Being a parent and working full time leaves you with no free time to dream about the future. Many of us had families first, and our career aspirations second. In addition to work and family responsibilities, juggling full-time at school can make it very difficult to pursue higher education.
Economic barriers and lack of flexibility are a barrier for many adults in California. Providing financial support for flexible online degree programs for parents and seniors will help them achieve a college degree in their time.
The California Adult Learners’ Opportunity Grant Program, proposed by Assembly Bill 2572, will provide higher education for a large number of parents who want to create a better future for themselves and their families.
I am one of the many parents who could not compromise on my family’s steady income while graduating. As a full-time parent, I could not be a full-time student in a traditional school setting.
I needed an affordable and flexible option that would allow me to balance class loads with my responsibilities as a parent of a child with a disability. I wanted to go back to school, but it was not the right time until I was referred to a non – profit online university with convenient class schedules as needed.
Earning my degree online was the best option to support my family, work part time and attend classes at my own pace. But while the cost of tuition is lower than traditional, brick pantries, it can be a significant hurdle for many.
For years, I put off going back to college because getting my family out of debt was not an option or risk I could afford when I graduated, and I knew I was not the only California parent facing similar obstacles.
Currently, California ranks last in the country in adult education, making up 57% of the adults in need of higher education. 63% of unwed mothers and 49% of unmarried fathers have completed some college but have never had the opportunity to graduate.
Parents who do not have easy access to childcare, part-time jobs or full-time jobs do not see many options for themselves in higher education. Currently, California provides financial aid only to young students graduating from brick and mortar campuses.
Fortunately, there is a solution in AB 2572 for California student parents who do not have the financial resources to pursue online degree programs. The bill would provide state financial assistance to California community colleges, public institutions, and students 25 years of age or older. , Non-profit, fully accredited private universities to obtain their college degree. This new grant program will help our state, especially in health care and education, as it faces a large labor shortage.
Research shows that affordability and flexibility are important for student parents and other senior learners to return to higher education and complete their degrees. Providing financial assistance to students pursuing online degree programs – for students like me – will help California student parents find the next opportunity without raising their family responsibilities.
Having a child who participates in therapy and works part time is very important for me to be able to create my own class schedule. Creating my own course schedule helps me to become a better student, parent and individual.
Online higher education has helped me to advance my career, balance work and school life while raising my son. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree and now I am pursuing a master’s degree. This investment in my education improves the future I can provide for my family.
AB 2572 helps fill the gaps in the California workforce while helping many parents like me complete their degrees and reach their career goals. I urge the California Legislature to support this bill and pave the way for busy parents like me to pursue college degrees and career development.
Vinicia Jones is a San Diego resident and senior learner