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California Student Parents

Affordability is one of the biggest barriers to higher education for all kinds of students, but for students who are also parents, the cost of college can feel like an insurmountable barrier.

In California, there are 380,000 student parents. That means one out of every seven students is balancing the challenges of school with the responsibilities of parenthood. These students have unique needs that make affording college more difficult than it is for other students. In fact, in California only 18% of 4-year institutions are affordable for student parents. Learn more in our factsheet.

Something needs to change. It’s time for California to invest in the higher education ambitions of our students, and the well-being of our state’s youngest residents.

But luckily, we have some ideas. We created a policy roadmap that outlines what California needs to do to create an environment that allows students parents to thrive and succeed. Here are a few highlights:

  • Adopting an affordability guarantee equips policymakers with clear affordability goals and provides students and families with the assurance that they can afford an education.
  • Prioritize student parents in state child care programs, including investing in more on-campus child care centers.
  • Improve access to SNAP for student parents.
  • Adopt evidence-driven completion programs. The many challenges that student parents face results in lower than average graduation rates. State programs can address multiple barriers simultaneously, providing academic and career advising, funding child care and transportation support, and professional development.

Take action to support student parents in California


“As a student parent for most of my college career, I am grateful for programs like CCAMPIS [on-campus childcare] which have supplied invaluable support for young parents like me as I’ve worked toward a college degree. Not only was stellar childcare provided, but young parents were given useful tools and resources through mandatory student-parent workshops. However, beneficial programs like CCAMPIS have challenges like a lack of funds and long waitlists – I’ve experienced both which is why I know more should be done to sustainably expand the program to a wider population of student parents.”

– Jasmine Clark, a Student Parent and Ph.D. Student in California