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Bowie State University to Boost Support for Student Parents


Friday, February 3, 2023   

Students who are also parents face more challenges getting through college, but support for these students is getting an upgrade at Bowie State University.

Bowie State is one of eight Historically Black or Tribal Colleges and Universities to receive grant funding from the Aspen Institute to help improve outcomes for student parents. Research suggests that 22% of college students are also raising kids.

College gets more complex as these parents maintain access to child care and make time for school, studying and, often, work. Erica Hernandez, an assistant professor of psychology at Bowie State, said navigating these complexities can create obstacles to finishing their degree.

"Student parents are at risk to have lower graduation rates than their non-parenting peers, even though their GPA is the same or higher than students without children," she said. "It's just a matter of completing educational goals."

The $75,000 grant will go toward expanding access to child care, improving academic supports, and increasing opportunities for students with kids to participate in campus life.

Perhaps the greatest challenge for student parents is finding and paying for child care. Hernandez said the university is working to help them on both fronts.

"In our county, in Prince George's County, Maryland, infant child-care especially costs more than college tuition," she said. "So, helping students not only find child care - because it's very difficult to find those infant spots - but also to find subsidies to help pay for that child care."

She said some students may qualify for the Maryland Child Care scholarship. The university has also received a federal grant from the Department of Education to add to the state subsidy, to cover any shortfall.

Hernandez said Bowie State is expanding campus social outlets for student parents.

"We have recently started a Student Parent Association, which is a student organization or club for students who have children, so that they can connect with each other socially," she said. "They have events, and I think it's been a really great step forward so that their voices can be heard on our campus."

Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.

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