So, You Think You’re Not Eligible To Live On-Campus Because You’re a Single Mom..I Think You’re Wrong!
It seems that most of the time when we think of college students, we think of someone who is between the ages of 18 and 24. That person is probably not a parent yet. Now, obviously anyone can ( and should) go to college, and age should not be a determining factor. Given the number of financial aid opportunities that are available, not being able to afford it should not a factor either. Two of the final concerns are often where to live while in school, and of course, how to pay for your living expenses.
Some community and technical colleges have stepped up to allow housing opportunities to their qualified students. In addition to the housing opportunities at mostly private colleges that I talked about, I wanted to share information about options at public colleges. In addition to these options, many universities have made housing available for non-traditional students, graduate students, and single parents. As with many apartments that are in high demand, the trick is to apply early with a complete application and the appropriate deposits.
Although you should always try to do research on every school that has housing available for single moms, I have tried to make an accurate listing of most of the schools that I have found, and of course, the university where I went. Although you would probably expect to pay less for your living expenses when you live on campus, you will still have some monthly bills. This can often be tied into your financial aid, and is often an important factor when you’re deciding how much to borrow in student loans. Many single moms are able to live on campus and take advantage of other forms of financial aid, like TANF, food stamps, Medicaid, and assistance with child care.
Northwestern State University (No, Probably NOT The One You’re Thinking Of!)
Northwestern State University is part of the University of Louisiana school system. It’s located in Natchitoches, Louisiana and is about an hour away from Shreveport. It is a small town and last time I checked, has no public transportation and the single taxi cab in this town went out of business several years ago. Fortunately, you can walk to most of the town, and there are a variety of places to eat on campus.
The apartments that are provided are either one or two bedrooms, and you are asked to provide your own appliances. They are all in the same area, and are all one-story. Although you will not have your own fenced yard, there is plenty of parking and a playground area just outside the apartments.
You are not permitted to have any animals, not even a fish, except for the service animals you are legally allowed to have anywhere. There is also a small pond nearby where you will often see kids playing. Rent and utilities, although subject to change, are very reasonable. For more information on the school, which offers a variety of degrees and is very lenient with admissions, visit their website at: http://www.nsula.edu/
Casper College (Discontinued)
Casper College can be found in Casper, Wyoming and is a junior college that has over 50 academic options, in addition to 30 technical and career field options. This is the first school I think of when my friends have talked about needing a community college with affordable housing for single moms. Students here can attend for as little as a year and receive a professional certification, go two years for an associate’s degree, four years ( or more) for a Bachelor’s. You can even stay on campus ( maybe even in the same apartment) while you go for your Master’s with one of the other colleges in Wyoming that partner with Casper College.
The only thing that could be a problem for some single moms is that, as of November 2010, it looks like the only apartments they currently offer families are one bedroom. The upside to that, though, is that as of that date, these apartments rent for five hundred dollars each month. This includes local telephone service ( you will responsible for extra features and long distance), high-speed internet, cable television, and all of your utilities. They do not provide air-conditioning, but come on, it is Wyoming, you probably won’t need it. If I’m wrong, and you do need one, I have heard some great things about the portable air conditioners ( not window units).
If you don’t mind sharing a room with your child, or you’re okay with one of you sleeping in the living room, their website can be found at http://www.caspercollege.edu.html. You probably should keep in mind that you will have to put down a deposit of two hundred dollars if you want to live here, and that this area does get pretty cold during the winter.
Texas State Technical College
Texas State Technical College, or TSTC can be found in several parts of Texas. However, you will quickly see that family housing for full time students cannot be found at all of the campuses.
Currently, you will see campuses in Waco, Harlingen,West Texas, and Marshall. Only Waco and Harlingen currently are options for single moms who are in school full time and want to live on-campus.
The Waco campus is almost certainly one of the best options for individuals who are interested in a technical career. They have housing available even if you have a large family, with a variety of two, three, and four bedroom duplexes and houses. You are actually not on campus if you live here, but are a few blocks away from the actual campus in a subdivision of sorts. Their website can be found here: http://www.waco.tstc.edu/admissions/fs/
The Harlingen campus goes into some detail about the housing that can be used by single moms and other non-traditional students here: http://harlingen.tstc.edu/housing/Application_Process.aspx
In essence, you will have to :
1) Be a full-time student, with at least 12 credit hours per semester
2) Apply for housing as early as possible, which needs to be a minimum of one semester PRIOR to the time you want an apartment. These units go quickly, so you need to be able to plan a semester or two ahead. This may include living off-campus while you wait for your name to come up on the waiting list.
3) Show legal proof of your relationship to your kids. Typical examples include birth certificates, child-support paperwork, divorce decrees, etc.
4) Be able to pay a deposit, as well as the first month’s rent, prior to the date you move in. You may not get very much notice when your name comes up, and because of high demand, colleges rarely hold apartments for long.
Southeast Community College
If you’re from Nebraska, or have ever wanted to live there, you might be interested in this school. They have several campuses, but one location doesn’t offer any housing at all, and one only has dorm-type facilities, so the one that you might be interested is located in Milford. In December of 2010, you would be responsible for a rent payment that does not include utilities and is 680.00 each month.
This school offers many different degree plans, but seems to have a heavy emphasis on technical and medical classes. If you’d like to learn more, their website is: http://harlingen.tstc.edu/housing/Application_Process.aspx
Murray State University
Murray State University was the saving grace for a very dear friend of mine. It provided a safe place for her and her children to live when her marriage ended, very badly and she had no support from her family. Located in Murray, Kentucky, their website is listed here: http://www.murraystate.edu/
They make one and two bedroom apartments available to qualified individuals. They are apparently very accommodating of single moms, which is evident when you see how they decide who gets first chance at their apartments.
Although these apartments are used by all different types of non-traditional students, the students with the greatest priority are…single moms! At last, we’re first on something, right?
The rentals are very reasonably priced, and include all of the standard utilities. You would be responsible for cable and long-distance phone services in your completely furnished apartment, as well as a rent payment that is currently anywhere from 423-487 dollars a month.
It’s important to know that all of these colleges have one thing in common. It’s not their location, it’s not the price of the apartments, and it’s not even the curriculum. What they have in common is that they really want to help you go to school while you raise your kids.
These are only a few of the schools that are out there. If you would like to “go” to college with your kids ( and my kids loved to say that they went to college before they went to junior high), there are many other schools out there that offer family housing. A list of community colleges that offer housing can be found here:
Please be warned that some community colleges will offer regular dorms, but NOT housing for families.