Guide for Student Parents
According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, 11% of all undergraduate college students were raising children without a partner during the 2011-2012 school year. This was almost a 3.5% increase since the 1999-2000 academic year. Their 2017 study also found that women of color were more likely to be single parents, and four out of 10 single mothers attending two-year institutions indicated they were likely or very likely to drop out of school due to their parental obligations. In 2015, single mothers were less likely to hold a college degree compared to their married counterparts and women in general. Single mothers who did graduate with a college degree did so with more debt than other women.
In addition to the time spent parenting, a majority of single parents work full time while they pursue a postsecondary degree to care for their children. This can negatively impact academic performance and the time it takes to graduate. Fortunately, there are financial aid options available for single parents, whether they are men or women. Scholarships, grants, and tax breaks for single-parent students ease economic strain by providing resources and support. Degrees in medical billing and coding for single parents are also found at schools with daycare services that can assist students with any economic and personal pressures.
Research suggests that single parents who complete a college degree are more likely to have better individual health and economic outcomes and contribute to overall community well-being. The children of single-parent students are also more likely to continue on to postsecondary study if their parent holds a college or university degree.
Finding a Medical Billing and Coding Program as a Single Parent
Medical Billing and Coding Schools With Daycare Services
Colleges and universities around the country offer childcare for students with children. In addition to this convenient and supportive on-campus resource, schools may also offer family housing, parenting-skills classes, faculty mentoring, and counseling services for single parents. Lactation rooms, child-friendly study areas, and family-oriented activities may also be available.
Public and private two-year and four-year institutions have designed features to meet the needs of students and their children with the intent of making education more accessible to degree-seeking parents. With daycare and child services, students with children can attend classes or on-campus activities without the worry of finding accessible childcare.
Some programs are free while others are offered at a reduced cost. Support for parents also provides a supportive environment for students struggling to find balance between their work, education, and personal responsibilities. Parents not only have help but may find a community of other students with children who understand the challenges they face.
Renton Technical College: Renton Technical College in Renton, Washington, provides low-cost dental care through its dental clinic as well as emergency childcare for students who qualify for the Opportunity Grant.
Southeast Technical Institute: Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, houses a childcare facility that can accommodate up to 60 infants and young children at an affordable price.
Central Texas College: Located in Killeen, Texas, Central Texas College offers childcare assistance for students enrolled in an associate degree or certificate program who are taking the majority of their courses on campus.
Northland Community and Technical College: Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, has a postsecondary childcare grant available to eligible students.
Guilford Technical Community College: Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown, North Carolina, provides a support group for single parents that meets weekly and holds confidential sessions monthly.
Metropolitan Community College: In Omaha, Nebraska, Metropolitan Community College provides carpooling and single-parent homemaker support including book loans, tutoring, and parent counseling.
Getting a Medical Billing and Coding Degree Online
An online medical billing and coding degree offers significant advantages to single-parent students. Single-parent students can complete online programs part time by taking one or two classes at a time. Online classes offer greater flexibility and at a pace that better fits the time pressures of parenting.
Some online programs are more expensive than on-campus degrees, but the higher cost is often mitigated by the elimination of other expenses. By giving single-parent students the opportunity to complete coursework from home, online programs also alleviate the pressures of finding and paying for childcare. Without having to worry about commuting, parking, and other transportation expenses, the overall economic strain that single parents face are lessened as well. Medical billing and coding student parents may still need to attend some on-campus activities and program requirements, but they can take advantage of programs on campus to assist with childcare.
Other Tips for Single Parents Going to School for Medical Billing and Coding
- Manage Your Time: By establishing a routine and setting up a schedule, single parents can meet course and degree requirements with parenting, job or career obligations, and other life pressures with greater ease.
- Explain Your Degree to Your Children: Single-parent students can include their children in the degree-seeking process by talking to them about their program, the time commitments and other obligations involved, and their ultimate goals.
- Take Time for Yourself: Single parents should also take time to relax and enjoy themselves as they juggle school, parenting, career, and any other obligations in their lives. This helps prevent burnout and keeps students refreshed and revitalized as they complete their degree.
How to Pay for a Medical Billing and Coding Degree as a Single Parent
Single parents pursuing a degree in medical billing and coding have numerous financial aid options available to them, including federal loans, scholarships, and grants and private support. Students with children should explore financial aid resources as early as possible to take advantage of all possible support.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an essential resource for students attending college, career school, and graduate programs in the United States. Citizens and eligible non-citizens can apply annually for aid by submitting personal and financial information. All students should fill out and submit a FAFSA for consideration for federal financial aid, including subsidized and unsubsidized loans, scholarships and grants, and work study. Many states and schools use the FAFSA to evaluate economic need.
