Guest post by Jessica Wisser, Generation Hope
Published this fall, Generation Hope’s newest report, “Higher Together: The Impact of a College Degree for Young Parents,” reveals the tremendous impact completing college can have on teen parents and their families. This is the first report of its kind, exploring the economic and social impacts of a college degree for a population that is often left out of higher education conversations. The report shares the post-college experiences of Generation Hope’s alumni, who were all teen parents working toward their Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees. Generation Hope alumni were a part of the larger student parent population that makes up 1 in 5 undergraduate college students nationwide. The organization’s Scholar Program has helped teen parents complete college by providing direct support, such as mentoring, tuition assistance, a peer community, and other vital services, addressing their immediate and long-term needs.
In surveying alumni, Generation Hope found consistent themes related to the impact that a college degree can have on young parents and their children. Key findings include:
Average annual earnings for teen parents more than doubled after earning a college degree. While nearly 90% of respondents were earning under $30,000 annually at the time that they started college, the average salary for those who are now working full-time is more than $60,000 annually.
Nearly one-third of teen parent graduates continued on to advanced degrees. Thirty-two percent of Bachelor’s degree earners are either working on or have earned a graduate degree.
Teen parents recognized the value that their college degree brought to their lives. Almost 90% of respondents indicated at least one positive outcome from earning their degrees.
College completion unlocks higher earnings for young parents, but continued efforts to dismantle systemic oppression are essential. Employment discrimination, lack of generational wealth, and pay disparities create ongoing challenges for young families. Even among graduates working full time, 50% are accessing some form of public assistance. Black teen parent graduates were more likely than Hispanic/Latinx graduates to access public assistance, at 63% and 46%, respectively.
To download the full report referenced above, visit https://www.generationhope.org/alumni-report-2022.
Generation Hope is a community partner of the Crimsonbridge Foundation’s College Success program, which works with partners to improve college completion, especially for first-generation and students underrepresented in higher education, elevate research and innovation, and build an infrastructure of student supports that serve all college students. The Foundation has partnered with Generation Hope to develop their scholar program and grow their FamilyU Technical Assistance Program for colleges seeking to improve how they support parenting students. To watch a recording of Generation Hope’s webinar exploring the report findings in greater detail, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55F27l8Yt7M.