Can My Child Attend Class With Me at a Community College?

Being a parent and going through college is a huge challenge for most Americans. Luckily there are grants and facilities that can help ease your difficulties.
Yes, but it is not a long-term solution. Depending on your child’s age and behavior, your college and/or professor may or may not allow the child to attend classes with you. However, if your primary problem is the care of your child while you study then there are many options available to you at and around a community college. This guide will help you discover all these options.
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More parents are turning to community colleges to study for their flexibility when it comes to dealing with students that are also parents with minors. 

Unlike other four-year public universities or private institutions, community colleges are very welcoming to non-traditional students such as parents, students with part-time or full-time jobs, students who can’t afford education, or any combination of the above.

If you are a parent who wants to study or continue studying after a break, this guide is the right resource for you. We will share all the options you have as a parent to care for your child while you study.

Can my child attend class with me at a community college?

In most cases, yes, but community colleges also offer other and better options to help you care for your child while you study including government support. If you are eligible you can get partial or full support for child care while you are studying at a community college in the U.S.

According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, more than 4.8 million students in the U.S. are also parents. Of these parents, a disproportionate number, 71 percent, are women. Not only that, 2 million parents who are also studying are single mothers raising children.

One can only imagine how difficult it must be for a single mother to raise children, manage household duties and study at the same time. 


Working Parents: Take advantage of flexible schedules!

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Taking kids to a college class - is it a good idea?

As mentioned earlier, community colleges were designed to make education accessible to students who were deprived of it for one reason or another. For this reason, specifically, these colleges make a great deal of effort to offer solutions for childcare.

Some professors even allow you to bring children to class provided they behave and do not disturb other students. 

However, this should not be a permanent solution because, at the end of the day, children are unpredictable, and sooner or later they will do something that will disrupt the concentration of other students. This of course is not fair to other students.

Taking your kid(s) to class is ok once in a while if you are out of options but eventually, you have to find a long-term solution such as childcare. But if you are worried you can’t afford childcare, don’t panic just yet as there are many programs, funds, and grants for parents who are studying at college that aim to help you with childcare.

Students with their kids


Childcare subsidies

Post the Covid pandemic demand for childcare at community colleges has gone up. Because of this many community colleges now have some form of daycare on-campus. These daycares are either free or subsidized making them a viable option for parent-students.

In case there is no childcare on-campus, your community college can help you apply to local, state, or federal financial aid. This aid is specifically designed to help with childcare for studying parents.

The Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program

This U.S. Education Department program is directly funded by the federal government and is responsible for administering childcare support at community colleges.

CCAMPIS’ goal is to give educational opportunities specifically to low-income parents that want to pursue higher education. If you are a parent that qualifies as a low-income earner with children under 13 years of age, you may qualify for this financial aid.

The exact eligibility criteria of how each state defines low-income and the amount of funding you can get vary from state to state, depending on the policy. Community colleges that are on the list of awardees have the additional option of granting reduced tuition or scholarship to such parents.

However, one important thing to note is that the tax credit is only valid for child care that is provided during working hours or hours spent looking for a job.

Continuous efforts by the government

In 2018, a U.S. Education Department spokesperson mentioned in U.S. News that a fund increase of $35 million would be used to create 200 additional awards to higher education institutions that will support campus-based child-care programs serving low-income parents in postsecondary education.

In 2020, the Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program provided an additional $45,648,300 to fund 287 child care service awards, with an average of $159,053 per award.

Building on this momentum, in 2021, the Biden administration put forward plans to make community college free in order to make higher education more accessible. The proposal includes $1 trillion in new spending and $800 billion in tax credits. 

Moreover, Biden’s American Families Plan aims to expand access to education and child care by reducing overall costs. This plan directly increases the educational opportunities that non-traditional students such as student parents receive.

All of this put together demonstrates the enormous effort the government is making to have education accessible to marginalized groups such as parents.

Read More: Free Community Colleges

Institutional eligibility criteria for CCAMPIS 

Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) are eligible to apply and receive a grant under the CCAMPIS program. 

