2018 - 2019

Project Directors: Autumn Green, Ph.D., and Amanda L. Freeman, Ph.D.

Funded by: The Russell Sage Foundation

Project Overview:

With this funding, Green and Freeman drew on prior research to draft a book-length manuscript that explored how policies and other factors support and impede student parents in their pathway to a college degree. 

Project Background:

There were 4.8 million undergraduate student parents enrolled at colleges and universities across the U.S., according to a 2014 report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research. For these students, many of whom are low-income, higher education is presented as a meaningful opportunity for upward mobility, leading to a better life for themselves and their children. However, finding their way to and through higher education is no easy feat for low-income mothers.

Project Findings:

This research project brought together data from three research studies by Green and Freeman on low-income mothers as they pursued higher education enrollment and their experiences as student parents once accepted to college. Their data found that low-income mothers face ongoing barriers and obstacles to accessing and completing college degree programs like lack of financial security and reliable childcare. However, this research also suggested that other, lesser-known factors associated with poverty, parenting, and decision-making also play a role in shaping the educational trajectories of low-income student parents and hinder their progress as they move through higher education and into careers. The data also revealed opportunities to expand support for student parents and the many positive outcomes that college attendance has on low-income mothers and their children. 

The book-length manuscript presents an account of the student parents' journey, obstacles, and experiences of support and success. It also reviews 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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