In a recent op-ed for, Nicole Lynn Lewis, founder and CEO of 2020 Partner Grantee Generation Hope, and Sara Goldrick-Rab, founding director of the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice at Temple University, detail the challenges facing student parents.

More than 20% of college students nationwide are parents, and the percentage is higher for women, students of color, and first-generation college students. Many of these families struggle to secure basic needs. A Hope Center study found that even before the pandemic, “53 percent of parenting students had experienced food insecurity, 68 percent had experienced housing insecurity, and 17 percent had experienced homelessness.” What’s more, many student parents cannot afford child care. As a result, more than half leave college without a degree, despite having higher GPAs on average than their non-parenting peers.

Fortunately, Lewis and Goldrick-Rab conclude, there are concrete actions universities can take to better support student parents and “also signal that they are valued by their institutions.” These include collecting data on parenting status, creating family-friendly policies like priority registration for parenting students, and finding better ways to engage parenting students in college life.

To learn more about their recommendations and the research behind them, click here.