These institutions may apply if the total amount of all Federal Pell Grant (a subsidy the U.S. federal government provides for students who need to pay for college)  funds awarded to students at the institution for the preceding fiscal year equals or exceeds $350,000.

Individual eligibility criteria for child care grants

The almost 5 million college students who are also parents struggle both in terms of getting access to education and in finding the time to study properly to graduate. 

With an increase in student loans, one can only imagine how challenging it is for student parents to afford higher education for themselves.

These parents desperately need programs that could give them relief on both fronts and giving access to free or subsidized child care solves both problems.

Luckily, there are a few financial aid options for student parents that can help fund their education. While the specific eligibility criteria for students applying for childcare grants vary from state to state, most of them have the following common features:

Parent status

Since childcare grants are need-based, single-parent households are generally given first priority. After which, students who are married with children and are returning to school are considered.

It is best to talk to your financial aid advisor at the community college and check your priority criteria for the relevant grant. 

Income

The exact amount may vary, however, childcare grants are typically given based on the priority of each student’s needs. Hence, not only are lower-income students eligible while higher-income students may be ineligible, the earlier may even have access to more assistance.

Students’ financial need is determined based on their FAFSA/WASFA or their International Student Financial Statement.

For example, at Wake Technical Community College, the maximum annual income allowed to be eligible for a childcare grant is as follows: 

  • Single household: $24,984
  • Two-person household: $33,816
  • Three-person household: $42,660
  • Four-person household: $51,504
  • Five-person household: $60,336
  • Six-person household: $69,180

Child(ren)’s Age

Typically, to be eligible for licensed care, student parents must have a dependent child(ren) who is 12 years old or younger (must be under the age of 19 in the case of special needs children).

To know the exact age requirements of your specific community college, make sure to contact the financial aid office or a counselor

working learner with kids
Photo by William Fortunato from Pexels


How to apply for your child care grant 

Applying for grants may seem like a daunting task because of all the application forms involved, however, student financial aid advisors at community colleges are meant to help you with each step of the process. 

Here are the steps you should take:

  1. Before submitting your application for a child care grant, it is highly recommended that you visit your community college’s student advisor or counselor. These people have a good idea of eligibility and the process itself.
  1. Next, you should fill out the FAFSA/WASFA or the International Student Financial Statement to determine your financial needs. 

Once you’ve filled in the required documents, you will have a better idea of what kind of aid you are eligible for (federal, state, and/or local grants).

  1. Once you have done this, your advisor will be able to help determine what childcare grants you can apply to and help you fill out the forms needed for the relevant grants.

These grants may be federal, state, or local depending on the college and the area you apply from.

  1. The community college will then use your financial aid forms (FAFSA/WASFA, etc.) to see if you are eligible for their childcare grants and help you process them.

Existing childcare at your community college

Over the years, there has been a drastic increase in demand for childcare grants. Because of this, getting financial aid has become extremely competitive and difficult. 

Nevertheless, because of these very reasons most community colleges already offer a few budget-friendly, on-campus resources that student parents can make use of.

In fact, most community colleges offer so many benefits that more and more students are opting for them in place of universities. 

Many community colleges such as Clark College in Washington and Alamance Community College in North Carolina offer campus childcare facilities at extremely affordable rates. 

These facilities are not only convenient for the parent, but they also provide children with the same resources as a private childcare facility would. 

Additionally, the staff at these on-campus facilities are licensed professionals that have at least an associate’s level degree.

So be sure to check out what your local community college offers – it might be better than you think.

Final word

It is not easy being a parent going through college but the good news is that there are systems in place that you can use to ease your challenges. The federal and state governments both offer varying degrees of support as well as local communities that want to help parents trying to get an education.

These grants can be a lifeline to struggling parents and using this guide you can navigate through the complex process of applying to them successfully.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do community colleges have daycare?

Is childcare free in community college?

Can I get aid for childcare?

Are you on the fence about changing jobs or a complete career change?

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