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A college education financially benefits graduates over their lifetimes. In fact, the Social Security Administration reports that an advanced degree can increase lifelong income by over $1 million. Given that single parents must provide for dependents, they certainly benefit from this increased income, particularly since Legal Momentum stated that median earnings for single-mother homes fell under $30,000 in 2012.
However, according to a 2017 study by the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR), only 31% of single mothers graduated from college in 2015, contrasted with 54% of married mothers. These numbers reveal that while an education opens doors to a higher quality of life, earning a degree may prove too difficult for single parents already struggling with financial and familial responsibilities. The 2017 IWPR study also found that nearly half of female students at two-year institutions expect leaving school may become necessary because of the demands of tending to dependants.
The IWPR study also revealed that over two million U.S. learners are single parents, which represents 11% of undergraduate degree candidates. This information verifies that single parents strive for education despite obstacles, but they may need external help to complete programs. Without this aid, student parents may encounter higher student loan debt than non-parents, or leave school due to an inability to balance finances and scheduling. Fortunately, assistance exists for these learners, such as on-campus daycares, support groups, and financial aid.
FINDING AN ACCOUNTING PROGRAM AS A SINGLE PARENT
Accounting Schools With Daycare Services
Student parents should consider childcare options when pursuing a college degree. Given that Child Care Aware of America reported that the average childcare costs in 2017 surpassed $8,000, paying for this service could hinder educational plans. Many students; however, may benefit from the over 1,500 schools that offer childcare assistance. These childcare options may charge parents less than traditional options while providing a convenient location for the service. Parents only need to drive to campus to tend to coursework and childcare, saving time and lowering expenses.
Schools may offer student parents other services as well, such as support groups, diaper changing stations across campus, and free food for children. Students should research prospective schools to find assistance options. To begin this search, accounting degree seekers may look into the following schools, all of which provide parental services and relevant programs.
Purdue University Northwest: The Lion CubsChild Care Center cares for the children of employees and students during the fall and spring semesters. The center accepts children as young as three and provides after-school programs.
Eastern Washington University: The university's Children's Center cares for children who are at least six weeks old through childcare and after-school options.
Indiana University Southeast: The Children's Center offers care and academic exploration on topics such as counting, holiday explorations, and rhyming. Parents may enroll children between the ages of three and nine.
Getting an Accounting Degree Online
Online education presents students with several advantages. Unlike traditional learners, online degree seekers do not need to travel to campus on a regular basis, which saves time and money in commuting expenses. Online learning also gives candidates more flexibility regarding classwork, particularly if departments deliver courses asynchronously. With asynchronous classes, students log on to the class's website and absorb learning material at their convenience while adhering to general deadlines for assignments. This process allows students more flexibility to tend to coursework and parental responsibilities and may lower the cost of childcare.
Curriculums for online degrees often match traditional program requirements, including practicums or internships. For online degrees, candidates can fulfill these experiences at department-approved organizations near their homes. In some cases, learners can also complete these experiences virtually. Either way, students can tend to the requirements without visiting the school.
Other Tips for Single Parents Going to School for Accounting
Maintain Good Study Habits: Student parents should designate specific times to review course material throughout the semester. This process allows degree seekers to gradually learn class topics instead of rushing through information just before exams or deadlines.
Stay Organized: While working, studying, and raising children, single parents may overlook vital responsibilities. Students should plan itineraries to prevent this issue, perhaps by using a planner, calendar, or cell phone to keep track of important dates and tasks.
Prioritization Matters: With the number of tasks single parents must tend to, degree candidates may not fit all desired events into their schedules. For this reason, students should maintain solid priorities, addressing the most important responsibilities first.
HOW TO PAY FOR AN ACCOUNTING DEGREE AS A SINGLE PARENT
Accounting students can explore financial aid options, including grants, loans, scholarships, and work-study programs, to assist with educational experiences. To begin this process, learners should fill out the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The FAFSA is the most common financial aid application available, and it connects learners with more financial aid possibilities than any other individual document. By filling out this form, students open the door to financial assistance for tuition, books, fees, and other educational costs. Students may fill out the FAFSA as early as October 1 for the upcoming school year. Candidates should have their Social Security numbers and tax information ready when applying. Other information, such as a driver's license number, Alien Registration number, and details on non-taxed earnings, may be needed as well.
All students should fill out the FAFSA since the majority of learners can earn some type of aid. In fact, over 13 million learners each year obtain federal financial assistance due to the broad nature of qualifying standards. Eligible students, for instance, must demonstrate financial need, but considerations such as student status and family assistance influence what constitutes this need. Filling out the FAFSA can take less than one hour. Degree seekers who do not explore this possibility may need to resort to private loans for funding and potentially accrue more debt.
Single parents should note that claiming dependents qualifies applicants as independent, meaning that learners do not have to supply their parents' information when filling out the FAFSA.
Types of Financial Aid Available to Single Parents
Scholarships: Students receive scholarships from organizations such as employers and universities. This funding does not require repayment, though learners may need to fulfill certain criteria to maintain funding. For instance, degree candidates may lose a multiple-year scholarship due to a semester of poor grades. Companies often award scholarships based on merit, such as academic scholarships, or personal traits that include ethnicity, health conditions, and family connections. Scholarship funding varies based on award type. Some scholarships provide full tuition assistance while others supply a portion of educational costs.
Grants: Grants are another form of financial aid that does not need to be repaid, provided the learner fulfills all requirements for earning the grant. For example, candidates awarded a grant for a specific program should complete that program to avoid repayment. This category of funding includes Federal Pell Grants, Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants.
