For Parents and Caregivers, Online School is the Way to Go

There are endless demands placed on parents and caregivers. Being a parent is a full-time job in itself. Add to that the stress of supporting that family with a full-time job, and it’s no wonder many parents—particularly single parents—believe going back to school is impossible.

Online education can help single, working and stay-at-home parents overcome the many barriers that prevent them from going back to school. Here’s how.

Why Parents Often Don’t Return to School—and How Online School Helps.

They don’t have enough time. Between the demands of a full-time job and a full-time family, parents often feel that they don’t have any time to spare for education. And when it comes to traditional school, this may be true. Parents have to go to school when they’re not working, which means they often aren’t available to take care of their children when they come home from school. It can be highly difficult—and expensive—to arrange for childcare to cover additional time away from home.

With online education, parents don’t have to find childcare or conform to a traditional class schedule. They can study at night when the kids are in bed, in the morning before taking them to school, or on lunch breaks at work—whatever fits in their schedule. This makes it much easier to manage all the demands working parents face while in school.

Money. School can be expensive. Online schools tend to be less expensive as a whole than traditional schools, but like brick-and-mortar universities, tuition can vary widely. Parents save, however, when it comes to childcare and commuting costs. In addition, you’ll save in materials—you won’t have to buy books at expensive campus bookstores—and since many online schools are more accustomed than traditional schools to dealing with nontraditional students, life experience and transfer credits may be more readily available.

Confidence. Going back to school can be intimidating for a variety of reasons. Nontraditional students often worry they’ll feel out of place in a classroom where most of the other students are decades younger. In online education, this is less of an issue—more of the students are nontraditional. As a working parent, it’s highly likely most of the students in your classes will have backgrounds similar to yours. The forum format of online discussions allows everyone to participate without the more confident students talking over everyone else. For these reasons, it’s often easier for nontraditional students to transition to an online school than a traditional classroom.

Scholarships for Parents

Start with the FAFSA. All students, both traditional and nontraditional, should start their search for funds by filling out the FAFSA. In this way, you can apply for low-interest government loans and grants such as Pell Grants and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG). As a parent with dependents, it’s likely you may qualify for Federal aid even if you think you earn too much.

Project Working Mom…and Dads, Too! This scholarship, awarded by Elearners, offers over $2 million in funds to provide full tuition payment to a select number of moms and dads looking to continue their education. The scholarship is offered in partnership with five online schools: Ashford University, Capella University, Everest University, Virginia College Online, and Ashworth College. Grant winners have the opportunity to attend one of these institutions free of charge.

The Arkansas Single Parent Fund: This scholarship is designed for single parents who live in Arkansas. Grants for nontraditional students—including parents—are not uncommon at the state level; if you don’t live in Arkansas, check your state’s Department of Education or Bureau of Education website to see what grants are offered to nontraditional students in your state.

Soroptimist Women’s Opportunity Awards: Grants for single parents can also be found with private nonprofit organizations. These grants are designed to support women who are primary caregivers in their families by offering over $1 million in grant money for tuition. The money can be applied to tuition or to ancillary costs such as transportation, childcare or supplies. Qualified applicants should be enrolled in an undergraduate or vocational training program.
Online schools give moms and dads a way to return to school and earn the education they need to provide better lives for their families. With the right online school, there’s no limit to what you can achieve as a single, working or stay-at-home parent.