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single mamas in school

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
can this be a sticky? is there already a thread?

single mamas in school, raise your hands! just wondering how you do it - i currently work full time (thurs-sun, so 32 hrs, while dd is at her dads...50/50 custody that we made up and haven't involved courts yet so there is no CS agreement), take classes part time in the evening and online so dd is home with me sun pm through thurs am and stays with a friend for my evening classes. i am hoping to be in school full time in the fall and really wondering if i can make it working the bare minimum if at all. so, for those of you working on a degree as single parents, how do you make it work? i am particularly interested in those of you who do it without child support (CS). and hey, if this could be a sticky or bumped frequently, we could be our own support group. maybe this belongs in working/student mamas, so feel free to move if necessary, though i thought this forum was more relevant.

looking forward to hearing from you!!!
post #2 of 32
I'll raise my hand! I'm a single mama with four kids, going to school full time. I get child support, but my ex hasn't worked for a while now, and that might dry up. I've calculated that if I take out max. student loans, we can just survive without me having to work. I'm predentall, and taking lots of math and science classes- not the kind where you can whip out papers while half asleep.

We live in a subsidized apartment, and eat with food stamps. Beyond those deal breakers, what do you really need? Just enough to cover gas and utilities, when it comes down to it. For me it's worth it, because in a few years we will be in an income bracket light-years from where we are right now. Plus I love being in school!
post #3 of 32
My hand is raised too!

I am a solo mama to a 6.5 year old boy, a full-time 1st grade teacher AND a full-time graduate student in counseling psychology.

How do I make it work? Well, I just started grad school in April, so I am still finding my groove. But, it hasn't been too bad. Each quarter will be different, though.

Currently, I have 3 classes on 2 afternoon/evenings a week. Ds spends one afternoon with his best friend and I pick him up on my way home from class at 7pm. Their family has been an absolute godsend to us. The other afternoon/evening, he comes home from school with his afterschool teacher (who is a good friend of ours) and they spend the evening together. He is happily passed out by the time I get home at 10:30pm.

I have no choice but to work full-time. Thankfully, I have been in the same grade level for 3 years, so it is pretty routine by now. My third year of grad school will be interning, so that will get a little stickier. BUT... that is still 2 years away. A lot can happen in 2 years!

Financially, I am at a bit of an advantage, as I do have a somewhat well-paying career with amazing benefits. Albeit, I do work in the lowest paying school district in the entire bay area. Anyway, I do receive student loans for tuition and a little extra for the added childcare expense.

What helps me is to keep life as simple and easy as possible. Sandwiches and breakfast for dinner are commonplace for us, as is healthy eating out 1-2 times a week. Efficiency and flexibility are the key elements in our lives.

Oh, and asking for help when needed. I have been known to call ds' friend's parents and say, "Can he please come over and hang out with you guys for a few hours, so I can write this bloody paper!"
post #4 of 32
Thread Starter 
thanks mamas! i'm feeling a little overwhelmed, trying to pick a new apartment (have been living w/friends in a house, so rent has been a breeze) and am wondering how on earth i'll make it work. i also work retail, so the job security is there but it's still frightening.

singin'intherain - i feel ya - i'm on ebt - michigan food stamps (wondering if this will be messed with if i move to a different county?), but i've got a bit of cc debt that WAS almost paid off until some moron caused an accident and i had to pay my car insurance deductible now i'm back to square one. or at least, square 3 or something, the debt isn't AS bad as it was last fall? but back to paying minimums, you know? at least food is covered. i'm mostly just worried about making rent/utils/car+insurance/phone/gas/childcare. someone please remind me to breathe. i'm not even to full time classes yet! i'm part time right now, and am totally estimating how the fall semester will be (i have my financial aid award letter, so i at least know that number) with classload and work.
post #5 of 32
i'm a full time social work student with ds4 & ds2. their dad takes them sometimes, but not consistently, and contributes financially sometimes, but dependability is not one of his virtues.
my boys are in subsidized daycare, my rent is cheap, we eat rice & beans most of the time and we walk everywhere instead of having a car or paying bus fare. i live on student aid. i've found that when i don't have a job i have the time and energy to earn straight a's in school, making me eligible for all sorts of scholarships. last semester the scholarships, bursaries, etc. from my grades & life circumstances earned me more than a minimum wage job would have. i also do some tutoring at the school, but that really only pays for my yarn (for knitting) and nothing else.
i love being in school and plan to go to grad school when i have my bsw.
post #6 of 32
I work full-time, 7am to 3pm, with a 45 minute commute on each side, I am a 3-4 classes per semester paralegal major, in a fully online program, and my son is 4 1/2 years old. I do get some child support, so maybe I'm not the person you are looking for in responding, but I just wanted to offer encouragement.