Students can submit a FAFSA between October and the end of June for the upcoming academic year, but there are individual deadlines for funding opportunities within that period. For consideration for all possible federal, state, college, and local opportunities, students should submit their FAFSA as early as possible. The FAFSA is sent directly to schools that students choose. The online application allows students to choose up to ten schools while the paper application allows for four.
The FAFSA assesses financial need by taking all information into consideration. To apply, students must provide their driver's license and Social Security numbers and, if they are dependents, their parents' numbers as well. Additional information on tax history, bank accounts, investments, untaxed income, and business holdings is also required. Single parents should pay special attention to certain details about custodial status, estimated income contributions, child-support payments, and any welfare or aid assistance they receive. Financial aid officers at colleges and universities can provide assistance when filling out an application and answer questions that may arise.
Types of Financial Aid Available to Single Parents
Scholarships: Financial aid scholarships are awarded based on a specific set of criteria to help students further their educations. Scholarships are often set up by alumni to a specific school or in honor of an individual that has contributed to a field, subject, or cause. Scholarships are merit-based, need-based, career- or college-based, or based on athletic or creative performance. Students do not need to repay scholarship awards and can often renew them, depending on the program requirements.
Grants: Grants are awarded based exclusively on financial need. Grants are offered through the federal, state, or local government; through a specific school; or by private and nonprofit organizations. Federal grants, such as Pell Grants, are awarded based on the information submitted in a FAFSA. Pell Grants are awarded to students that have not earned a bachelor's or professional degree that demonstrate significant financial need. Students do not need to repay grants unless they fail to meet one of the expectations or eligibility requirements.
Federal Loans: The Direct Federal Loan program offered by the U.S. Department of Education offers students subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Undergraduate students can accept need-based subsidized loans. The government pays interest while learners are enrolled in an academic program. Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible for unsubsidized loans. Unsubsidized loans are not need-based and begin to accrue interest as soon as funds are distributed. Graduate and professional students can also apply for PLUS loans to cover additional expenses not covered by their other financial aid. All recipients of federal loans are eligible for loan consolidation.
Private Loans: Private loans are offered by individual banks and lending institutions. Interest rates for private loans are usually higher than those attached to federal loans. Private loans are not subsidized, begin to accrue interest immediately, and may be subject to repayment while a student is still in school. Many lenders defer payment until after graduation, however. Students often need a cosigner or an established credit history to take out a private loan.
More Ways for Single Parents to Save
Employer Tuition Assistance
Single parent students are able to take advantage of employer-sponsored tuition assistance. Many employers offer tuition assistance programs to support their employees that go back to school. Employer contributions to a tuition assistance program benefit employees and employers alike. Contributions are tax deductible, and tuition assistance programs lead to better informed, incentivised employees. Employers may cover a percentage of tuition or full tuition and fees and other education expenses for employees that pursue a degree or coursework related to their current position. Colleges and universities may offer tuition waivers or tuition reduction to their employees. The family members of employees can take advantage of many tuition reduction programs as well.
Employees often have to pay for their tuition and expenses at the time and are eligible for reimbursement by their employer. Employers can contribute up to $5,250 above the annual income for a single employee. This amount is tax-free for the employee. Students must use tuition assistance funds for tuition, fees, textbooks, equipment, and other supplies, but not for travel, commuting, or lodging expenses. Sports or activities classes do not qualify for contributions unless they directly relate to the employee's occupation.
Tuition assistance does not apply to an employee's spouse or dependents. Some employers offer scholarships to dependents of their employees, which are ideal for single parents. The dependent must enroll in a program, and employer-sponsored scholarships are only applicable to tuition and fees. The employer must not attach any conditions requiring any service or obligation by the student in exchange for these scholarships.
According to a 2017 study, childcare expenses were higher than college tuition in several U.S. states. On average, single parents spend 27% of their median income on childcare each year. With such financial pressures on single parents, their work and studies can suffer as they struggle to find resources and outlets for assistance. Federal and state grants can help students with children with both childcare and the economic strain associated with making sure their children have support.
Single-parent students are often eligible for federal Pell Grants and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOC) program. Grants found through the Health Resources and Services Administration are applicable for students studying in many areas related to healthcare, and potentially for students earning a degree in medical billing and coding.
State agencies also offer financial support on a temporary or sustained basis for single parents. There are state grants to assist with tuition and other education related costs like the New York tuition assistance program. This program provides assistance to students studying at recognized universities in New York state.
An additional option for students with children is the U.S. Department of Education's Child Care Access Means Parents In School (CCAMPIS) program. The CCAMPIS establishes and supports on-campus childcare options for low-income students pursuing postsecondary degrees.
Students with children are eligible for several types of tax credits. All parents whose children meet IRS guidelines can take up to $1,000 each year for dependent children under the age of 17 as part of the Child Tax Credit. Taxpayers can also receive credit for children through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
The Child and Dependent Care Credit offers up to $3,000 for one individual and up to $6,000 for two or more in tax credits each year. Taxpayers can claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit if they use work income to pay for care of children under the age of 13. Single parent students can also take up to $2,500 in credit for tuition and education expenses through the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC). The AOTC is applicable for up to four years. To receive the AOTC, students must enroll in a program.
