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Helping Single Moms Graduate College Considered Good Investment

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Single mothers with a bachelor's degree earn $1,082,059 in total lifetime earnings, $562,545 more than their peers with only a high school education. (Pixabay)
Single mothers with a bachelor's degree earn $1,082,059 in total lifetime earnings, $562,545 more than their peers with only a high school education. (Pixabay)

January 9, 2020

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nebraska would see a big return on investments that help single mothers graduate from college, according to a new report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

Lindsey Reichlin Cruse, the institute's study director, says the economic well-being of Nebraska's more than 10,000 college students who are single mothers, and their children, depends on getting a college degree.

Moms who graduate with an associate's degree are 50% less likely to live in poverty than a high school graduate.

"There are clear economic benefits to making sure that these women have the opportunity to succeed, and a little bit of an investment in their success will result in long-term benefits for all of us," Reichlin Cruse states.

The report projects that if Nebraska invests just $7 million to support 10% of single moms in college, the state would see a total economic return of $51 million through tax revenues and other savings. Graduation rates also would increase by 47%.

Single mothers with a bachelor's degree in Nebraska are projected to contribute $195,000 more to the state's tax coffers than single moms with just a high school diploma.

Single mothers with an associate's degree are expected to earn $7,500 more per year than single mothers with just a high school education. With a bachelor's degree, they earn $18,000 more.

Reichlin Cruse says the data shows there's a strong economic case for upfront investments to help single moms.

"Not only do single mothers themselves stand to gain substantially from earning a college degree, our state and national economies stand to gain as well, in the form of dramatically increased tax revenue and reduced spending on public assistance," she stresses.

The report's recommendations include increasing access to safe and affordable child care, and connecting more moms with federal programs such as Head Start and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

Colleges also can help by including child care costs when calculating financial need, and adjusting attendance policies when moms have to put their kids' needs first and miss class

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - NE