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Childcare costs can make higher education out of reach for parents of Texas students

Balancing college and childcare costs is a major challenge facing student parents, according to a new study from The Education Trust. The nonprofit surveyed the costs faced by parents of low-income students in all 50 states. Nationwide, more than two-thirds of her parents of students live at or near the poverty line, and 52% are grant recipients.

Child support alone can be prohibitive for parents seeking a post-secondary degree, says Jinan Bitar, director of higher education research and data analytics at The Education Trust.

“I think what surprises people is that childcare is often comparable to or even more expensive than public school tuition,” she said.

This was the case with Isabel Torres, who started taking classes at Austin Community College after her daughter was born. Support from the Texas Workforce Board helped her pay for school, books, and even gasoline, but her parenting was a different story.

Isabel Torres said finding affordable child care for her daughter Jupiter was difficult while attending Austin Community College.

“Daycare was… the most challenging,” she said. “The first year I tried to apply for assistance through her Texas Workforce, it was frozen for about a year.”

A single parent, Torres said finding quality, affordable childcare in Austin was difficult. She paid them at least $25 for her day.

“I just looked into day care and most of them were about $100 a day without any help,” she said. “And it was very difficult. I knew I needed to have a career with more opportunities. [my daughter and I] I should have survived. “

Bitar and other researchers found that parents of students often face an affordability gap. We’ve researched how much you’ll have to pay, on average, for college and the net cost of attending a two- or four-year public college or university. We then subtracted the amount the student’s parents would make for her working 10 hours a week at the state minimum wage. Bitar said he chose 10 hours because working more than that could hinder his efforts to complete his degree.

According to The Education Trust, no state allows parents to work 10 hours a week and pay for all costs associated with higher education, including tuition, tuition, books, and childcare.

The Education Trust estimated how many hours a student’s parents would need to work in each state to provide two different types of childcare, in addition to college costs. On average in the United States, a student’s parent has to work her 53 hours a week to cover the costs of home day care and her education. In Texas, where the hourly minimum wage is her $7.25, a student’s parents have to work 64 hours a week to cover the costs. Parents of Texas students who place their children in daycare have to work 54 hours a week to pay for childcare and college tuition.

“Texas also had the biggest difference between the reported net price (what it’s like to pay for college in Texas) and the actual cost of adding childcare,” he said. Bittar said.

A weight was lifted when Torres got the opportunity to apply to the ACC Children’s Lab School for children ages 6 months to 5 years. Her daughter enrolled and she qualified for financial aid.

“I really felt like I won the lottery,” said Torres. “She was really educated, learned more, spoke more and could write her own name.”

She could not have graduated with an associate degree in related health sciences with an emphasis on becoming a pharmacy technician without access to ACC’s affordable and quality day care. said deaf.

“And there would have been no other way for me to have a future, or a career that we could live with,” she said.

The Education Trust has various recommendations on how to increase parental access to higher education for students, including raising the federal minimum wage to $20, increasing funding for early childhood education, and doubling Pell Grants. increase. Brittani Williams, senior policy analyst for higher education, said universities also need to gather better data on student parents and increase access to childcare.

“Creating and expanding more childcare options on or near campus [will] It makes persistence a little easier for the student’s parents,” she said.

Torres, who now works at ACC, advocates for fellow student parents. I agree that it is

“I don’t know any parent who doesn’t put their child’s needs before their own,” she said. “And unfortunately without a safe place to watch them safely, we can’t go back to our own careers to support them.”