The Lifelong Learning Credit (LLC) is another option for single parents and applies for an unlimited number of years. The LLC offers a $2,000 credit for all education-related expenses if a student is enrolled at an eligible institution. To receive the LLC, students do not need full matriculation status and can take coursework for career advancement or for continuing education requirements. Students need to make sure they investigate IRS rules and regulations or consult with a tax professional before using multiple tax credits. Students may apply some credits and not others to their specific situation.
Scholarships for Single Parents Going to College
Ford Opportunity Grant
Who Can Apply: The Ford Foundation offers up to 50 recipients support for education-related expenses each year if they are single parents with custody of their children; reside in Oregon or Siskiyou County, California; and intend to complete a full-time undergraduate degree. Scholarships can cover up to 90% of expenses and are renewable for up to four years.
Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund
Who Can Apply: Residents of Arkansas and Bowie County, Texas, can apply for a scholarship through the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund. Applicants must hold a high school diploma or GED, meet financial and single-parent criteria, and attend or plan to attend an approved school.
Peggy A. Stock Presidential Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Students in good academic standing that demonstrate financial need at Westminster college can apply for the Peggy A. Stock Presidential Scholarship. Recipients must enroll at least part time and need to maintain a GPA of 3.5 or above.
Amount: Two awards, $5,000 each
Capture The Dream Single Parent Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Single-parent students in the San Francisco Bay Area can apply for a scholarship through the Capture the Dream foundation if they are low-income and are enrolled in a two or four-year program. The scholarship is only applicable to undergraduate education.
The ANSWER Scholarship Endowment Program
Who Can Apply: Nontraditional, female students in participating counties in the Carolinas can apply for the ANSWER Scholarship through the Foundation for the Carolinas if they are 25 years or older and are the primary caregivers to at least one school-aged child. Applicants must seek a four-year undergraduate degree or a two-year, health-related degree and not apply funds to for-profit institutions.
The Michael S. and Jeffrey C. Hagler Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Nontraditional, single mothers enrolled in degree or certificate programs at Boise State University or the College of Western Idaho can apply for the Michael S. and Jeffrey C. Hagler Scholarship. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and enroll in at least nine undergraduate or six graduate credit hours.
The Kentucky Colonels Better Life Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Single-parent students with children under the age of 12 can apply for the Kentucky Colonels Better Life Scholarship if they are enrolled in a program at one of the schools within the Kentucky Community and Technical College system. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and are eligible for renewal for a second year if they continue to study full time and maintain academic success.
The Downer-Bennett Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The Downer-Bennet Scholarship offers financial assistance to nontraditional, single-parent students enrolled at the University of New Mexico. Students with competitive GPAs and at least 12 hours of completed coursework are automatically considered when they submit a FAFSA.
Woman's Independence Scholarship Program (WISP)
Who Can Apply: WISP offers financial assistance to female survivors of domestic abuse that have been apart from their abusers for more than one year, but not more than seven. Recipients are full- or part-time students enrolled in any accredited institution.
Mary Jane Young Scholarship For Women Re-Entry
Who Can Apply: Single parents who are returning to school at the University of Minnesota-Mankato can apply for the Mary Jane Young Scholarship for Women Re-Entry. Applicants must have custody of at least one child and enroll in an undergraduate or graduate program at the university full time.
Coplan Donohue Single Parent Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Nontraditional, single-parent students enrolled in an undergraduate graduate program at the University of Minnesota-Mankato can apply for the Coplan Donohue Single Parent Scholarship. Applicants must have primary custody and hold good academic standing.
Association for Non-Traditional Students In Higher Education (ANTSHE) Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Nontraditional students who are parents, single parents, minorities, low income, or veterans can apply for the ANTSHE scholarship. Applicants can enroll in any four-year undergraduate program at an accredited institution.
College of Dupage Foundation's Single Parent Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Single-parent students enrolled in a certificate, degree, or transfer program at the College of Dupage are eligible for the school's Foundation's Single Parent Scholarship. Applicants must reside in the college's district, take six academic credit hours per semester, and maintain a GPA of 2.0 or above.
Patsy Mink Education Support Award Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The Patsy Mink Education Support Award Scholarship provides financial assistance to women who are at least 17 years old with minor children enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree. Students must attend a nonprofit institution and demonstrate low-income status.
Amount: Up to $5,000
Altrusa's Olive Gillespie Scholarship Fund
Who Can Apply: Women over the age of 30 who are widowed or divorced with dependent children can apply for the Altrusa's Olive Gillespie Scholarship at Western Kentucky University. Students must hold sophomore, junior, or senior status with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.