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Women and Students of Color Disproportionately Raising Children While in College, See Lower Earnings after Graduation

WASHINGTON, April 14, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) report finds that 4.8 million college students in 2012 had their own dependent children, representing more than one in four (26 percent) of all college students, up from 23 percent in 2008. The report was released today in conjunction with "Lumina Ideas Summit: New Models of Student Financial Support."

The report also finds that women—who are 71 percent of all student parents—are disproportionately likely to be balancing college and parenthood, many without the support of a spouse or partner. Women college students of color are more likely than other college students to have dependent children: nearly half (47 percent) of African American women students, 39.4 percent of Native American women students, and 31.6 percent of Latina students are mothers. Being a student parent is associated with higher levels of unmet financial need, low levels of college completion, and higher levels of debt upon graduation.

Women and many communities of color face lower earnings than men, and than white and Asian graduates. Segregation in majors may play a role in differential earnings after graduation.

  • Black workers must have a bachelor's degree for their median earnings to equal those of a white worker with an associate's degree, and a master's degree to equal those of white and Asian bachelor's degree holders.
  • Women with bachelor's degrees earn only 73% of what comparable men earn, and black and Hispanic workers overall with bachelors' degrees earn only 80% of what comparable white workers earn.
  • Women are much less likely to major in STEM fields: Engineering technologies and computer IT sciences are among the five most common associates' degree majors for men but not for women. 

Barbara Gault, IWPR Vice President and Executive Director comments, "To make college more affordable, increase completion rates, and improve the outcomes of college for low-income adults, we must consider new approaches, like expanding child care supports for those raising children, and addressing sex and race segregation in college majors."

The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies.

SOURCE Institute for Women's Policy Research

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