Attending Nursing School as a Single Parent or Guardian

Ayana Dunn, RN
Updated June 5, 2024
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    Single parents in nursing school face unique challenges. Learn about useful tips, supportive schools, and financial aid options.
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    Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

    Single parents and guardians in college must juggle many responsibilities on top of meeting academic expectations. The situation gets more complicated in nursing school.

    Thankfully, many programs and schools offer resources and services designed with you in mind. It’s just a matter of knowing what’s available. Keep reading to learn about program options, scholarships, financial aid, and more to support your nursing journey.

    For single parents, earning a college degree can increase in difficulty compared to two-parent households.

    • Nearly 10% of all U.S. undergraduate students are single parents.
    • The majority of single parents are women of color — particularly Black and Native American/Alaska Native students.
    • Single parents with a high school diploma are three times more likely to live in poverty than when they have a bachelor’s degree.

    Popular Online RN-to-BSN Programs

    Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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    Finding a Nursing School as a Single Parent or Guardian

    Finding childcare can prove challenging for many American parents and guardians. Some areas face capacity shortages, and parents and guardians must put children on waiting lists in hopes of being accepted to a program.

    Fortunately, more than 1,500 universities and colleges offer on-campus childcare for students with children. Universities may also offer free or discounted meals for enrolled students’ children, along with mentoring and counseling services and support groups for parents and guardians.

    Below are just some of the schools offering nursing programs that include childcare opportunities for nurses and activities for students with children.

    Arizona State UniversityASU boasts multiple childcare centers and two assistance programs. The Sun Devil Subsidy offers a lump sum payment each semester, while the CCAMPIS Child Care Subsidy covers up to 95% of costs at designated on-campus centers.

    • Florida Gulf University: The children of FGCU students receive priority enrollment at the university’s Little Eagles Learning Center. Candidates also benefit from assistance accessing state childcare resources.
    • Framingham State University: Students enjoy a tuition discount at the school’s Early Childhood Center, which serves children up to age 6.
    • University of Oregon: The Associated Students of the University of Oregon offers reimbursement subsidies for childcare expenses at approved on- and off-campus facilities.
    • Fort Hays State University: Candidates can enroll their young children at the low-cost Tiger Tots Preschool Center located near the campus.
    • Essex County College: Students enjoy access to free, low-cost, or subsidized childcare at the college’s Child Development Center.

    Pros of Online School for Single Parents and Guardians

    Enrolling in an online program has many advantages, especially for busy single parents and guardians. However, most fully online nursing programs still require in-person clinical experiences, though students can complete the coursework online.

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      Parents and guardians can attend classes and complete coursework on their schedules, making it easier to balance school, work, and family.

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      Taking classes online reduces some costs associated with on-campus learning, like parking and service fees.

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      Active Learning

      Online students are active participants in their learning processes. Candidates may feel more comfortable asking questions or joining discussions online since they have the time to gather their thoughts before participating.

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      Expanded Choices

      Distance learners can enroll in the ideal online program without uprooting their families to relocate for school.

    Parenting without a partner tends to be financially challenging and can make graduating from college particularly difficult.

    • 89% of single parents in college have low incomes.
    • Single mothers are less likely to complete college than married mothers and women without children.
    • Most single parents spend at least 30 hours per week caring for their children.

    Tips for Single Parents and Guardians Attending Nursing School

    • Ask for Help: Take advantage of the university’s resources for student parents and guardians and discuss education options with a student advisor. Some nursing degree paths may be better suited for parents and guardians looking to quickly transition into the nursing workforce.
    • Find Scholarships: Many scholarships support single parents and guardians earning a college degree. View our list of scholarships for single parents and guardians below, or find more scholarships in NurseJournal’s financial aid hub.
    • Practice Self-Care: Going back to school as a parent or guardian is hard work. Avoid nursing school burnout by taking time to recharge on a regular basis. Prioritize enjoyable activities, physical health, and mental well-being.
    • Take Advantage of Tax Breaks:The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit allows individuals to deduct up to 35% of their total childcare expenses, depending on their income. Eligible applicants must have paid someone to care for dependents under the age of 13 or must have adult dependents who are unable to care for themselves.

    The benefit of higher education is undeniable.

    • Single mothers with a bachelor’s degree earn over $625,000 more in a lifetime than single mothers with only a high school diploma.
    • Single mothers with an associate degree earn roughly $256,000 more in a lifetime than single mothers with only a high school diploma.

    Scholarships for Single Parents and Guardians Attending Nursing School

    While single parents and guardians in nursing school face many obstacles, including financial instability, there are a variety of nursing financial aid options to help ease student debt. Below is a list of scholarships for single parents and guardians attending nursing school.

    Colwell Law Group 2024 Single Parent Scholarship

    • Who Can Apply: Single parents, individuals going through a divorce, or a child of a single parent pursuing a college education.
    • Amount: $1,000

    Answer Scholarship

    • Who Can Apply: Nontraditional female students aged 25 or older who are the primary caregivers for at least one school-aged child.
    • Amount: Varies

    Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation

    • Who Can Apply: Low-income single mothers who are seeking their first degree (vocational or technical certification, associate, bachelor’s, or master’s) from a nonprofit, accredited institution.
    • Amount: Up to $5,000

    Women’s Independence Scholarship Program

    • Who Can Apply: Low-income women who have survived intimate partner abuse within the previous seven years and who have sought support services from a nonprofit agency. Applicants must be enrolled in or accepted into an accredited educational program.
    • Amount: $500-$2,000 per semester or quarter

    Capture the Dream Single Parent Scholarship

    • Who Can Apply: Low-income single parents living in the San Francisco Bay Area and enrolled in an accredited nonprofit institution.
    • Amount: $1,000

    Soroptimist Live Your Dream Award

    • Who Can Apply: Low-income women who provide the primary financial support for themselves and their dependents. Applicants must be enrolled or accepted into an accredited undergraduate or vocational training program. They must also live in a Soroptimist member country or territory.
    • Amount: $1,000-$16,000

    Childcare Grants

    • Who Can Apply: Some state and federal organizations offer childcare grants for low-income single parents and guardians attending classes.
    • Amount: Childcare assistance or subsidy programs vary by state. Families may need to meet certain eligibility requirements and/or pay application fees.

    Financial Aid Options for Single Parents and Guardians

    Common financial aid options include scholarships, grants, federal and private loans, and employer tuition assistance.

    With a little know-how, single parents and guardians can find effective ways to complete — and pay for — their nursing education. Many nursing schools, not to mention your fellow nursing students, will support you in this effort. Remember to be self-compassionate and move at your own pace. It is possible to earn your nursing degree.