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Attending Nursing School as a Single Parent or Guardian

Kristen Hamlin
Updated April 3, 2023
    Single parents and guardians don't have to put their nursing education on hold. Learn about programs and nursing scholarships for single parents and guardians.
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    Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

    A mid-adult Black female nurse and her daughter are smiling and facing towards the camera while getting ready to leave their house in the morning. The nurse is wearing teal green scrubs and carrying a black shoulder bag over her left shoulder and a thermos of coffee in her right hand. Her teenaged daughter is wearing a light blue short-sleeved shirt and has long black hair down around her shoulders. She is wearing a black backpack with red accent trim and carrying a textbook in her hands.Credit: JGI/Jamie Grill / Tetra images / Getty Images

    Completing nursing school as a parent or guardian can pose 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.
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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’ kids, 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 University

      ASU 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 universitys Little Eagles Learning Center. Candidates also benefit from assistance accessing state childcare resources.

    • Framingham State University

      Students enjoy a tuition discount at the schools 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 colleges Child Development Center.

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    Pros of Online Schooling for Parents and Guardians

    There are many advantages to pursuing online programs, especially for busy single parents and guardians. Most fully online nursing programs still require in-person clinical experience though the coursework can be completed online.

    • Flexibility: Parents or guardians can attend classes on their own schedules while balancing family and work responsibilities.
    • Affordability: 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 and guardians 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.

    Tips for Single Parents and Guardians Attending Nursing School

    • checkAsk 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 transition into the nursing workforce right away
    • checkFind Scholarships

      Many scholarships exist to support single parents and guardians earning a college degree. View our round up of scholarships for single parents and guardians below, or find more scholarships in our financial aid hub.
    • checkPractice Self-Care

      Going back to school as a parent or guardian is hard work. Avoid nurse burn out by taking time to recharge on a regular basis.
    • checkTake 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.

    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 going to nursing school.

    Financial Aid Options for Single Parents and Guardians

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


    Page last reviewed August 21, 2022