Ongoing since: 2018
Project Director: Autumn Green, Ph.D.
Funded by: The Russell Sage Foundation

This project explores the specific policy contexts that support and impede student parents and other factors within their lived experience that shape their success. There are 4.8 million undergraduate student parents who are enrolled at colleges and universities across the U.S., 61 percent of whom are low-income. For these families, higher education is presented as a meaningful opportunity for upward mobility, leading to a better life, not just for themselves, but for their children. However, finding their way to and through higher education is no easy feat for low-income mothers. Green’s research reveals critical concerns of sociological significance in both the areas of the sociology of education, and inequality, poverty, and mobility. She explores how systemic and intersecting processes work to bar access to, and success within, higher education. For low-income student parents, lack of college success is most often attributed to lack of financial security and reliable childcare. However, data suggest that other lesser-known factors associated with poverty, parenting, and decision-making also shape the educational trajectories of low-income student parents and hinder their progress as they move through the system of higher education and into sustainable careers. This project will present an account of the student parent’s journey, its obstacles, as well as experiences of support and success, and how institutions, policymakers, and everyday people can support the success of student parents in completing college degrees and achieving intergenerational mobility from poverty to the middle-class.

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