College Connect: The Money Ups and Downs of College Students from a Single-Parent Home

Posted By David Wilhite

By Reann Huber

On the surface, it is not easy to see any differences between a college student who comes from a single-parent household or one from dual-income household. But, research shows these different environments often lead to students approaching their college expenses in completely different ways.

University of Georgia associate professor Diann Moorman has done research in bankruptcy, single-parent households, credit card debt, and other finance areas and provided information on how different it can be for college students who come from single-parent homes as opposed to the common dual-income households when handling college expenses.

“In a household with two parents working, the student has likely many more financial resources available,” said Moorman. “Single-parent households likely are struggling financially and more of the responsibility of the student’s bills falls on the student’s shoulders instead of the parent’s shoulders.”

Many students who come from a dual-income home are able to cover more readily common expenses like cellphone bills, car payments, insurance and credit card bills. In this case, college students in this situation may or may not choose to work a part-time job to build up extra funds, but for other students, a part-time job is needed to cover majority of their expenses.

“Students who are more financially on their own likely have to work a part-time job to pay for expenses, which might lead to lower grades due to the time crunch,” said Moorman. “Here in Georgia, that means maybe losing the HOPE scholarship due to time constraint issues.”

Moorman also reflected on how coming from a single-parent household does not come with endless downsides, but can give them advantages that college students from dual-income homes will most likely not be able to benefit from.

“An upside is that [college] students from lower income/single-parent households likely qualify for Pell Grants, Work Study and additional financial aid that students from wealthier households do not qualify for,” says Moorman.

The increased possibility of financial aid opportunities for students coming from those households is a great way to relieve stress that inevitably builds up trying to balance a part-time job and education.

While students from all backgrounds are working to avoid unwanted debts from loans and credit cards, understanding the differences of college students coming from single-parent or dual-income households can bring a new perspective when looking at how these students are handling college expenses.

Reann Huber is a journalism major at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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