More than one-fifth of all college students are student parents. That’s nearly 4 million college students with children. In between taking classes, millions of these individuals hold part-time or full-time jobs while also managing the tasks of raising a family.

For many student parents, a strong campus support system is a deciding factor in whether they complete a degree or credential. This report from The Education Trust and Generation Hope offers a snapshot of several ways in which institutions and policymakers can improve the college-going experience for student parents.

According to the report, child care is critical for many student parents. But the limited availability of on-campus child care services, in tandem with long waitlists, often makes it inaccessible. A 2021 report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that access to affordable child care is essential to supporting student parents in completing a degree, yet on-campus child care options are shrinking. In 2015, 49 percent of four-year public colleges provided on-campus services, down from 55 percent in 2003.

Institutions that do offer on-campus child care may not have enough slots to go around. Programs often have long waitlists, and few provide extended or evening hours. This forces many student parents to rely on a patchwork system of care.