of course, there are still challenges to overcome.
That’s one of the reasons we’re here — to offer hope, encouragement, and some real-life tips you can use as a single mom returning to college. Here’s some of what you need to know, from childcare resources to options to pay for it all with grants developed with single moms in mind.
Why Completing a Degree Matters
A college degree can help you build a better future for your family. Various organizations have studied the effects of a degree on people’s finances, careers, and well-being, and the benefits are clear. Completing your degree improves your chances of all the following:
- Higher average pay. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) crunches the numbers every year. In 2022, workers with a high school diploma made a median of $853 a week. Those with an associate degree made $1,005 per week, and those with a bachelor’s made $1,432 per week.
- More job security. According to the BLS, having a college degree means you’re more likely to have a job. Only 2.2% of people with a bachelor’s and 3.8% of people with an associate are unemployed. Compare that to 4.5% of people with only a high school diploma.
- A healthier life. A degree makes you 47% more likely to have job-provided health insurance, and employers contribute 74% more to health insurance. Better health care means a healthier, more comfortable life for you and your kids.
Also — and this is a big one — kids of college graduates are more likely to finish college themselves. In fact, they’re more than twice as likely as kids whose parents don’t have college degrees, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Go ahead. Show them you can do it. Contribute to the increase in generational change!
6 Tips for Single Moms in College
As you already know, single parenthood isn’t for the faint of heart. It can sometimes feel like you have to do everything on your own. But when it comes to school, you don’t have to go at it alone. We’ve compiled six tips that can help you find resources and allies that can help you in your quest to finish your college degree and build the life you want.
1. Financial Resources Are Out There
As a single mom, you might need money for college more than the next person. Fortunately, in Mississippi student financial aid is available from various public and private sources. Much of it is grant money, which you don’t have to pay back.
Start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In 2022, students received more than $111 billion in federal financial assistance, according to the FAFSA annual report.
FAFSA funding is need-based, and almost every applicant gets something. Deadlines and opportunities change often, so always check the US Department of Education Student Aid website for eligibility specifics.
Also, many non-profit organizations sponsor scholarships and single mom college grants. Options for Mississippi student grants include:
- Adult Students in Scholastic Transition: A scholarship from Executive Women International (EWI) for adults with economic, social, or physical challenges who are seeking a college education. An EWI chapter in Jackson, Mississippi runs this scholarship locally.
- The Jeannette Rankin National Scholar Grant: Funding for women 35 and older with financial need who are pursuing a first bachelor’s, associate, or technical degree
Another option is the C2C Grant. The C2C Grant makes higher education in Mississippi more accessible for residents. It supports those returning adults with children who are most in need, so it’s a great option if you need a single mom grant for college.
2. Support Is Available
Thousands of adult students enroll in college every year. According to the Education Data Initiative, up to 6.6% of all American adults are enrolled as part-time or full-time college students at any time.
There are some resources available specifically for these adult students — including you. Those resources may include:
- Virtual tutoring
- Academic support labs
- Prior learning evaluations
- Adult learner considerations
- Communities for non-traditional students
Check out C2C’s Student Resources page for more information about these programs and the Mississippi colleges and universities that offer them.
3. Accessible Child Care Is Real
More than one in five college students are parents, according to a report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. The report includes many stories of student-parents who struggle to find affordable childcare that works with their school schedules. Some even considered dropping out because they couldn’t make it work.
That’s why C2C is committed to helping Mississippi students like you find accessible childcare. One option is the Child Care Payment Program, which you can apply for through the Mississippi Department of Human Services. The program offers childcare funding for low-income parents.
Also, some Mississippi colleges and universities offer on-campus childcare. The C2C Student Resources page, linked above, will give you a list of options to get you started.
If formal childcare doesn’t work out, look for other students on campus who balance kids and college. You might even build a valuable friendship in the process.
4. Family Matters
According to a medically-reviewed article from MedicineNet, single parents often form uniquely close bonds with their children. But you’re only one person, and there are a limited number of hours in the day.
When you go back to school, time management skills and focused multi-tasking are even more important. Carve out time for classes and homework, but also make time for fun with the kids.
Set aside family time every week, as often as is realistic. Even if it’s only an hour or two, that’s okay. It’s still time for your kids to have your undivided attention.
5. Scheduling Is Personal
As an adult learner, you’re in control of your school schedule. You can choose classes that work with your other commitments. As you’ll see on C2C’s Student Resources page, all 24 Mississippi community colleges and public universities offer night and weekend classes, in addition to traditional daytime hours.
Remote learning is also an option. Mississippi’s 24 community colleges and public universities offer online classes, and most have degree programs that let you complete your entire degree online.
6. Goals Drive Success
Did you know that goal setting is scientifically proven to help you achieve? Studies have shown that when you set challenging and specific goals, you do better than if you just “get out there and do your best.”
Decide what you want to achieve as a student. Maybe you’re committed to getting good grades and making the Dean’s list. Or maybe you want to complete a certain number of credits in a semester. You can also tie in career goals, such as completing a degree program or a set of classes in a particular field.
Whatever you strive for, write it down somewhere you can see it. When things get tough, your goals can help you overcome the challenges of being a single mom in college.
Start Today To Finish Tomorrow
When you’re going back to school as a single mom, use all the help that’s available. At C2C, they’re committed to making sure you get it.
Fill out our short registration survey to find out if you qualify. There’s no pressure and no obligation. Learn more about the free program and start making your college dreams happen.