Federal Loans: Students who accept federal loans agree to repay the borrowed amount. Despite the repayment detail, this form of financial aid delivers several benefits. Often, these loans include lower interest rates than private loans, and most federal loans do not require payments while the learner pursues a degree. In fact, candidates experience a grace period following their time in school before repayment should begin. Additionally, options exist for borrowers who struggle with repayment, such as deferments and forbearance possibilities. Students may also enroll in income-based repayment plans.
Private Loans: Like federal loans, private loans come with the expectation of repayment. Since private lenders provide these funds, interest rates can prove much higher than federal options. Lenders may attach additional guidelines for the loan, such as offering no deferment, forbearance, or income-based reprieves for times of economic hardship. Applicants may also need acceptable credit scores to obtain this funding. These loans assist in educational expenses, but students should only consider them after federal options.
MORE WAYS FOR SINGLE PARENTS TO SAVE
Employer Tuition Assistance
In addition to federal aid and private loans, student parents can receive funds through employers that offer tuition assistance. This aid takes several forms, including tuition reimbursement plans where the company pays for at least part of an employee's educational expenses. Details for these programs vary among companies, and students should ask employers about options and regulations. Some companies may only pay for approved courses rather than full course loads, and certain institutions may require learners to pay tuition expenses with the promise of reimbursing the money at a specific time. Companies can designate conditions for the assistance as well, such as insisting learners maintain a certain GPA.
Employers may also offer scholarships to employees. Additionally, colleges and universities may provide tuition waivers to workers, which eliminate tuition debt. Since many workers may not know of these benefits, employees should ask employers about tuition assistance options. Doing so could lower student loan debt and allow students to professionally advance by earning a degree.
Students should note that the Internal Revenue Service considers reimbursement plans that surpass $5,250 to be taxable. This detail means that learners must report and pay taxes for any money over this amount. AT&T, Apple, Southwest Airlines, Best Buy, and Home Depot all offer tuition assistance.
In 2017, Child Care Aware of America reported that childcare can prove more expensive than tuition. Should this expense prevent parents from continuing school, the impact can extend into the overall economy since people without a degree earn less money throughout their lifetimes. Additionally, the 2017 study revealed that national companies miss out on over $4 billion because workers do not have sufficient childcare. Individual families lose nearly $30 billion each year for similar reasons. Combined, these details indicate that childcare expenses can devastate the average home and the economy as a whole.
Fortunately, assistance exists for managing childcare costs. For instance, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF), which helps working or student parents with low incomes who rely on childcare. CCDF help may come in the form of a grant or certificate, and assisted individuals may employ the aid at various types of childcare institutions, including public facilities or at-home organizations. Another assistance option is the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program. This competitive funding helps provide and maintain on-campus childcare. Institutions may apply for this funding every four years, but must provide a yearly report if given the grant.
Single parents can obtain money for education through tax breaks and exemptions. To begin this process, student parents should claim status as the head of household on taxes. Unmarried individuals who endure over half of the household's financial burdens may qualify for this status as long as they have at least one dependant in the home. This status typically lowers the tax rate for filers and leads to a larger required income for the minimum tax return. For instance, single people without dependents who are younger than 65 must file a return with an income of $10,400; heads of households for this age group must file at $13,400. Single parents should additionally claim each qualifying child as a dependent for a tax exemption. Qualifying children must live with the applicant for more than six months of the year, and parents should supply at least half of the children's financial needs. In 2017, these exemptions allowed a $4,050 deduction for each dependent.
Single parents should also use the earned income tax credit. With this tax detail, applicants with no children may earn as much as $510. This number increases with the number of dependents so that one dependent leads to a $3,4000 tax credit, two dependents to $5,616, and at least three dependents to $6,318.
Single parents should also consider the child tax credit and the child and dependent care credit for tax purposes.
SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS GOING TO COLLEGE
Ellen M. Cherry-Delawder Memorial Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Single parents at Howard Community College who major in fields similar to business qualify.
LouEllen Dabbs Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Single parents involved in business or banking programs may qualify provided they take at least nine credits and boast at least a 2.35 GPA.
Amount: No more than $750
The Single Parent Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Single parents in the San Francisco Bay Area who attend a nonprofit school may apply. Applicants should possess strong leadership skills, boast a history of assisting the community, and provide recommendations.
The Kentucky Colonels Better Life Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Ideal applicants include single parents whose children are younger than 12.
Marie Ferraro Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Single-parent students at Buffalo State with full-time status and a minimum 3.25 GPA may qualify. Any awarded student must hold a current major.
Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Low-income single mothers attending a nonprofit school may apply.
Agnes Drexler Kujawa Memorial Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Single parents at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh may apply if taking a specified minimum number of credits for undergraduate and graduate learners.
Mary V. O'Brien O'Connor Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Single parents with a 2.5 GPA may apply for this need-based funding.
Dan Roulier Single Parent Scholarships
Who Can Apply: Students at Springfield Technical Community College can apply with single-parent status, a 2.0 GPA, and a course load of at least 12 credits.
The Law Offices of Curiel & Runion Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Single mothers returning to school with a 3.0 GPA can apply with an essay describing a mother's experience in higher education.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC's Annual Single Mother Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Students with a 3.0 GPA and single-mother status may apply. Applicants must submit an essay regarding motherhood and education.
Barnes Gromatzky Kosarek Architects Endowed Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Austin Community College students qualify with single-parent status, Hispanic heritage, and a 3.0 GPA.
Coplan Donohue Single Parent Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Full-time students at Minnesota State University may qualify provided they are single parents with custody of their children.
Amount: As much as $1,000
Raymond Shoemaker Scholarship
Who Can Apply: New Mexico residents with single-parent status and financial need may qualify for this funding.
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