If you’re a parent doubling as a college undergrad or graduate student — or you’re about to become one — you’re probably not surprised to hear that the cost of child care rivals your cost of attendance.
The average cost of child care nationwide is $9,649 a year, according to Child Care Aware of America, depending on your child’s age and other factors. By comparison, The College Board says the average in-state, four-year undergrad can expect to pay $9,410 in tuition.
With your costs set to double, consider these four ways to find help paying for child care while in college. Hopefully, one or more of these methods will allow you to devote more energy toward earning your degree.
1. Seek colleges, universities with child care resources
There’s been a steep decline in the number of schools offering on-campus child care in recent years, but that trend isn’t expected to continue. In April 2018, Congress tripled the spending for the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program.
CCAMPIS sends federal dollars to schools to help low-income students afford child care. If you’re applying to college, you might focus on schools with low-cost child care options or with grants and scholarships to help cover them.
There are select schools with extremely generous offerings. Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa., has the Single Parent Scholar Program, for example, which offers on-campus housing as well as day care to moms or dads who are going it alone.
If you’re already in school, seek your financial aid office or family resources center to learn about any options there. If it’s light on aid, skip to the next step.
Note that affordable on-campus child care isn’t specific to four-year schools, as many community colleges also offer these services. Mesa Community College in Arizona, for example, charges its students just $4 an hour to supervise their young ones. It’s also not unheard of for child care to be free at some institutions.
If your school has an on-campus care facility for students and faculty, inquire about availability as soon as possible. Some students complain that spots fill up fast with limited availability.
Services extend to graduate schools, too. Cornell University grad students, for instance, can apply for a taxable grant to cover their child care costs. Keep in mind that many schools’ offerings are tied to financial need or academic merit. You might have to provide a tax return or keep your report card on track to keep receiving aid.
2. Apply for your state’s day care grants for parents
While CCAMPIS helps to fund schools’ affordable child care programs, the federal government’s Child Care and Development Fund subsidizes your state’s grant offerings. Contact your state’s child services agency to learn about your eligibility for help in covering child care costs.
Requirements typically revolve around your household income. Massachusetts’ Department of Early Education and Care, for example, mandates that you must earn at or below 50% of the state’s median income. As a student, though, that could be an easy threshold for you to clear.
While you’re at it, consult your state’s department of higher education. You can find your local contacts via the federal Department of Education. The state of Minnesota’s Postsecondary Child Care Grant Program is one example, offering up to $5,200 per academic year for each child who needs child care.
3. Seek private scholarships
As you exhaust your school and government-funded aid options for child care, consider a strategy you might have also used to cover tuition — applying for private scholarships.
The Soroptomist’s Live Your Dream Award, for example, offers women students up to $16,000 to pay for college, repay student loans and cover child care.
Aside from using scholarship search engines such as Fastweb to find opportunities, seek scholarships from child care resource and referral agencies, plus your nearby child care centers. Infant Toddler Family Day Care in Fairfax, Va., is one such option, offering scholarships to financially needy families.
Remember that many private scholarships are awarded without strings attached. You could win $5,000 to cover educational expenses, for example, and divert some of your winnings toward child care. With that in mind, apply for scholarships even if they aren’t specifically geared toward student-parents, single or otherwise.
4. Use student loan money for child care — as a last resort
In the unfortunate event that you’re unable to gather enough financial aid to pay for child care for your little ones, you might be tempted to borrow (more) student loans.
Yes, it’s possible to use student loan money for child care. You’re legally obligated to apply federal loans toward education expenses such as tuition, fees and books, as well as room and board, but your school could decide that child care should be factored into your cost of attendance.
There are fewer restrictions on private student loans, as your lender or your school will send you the balance of your loan after covering essential costs such as tuition and fees.
Of course, just because you could use loans to pay for child care doesn’t mean that you should. Unlike gift aid, which you don’t have to repay, a loan is more expensive than it might seem.
Say you use $5,000 from your loans to have your son or daughter cared for while you’re on campus. Repaying that amount tagged with, let’s say, a 7.00% interest rate over 10 years would set you back $6,967, according to our monthly payment calculator — and that’s if you repay the debt on schedule.
Loans for child care are an option, but it’s wise to treat them as a last resort — it’s the most expensive way to watch your kids. Be sure to seek gift aid from your school, state and private organizations before borrowing.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2018!
|1 Important Disclosures for CollegeAve.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or Nationwide Bank, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Information advertised valid as of 11/1/2018. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
2 Important Disclosures for Discover.
3 Important Disclosures for Ascent.
Before taking out private student loans, you should explore and compare all financial aid alternatives, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans and consider your future monthly payments and income. Applying with a cosigner may improve your chance of getting approved and could help you qualify for a lower interest rate. Ascent Student Loans may be funded by Richland State Bank (RSB). Ascent Student Loan products are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information and certification of loan amount by a participating school. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions, and certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of Turnstile Capital Management (TCM) and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.
* Application times vary depending on the applicants ability to supply the necessary information for submission.
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
4 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
5 Important Disclosures for PNC.
PNC Bank is one of the nation’s largest education loan providers. For over 40 years, PNC has been committed to helping students and their families make possible the adventure of college.
6 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. ©2018 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
7 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Additional terms and conditions apply. For more details see LendKey
8 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
9 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|3.94% – 12.78%1||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.06% – 13.06%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.34% – 12.99%2||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.37% – 11.23%*,4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|5.03% – 11.23%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.12% – 13.13%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|5.62% – 10.01%7||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.93% – 9.81%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.26% – 12.13%9||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|