The university has received a $1 million federal Department of Education (DOE) grant to subsidize child care costs for low-income college students who have dependent children.
The four-year funding is provided through DOE’s Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program, which supports the participation of low-income parents in post-secondary education.
In 2017, 86 colleges were awarded grants, ranging from $14,000 to $427,000, with an average award of $174,000. The program serves about 5,000 students nationwide.
The UMass Amherst CCAMPIS program will significantly increase the amount of financial aid, coaching and parenting resources offered by the office of Student Parent Programs to qualified low-income undergraduate and graduate students.
Sally Linowski, associate dean for off-campus student life, said CCAMPIS funds will go directly into the hands of qualified students to subsidize their child care expenses and to hire a full-time program coordinator to provide student success coaching, parent-child learning events, parent support groups and resources.
“We are excited to launch this new program in spring 2019 and to remove some of the financial and personal barriers to degree attainment for a growing population of non-traditional, first generation and low-income students who come to college with kids,” she said.
A 2014 report by the federal Department of Health and Human Services found that in Massachusetts a single mother needed to use 60 percent of her income to cover child care, and the burden was heavier in the Amherst area, where the cost of full-time basic child care was the second highest in the country.
Student parents, and especially single parents seeking to further their college education, face a daunting financial burden. Without child care support from family, friends or through child care tuition assistance, it is nearly impossible for a low-income parent to attend college and attain a degree.
Of the 832 financial aid recipients at UMass Amherst in fiscal 2016 who had dependent children, 78 undergraduate and graduate students received child care tuition assistance from existing on-campus subsidy programs. The additional funding provided by CCAMPIS will help meet the gap between current funds and actual need for this type of financial support.
The grant also supports outreach efforts to make sure the students know about the opportunity, as well as partnerships with community colleges and local agencies that support families.
The overall goal of the effort is to make it possible for low-income student parents to persist in their post-secondary education and attain a degree.