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Attending Nursing School as a Single Parent

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Completing nursing school as a parent poses unique challenges that students without children may not face. Coordinating daycare arrangements, making time to complete coursework, and financially supporting your children while in school comprise just a few of the challenges student parents may experience.

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

  • 2.1 million American students raise children without a partner.
  • The majority of single parents are women of color — particularly Black and Native American/Alaska Native students.
  • Single mothers are more than six times less likely to graduate with a degree than women in college without children.

Source: Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 2020

Finding a Nursing School as a Single Parent

Finding child care proves challenging for many American parents. Some areas face capacity shortages, and parents must put their children on waiting lists in hopes of being accepted to a program.

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

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

  • Arizona State University

    ASU boasts multiple child care 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 child care 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 child care 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 child care at the college's Child Development Center.

Pros of Online Schooling for Parents

There are many advantages to pursuing online programs, especially for busy single parents and guardians. Though most entry-level nursing programs require in-person clinical experience, there are a few fully online programs available to students interested in advancing their education.

Parents can attend classes on their own schedules while balancing family and work responsibilities.
Taking classes online reduces some of the costs associated with on-campus learning, like parking and service fees.
Work at Your Own Pace
Online programs accommodate parents who can only complete one or two courses at a time.
Active Learning
Online students are active participants in their own learning processes. Candidates may feel more comfortable asking questions or joining discussions online, since they have the time to gather their thoughts before participating.
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.

  • Twenty-eight percent of single mothers have some college education but could not complete their degree.
  • Latina single mothers are the most likely to never enter college.
  • Sixty percent of Latina single mothers hold a high school diploma or less.

Source: Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 2020

Tips for Single Parents Attending Nursing School

Ask for Help
Take advantage of the university’s resources for student parents, and discuss education options with a student advisor. Some degree paths may be better suited for parents looking to transition into the nursing workforce right away.
Find Scholarships
Many scholarships exist to support single parents earning a college degree. View our round up of scholarships for single parents below, or find more scholarships in our financial aid hub.
Practice Self-Care
Going back to school as a parent is hard work. Avoid burning out by taking time to recharge on a regular basis.
Take Advantage of Tax Breaks
The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit allows individuals to deduct up to 35% of their total child care expenses, depending on their income.

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.

Source: Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 2020

Scholarships for Single Parents Attending Nursing School

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

  • Bethel Foundation Grace Scholarship Fund

    Who Can Apply: Low-income single mothers who are the sole custodial parent of a child under 18. Applicants must be earning a career-oriented undergraduate degree and must have received a Pell Grant.

    Amount: Up to $1,500 per semester

    Apply for the Bethel Foundation Grace Scholarship

  • The Foundation of the National Student Nurses' Association General Scholarship Program

    Who Can Apply: Any nursing student currently earning an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, diploma, or direct-entry master’s degree, or who is enrolled in RN-to-BSN/MSN, LPN/LVN-to-RN bridge or accelerated programs.

    Amount: Up to $7,500 per academic year

    Apply for the National Student Nurses’ Association General Scholarship

  • The Mary Blake Single Parent Nursing Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Single parents who are accepted to or enrolled in an accredited nursing program and meet the minimum GPA and test scores. Applicants must also submit an essay detailing why they deserve the award.

    Amount: $500

    Apply for the Mary Blake Single Parent Nursing Scholarship

  • 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

    Apply for the Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation Scholarship

  • Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) Foundation

    Who Can Apply: The ENA Foundation offers multiple scholarship programs for students at all educational levels. Most require a minimum 3.0 GPA, letters of recommendation, and ENA membership.

    Amount: Varies

    Apply for the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) Foundation Scholarship

  • 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

    Apply for the Women’s Independence Scholarship

  • TopProducts Single Mother Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Single mothers with at least one dependent child who are enrolled in or have been accepted into an accredited educational program. Applicants must submit an essay on an assigned topic.

    Amount: $1,000

    Apply for the TopProducts Single Mother Scholarship

  • Capture the Dream Single Parent Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Low-income single parents living in the San Francisco Bay area who are enrolled in an accredited nonprofit institution.

    Amount: $1,000

    Apply for the Capture the Dream Single Parent Scholarship

  • 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 in 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

    Apply for the Soroptimist Live Your Dream Award

  • Jeannette Rankin Women's Scholarship Fund

    Who Can Apply: Low-income women age 35 or older who are pursuing an undergraduate education or a trade skills certification at a nonprofit, regionally accredited institution.

    Amount: Varies; renewable for up to five years

    Apply for the Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship

  • Child Care Grants

    Who Can Apply: Some state and federal organizations offer child care grants to help low-income single parents meet the costs of child care while attending classes.

    Amount: Child care assistance or subsidy programs are different in every state. Families may need to meet certain eligibility requirements and/or pay application fees.

    Explore Child Care Grants in Your Area

Financial Aid Options for Single Parents

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

Find Out More About Different Financial Aid Options

Feature Image: JGI/Jamie Grill / Getty Images

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