By Rachel Hanson
MSCSA Executive Assistant
College is never easy, and it is more difficult for the nearly 25% of undergraduate students who are parenting while in college. Of the nearly 3.9 million undergraduate students who are parenting, 1.95 million of that group are attending public, two-year institutions. It is clear that a discussion needs to be had about the unique needs of parents attending our institutions.
To address the needs of student parents, Minnesota was one of only two states that took advantage of the Pregnancy Assistance Fund, or PAF. The PAF was authorized in 2010 as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and is funded through 2019. The funds from this grant were used to create the Young Student Parent Support Initiative (YSPSI), which addresses the needs of college aged pregnant and parenting young people. The University of Minnesota – Twin Cities and St. Catherine University used funds from this grant to expand the services already available to student parents. However, nine institutions started brand new programs. These institutions are:
These schools have worked primarily to develop programming on campus that provides social support and builds a sense of community. These programs include discussion around a variety of issues including financial aid, legal parental rights, and health care. In line with the health care discussion, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College has partnered with the Carlton County Department of Health to provide educational and health related services to student parents on campus. All these programs also have assistance in place for students in need of emergency funding.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Sue Fust, Director of the Student Parent Center, at Metropolitan State University to talk about some of the things students can do to get services for student parents on their campus. She recommended working with faculty and administrators on your campus, partnering with colleges that already have services for student parents, and working with your campus foundation to secure funding. She particularly stressed how important it is to get campus administrators on your side and how helpful it can be to connect your campus administrators with administrators who are already implementing programs on their own campuses.
If you have any questions about services available on your campus, want to share positive or negative experiences you’ve had on your own campus, or want to connect with campuses who have successfully implemented resources for student parents please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651.203-9463.