Year Published: 2021

Authors: Autumn Green, Ph.D., Sahar Haghighat

The Mid-Atlantic is one of the most densely populated regions in the United States, encompassing the states of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, as well as Washington DC. As of 2017 there were 525 regionally accredited postsecondary institutions in the area, as listed in the directory of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 18% of postsecondary students in the Mid-Atlantic attend college while raising and supporting families as student parents. Most Mid-Atlantic student parents are women and disproportionately students of color. Mid-Atlantic student parents are also disproportionately low-income, with 56% qualifying for a $0 expected family contribution based on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

This study reviewed each accredited Mid-Atlantic postsecondary institution to find available information about student parent support services. Specifically, it focused on family housing, child care centers or programs, scholarships specifically targeted to parenting students, women’s centers, and specialized programs targeting student parents or other overlapping groups such as “Women in Transition” or “Non-Traditional Students.”

Overall, the study found that 29% of Mid-Atlantic institutions offered child care but less than 10% offered scholarships, family housing or specialized programs targeting parenting students. Researchers also noted that many women’s center programs did not seem to offer specific services to student parents. Comparing these statistics to data in New England, this study found that Mid-Atlantic postsecondary institutions are less likely to offer family housing, were less likely to offer targeted scholarships for student parents, and were far less likely than New England institutions to offer specialized programs for parenting students.

The Mid-Atlantic Survey of Student Parent Programs is a part of the Find Your Way project of the Higher Education Access for Student Parents Research Initiative at Wellesley Centers for Women, based at Wellesley College. Findings from this study were also compiled into a guide for prospective college students with kids

Suggested Citation for this Report: 
Green, A.R. and Haghighat, S. (2021, January). Supporting Student Parents: Results From Research on Mid-Atlantic Colleges and Universities [Report]. Wellesley, MA: Wellesley Centers for Women. wcwonline.org/findyourway

The Mid-Atlantic Survey of Student Parent Programs was supported through funding from the Center for Best Practices to Support Single Parent Students in Higher Education Grant # P116L140008, a program of the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education. 

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