I drop my son off at my parents' house at 6 am and then head to work, work 7-3. DS goes to full day Headstart. We don't qualify for Headstart, but I am very fortunate that in my small community, once they have all the qualifying kids enrolled, they open it up to others in the community and I pay tuition for it, which is pretty much what the child support is for. After school my son is watched for about half an hour by a 16 year old high school girl who DS and I ADORE! This summer he will go back to his regular summertime in-home babysitter who is here in town near my work. A couple days a week my son has taekwondo and he will be in swimming lessons starting this summer, so our late afternoons/evenings are busy 2-3 days a week. His bedtime is sometime between 7:30 and 8:00 and he is really good at bedtime, so no issues. Then my school time is 8-midnight every night. Needless to say I don't get a lot of sleep every night. I never do schoolwork on Saturdays or Sundays during the day, or in the afternoons, unless DS is with his father. When I am with him, my time belong to DS and we go find inexpensive activities, or go to Grandma and Papa's house to play. I put in about 25 hours a week of school work in the evenings. I am tired a lot, but it's worth it to me. Good luck!!!
post #7 of 32
student nurse here! I go to school full time, which includes clinical rotations and long hours of studying in the wee hours of the morning. (I usually go to bed at 8am when my dd's go to sleep and wake up at 3:30 am to study-it's nuts i know but my brain in more refreshed in the am)
How do we do it? Student loans, Pell grants, food stamps, section 8, childcare assistance and working odd jobs here and there. We live pretty frugally. I graduate in one year and then I'll be taking the NCLEX for my RN.
You can make it work, with some sacrificies and some assistance if you need it
post #8 of 32
Raising my hand!

I go to school full time (except for right now, summer session I can only take 4 credits). Its all online (for now).

I am working this summer, just a couple hours a day, and ds is going to a homeschool summer camp program.
post #9 of 32
Me too!!! I was so fortunate to get section 8. Also have food stamps and medicade. Working pt at a grocery store to pay for the other things (internet, gas, insurance, cell phone). It's tight! My mom babysits (I give her 1/2 my paycheck). BUT I'm in school full time and love it I used to have a 'good' job but have a whole different path I want to pursue so I can give my little one a fab life. Only started in Jan and sometimes I feel like it's all too much (why I am finally on this forum looking for someone to connect with). I know it's going to be awesome forever and ever afterwards (as long as the X doesn't ruin it all) though so that pulls me through. Anything worth having has a price.
Speaking of.... I should be working on my lit paper...
post #10 of 32
Thread Starter 
hey happy frogs - i work at a grocery store too i don't have section 8...i think the waitlist here in michigan is like 5 years. i do have food stamps and dd is on her dad's insurance but will be on medicaid soon. i'm in school part time and work full time but am hoping to switch that. i'm here if you want someone to connect with! i hope we can keep this post going as a support thread.
post #11 of 32
Hello! I am a full-time student with three children (ages 10, 8, and 18 months). I am in a distance degree program for a bachelors in social sciences (psych and human development) and then will hopefully be accepted into a MSW program when I graduate after the spring semester. I finally realized that I am just not capable of working and school and children, so I gave up the work and accepted food stamps and housing assistance while finishing my degree. It was just too much for all of us. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to just focus on school and family! Oh - I receive no child support and no help with the children, unless there is an emergency. It is doable...
post #12 of 32
Me too. A different situation than what it sounds like most of you are in though. I work full time and want to switch careers. It's going to take me a couple of years of part-time to get up to snuff to apply to the graduate program I want to get into. Luckily, I have a couple of things that worked out really well:
#1) my employer is willing to reimburse my tuition once I turn in grades (yay!)
and, #2) I found an in-state university that JUST started offering all of the classes I need online. Good, solid program, tuition within the budget my work will cover, and all of the classes I need!

I don't quite know yet how it's all going to play out. Classes start in a couple of weeks. I'm alternately excited and terrified.

I've been trying to get my life into a routine. I suck miserably at it, but I'm getting closer. The plan is to use the 8:30pm - 10:30pm time-slot for studying as-needed. Here's hoping!!!

At the same time as I get the academics sorted out, I'm trying to arrange my life with as financial flexibility (=no payments + emergency fund) as possible for when I go back full time so that I can live on a grad student stipend.

There are so many "if"s in this plan...seriously, I think I flip between excited and terrified about a dozen times a day!!!
post #13 of 32
Me, too! (At least until this weekend--DP and I are moving in together this weekend so the single part will no longer technically apply!)

I have been in school full-time without working for three years, single for about seven months now and IT CAN BE DONE. I have totally had moments of freaking out about things--namely money--and wondering if it was possible. It is, and I have survived. I know that things have been tight, financially, and it's been scary and difficult at times, but it REALLY helps to have a goal and ambitions so that you have the faith that you are working towards a better life and that all this stress really is temporary.

I get EBT Food stamps, too, (and will be switching counties here in Michigan, too, Rosadesal--I'll let you know if there are any problems but I don't anticipate their being any), Medicaid for dd and I and fuel assistance. I receive a full-scholarship and grant money and that's what I live in, more or less (no child support here, either--not yet, anyway!). Like joysbear, I have found that not working (or in your case only working a little?) really allows me to dedicate myself to my schoolwork in a way that I couldn't do if I was working full-time. I *totally* realize that that is not a realistic/possible option for a lot of single mamas and that many of those mamas rock in their classes, so don't take what I'm saying as discouragement from working. Just that if you do decide to cut way back on your hours, I think it will be very good for your academic goals--and financially it's possible.

Doesn't sound like child care is really a problem for you but know that there are often lots of resources available through your CC or university, too. I got money from the Women's Resource Center at my cc every semester (in addition to my grant and scholarship money), and now my child care is 100% subsidized through my university.

I guess the biggest advice I'd give is not necessarily practical advice but just the suggestion that YOU CAN DO IT! I have had moments (like being faced with a $2,000 car insurance bill that I simply COULD NOT PAY, or getting a shut-off notice from DTE, etc. etc. etc.) where I felt so scared and lost and everything always worked out. I try really hard to focus on the big picture and say, okay, if I don't have car insurace (which I ended up finding something really cheap!), what's the worst that could happen? And I realize that even though I've made a lot of sacrifices and had a lot of stressful moments that the big plan of my life is still working out--that not having car insurance, not being able to pay off my credit card debt, whatever the thing is: none of those things are derailing me from my focus of finishing this degree and improving my life for myself and dd (and baby-to-be!). And that's what's REALLY important!

Hats off to all you mamas!!
post #14 of 32
I will be when I go back to school in the fall. I am very excited because I had to take the year off to deal with family court (different states) and am very eager to get back to school.

I go to college in DC and am halfway through my BA in Psych. I have an almost 10 month old son. Right now I am working and my family watches him for me, but when I go back to school they won't be able to help out because they are in MA. I am not planning to work at all once I start classes. I am fortunate enough that my school is subsidizing housing for us and giving me a lot of aid. My one major expense that my school doesn't have the resources to help out with is childcare. I plan to cover that with student loans. My classes are only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which cuts down on the costs for a sitter quite a bit.

Once I finish my BA I really want to go on to get my MSW.

I don't really have any advice, but I'm in a similar type situation.
post #15 of 32
i am raising my hand even tho right this second i am not in school, i was for a very long time and will be again in a very short time. i needed a break, badly.

i have not idea how i make it work. i just let everything slide that wasnt

i am telling you everything else just needed to go.
post #16 of 32
Thread Starter 
la sombra - congrats on moving in together!

sounds like you and i are in a similar place in some ways. where in mi are you? you can pm me if you want.

thanks for all the encouragement ladies. its been great to read everyone's stories. i hope this post continues!!!!!

i've been dealing with finding a new apartment on very short notice (long story short, our landlord is a jerk), and explaining that yes, i am a single parent. yes, i am 25 and i know i look like i'm 12. yes, i work. yes, i have food stamps. yes, i use student loans to supplement my work income. landlords look at me like i'm nuts, or mumble excuses about why they can't rent me an apartment. LAME. don't you think a 25 year old working, single, student parent would be quite responsible? oy vey.

keep the stories coming! anyone in spring/summer semester right now? what are you taking?
post #17 of 32
So happy to see this thread! I am bumping so I can respond later tonight.
post #18 of 32
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by LoveOhm View Post
So happy to see this thread! I am bumping so I can respond later tonight.
looking forward to it!!!!

okay, mamas...what i need help with is budgeting. finances. student loans. etc. i want to figure out the MINIMUM i can work and still make ends meet - because i feel like i should not need to be working 32 hours/wk (approx $1k income/mo) and taking out student loans - i want to cut my work hours down to no more than 20. i'll post the budget i've made soon - at work on break now, gotta go back!! can any of you share yours, those of you who do NOT receive child support and who rely on student loans to help you out?
post #19 of 32
Thread Starter 

the numbers

so, i am currently number crunching like this:
rent: $535
electric: $20 (an estimate - this is what i paid at my old place, and i am moving to a new place that is smaller and i have a similar set up)
car pmt: $210
car insurance: $67
cell phone: $70
paying off cc's $120/mo (oh god i would love to just pay the effing cards off. one is at $700, one at $1300, and the only open one is at $700 w/like $750 open)
gas: $120/mo
babysitter (when i'm in class): $120/mo
food is covered under EBT/WIC (so, so grateful)
am i missing anything?

so, overall, that's just shy of $1300/mo output. i make $1000/mo at my job now working 32hrs/wk. i have a total of $2700 coming to me in school money for this semester (now thru august), and $535 of that is the deposit for my apartment that i'm signing a lease for this weekend.

my plan was to go to school full time in the fall at a university, which would give me approx. $4k/semester in student loans if i wanted them. dd would be in on campus daycare most likely, and if that is full (which it probably is), she'll stay with the same babysitter.

i am debating doing one more semester at a community college, part time, just to save a little more money and make a bigger dent in the cc's...but my work is driving me nuts, i'm terrified to start a new job (if i can find one that lets me only work fri/sat/sun?), and i just want to get this degree finished.

how did you plan this out? i am so overwhelmed!
post #20 of 32

I have an 11 y/o son and a 9 y/o daughter and I'm in school full-time. I start my nursing program in the Fall. I lost my job in March so it's been tight lately. The kids get Social Security from their dad, but he doesn't pay child support. Hopefully Texas will remedy that shortly since the jerk owes me $52k in back child support.

I pay for school with loans, grants, and scholarships. I have food stamps and the kids are on Medicaid. I'm looking into TANF since I don't qualify for unemployment and I can't find a job.

We also share a house with my mom who helps pay the bills and every so often helps with the kids. I've been a student off and on since I was first pregnant with my son so the student thing is second nature to me now. And I've been single parenting since my daughter was a newborn, so that is second nature as well.

I think the key to being successful in anything is planning ahead as much as possible. If you want to go to school, cut your expenses as much as possible and figure out every single place you can get income from. With planning and accurate budgeting it's really not all that hard to make it work.
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