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crazyeight 09-13-2009 08:54 PM

I wanna hear your story. I know it's been done, is being done. I'm just so tired I'd really really love to hear about how you do it, the budget, the childcare, what extra's you recieve as a single parent, grants, how you live being a student and a parent.

I'm also pregnant and due in april and obviously a bit late for this semester (i think?) but I have to start somewhere and waiting around (even daily) is driving me up a wall. I am not officially divorced yet but the paperwork has been started/i have a case number and am already living on my own and have NO access to his full income (he does pay me child support although he doesn't have to yet). I just started to get into the welfare side of help so I have all my documentation ready to go.

rainbowmoon 09-13-2009 08:58 PM

Are you still in Tucson?

Pima has a childcare center on campus.

You more than likely will qualify for financial aide and/ Pell grants. I would get a course catalog (if you are into Pima or any school you are interested in, even my massage school offered financial aide!) check it out then make an appt. with an advisor.

josybear 09-13-2009 09:23 PM

to reduce childcare costs i take some classes by distance ed.
i use the tv as a babysitter and study in another room a lot.
i apply for all the assistance, scholarships, grants, etc that i can, go to the food bank regularly, and take people up on it whenever they offer help. for xmas and b'days i ask for text books. if i didn't i'd be sunk.
i also try to stay a week ahead on all my reading, assignments, etc, so if i get sick or my kids get sick i don't end up way behind. it means that the beginning of the semester is crazy as i try to do all my classes doubletime, but once i'm ahead i know that i can relax, my life (and grades) won't be destroyed by a cold.
i'll post more when i think of it, but basically it's doable. not easy, but doable and worth it.

DogwoodFairy 09-13-2009 10:51 PM

I am enrolled at a community college and qualified for full Pell Grant, an Opportunity Grant (from my state), and of course, loans. This summer and fall, I took the loans so I can take care of some much needed car repairs, buy my kiddo some clothes (I get no child support), and put about $1,000 in the bank for emergency. I do not plan to use loans (subsidized or not) in the future unless I am really hard up. I apply for every single scholarship I qualify for to pay tuition costs/books, even the itty bitty $100 ones, and hopefully this coming winter/spring I can start stashing the majority of my Grant money to pay for living expenses or other costs as they arise. I do not want to be saddled with insane amounts of debt. Im heading into law (though law school is just an idea, not necessarily a goal at this point), so I will have plenty of opportunity to acquire debt later down the road .

DHS pays for 80% of my childcare, otherwise I would be sunk. They actually would pay the full monthly amount, but I chose childcare that was a bit more expensive, because the quality of my ds's care was paramount. He's 2. So DHS pays $425/mo, and I kick in about $80. Ds is in care 28-32 hours a week, starting Oct 1st. This will be incredibly hard for him and I, but I dont see a way around it. I need extra time to deal with schoolwork during the day, as doing it all in the wee hours when he is in bed didnt work for me this summer. I was burnt out.

I also work 2 part time cleaning jobs, amounting to 10 hrs/wk, just for some extra cash (which I do report to DHS). Its only about $90/wk. It pays for gas (I commute, so gas is expensive for me), and "fun" money: lunch out for ds & I, his $5/wk gymnastics open gym, sometimes a $4 trip to the kids museum.

I am not very good at maintaining a budget, so this has been hard for me. Its also been very difficult to finally put my ds in childcare almost full time, but he has been thriving, so I feel better about my decision. It literally took 3+ months of interviewing providers to find one I feel comfortable with, so its never too early to start searching, trust me.

Also, I rely on any state assistance I qualify for. I do not at all feel bad about his - I worked for many years before becoming a SAHM during my marriage, and I am in a position where I need all the help I can get. I receive TANF money, which is not a huge amount, because I am working, and they do consider financial aid partial income, but I dont know how they figure it. Basically, I make $90/wk working, and received $2500 a semester in loans/grants, and I still qualified for $300/mo in TANF money. The TANF money I use to buy diapers, household supplies, cat food, personal hygiene products, etc. I also use it to pay my car insurance and my credit card bill ($135/mo for those 2 bills). I dont receive a penny in c/s, so all these resources help me tremendously, yes, even food boxes.

Its workable, its hard, it is SO worth it. I cant imagine working a minimum wage job right now, putting ds in care 32 hrs/wk, and still barely scraping by after all the expenses. I take heart in knowing that my son will grow up with family who are ALL college educated. I feel that when we set higher education as a standard instead of a privilege, our children are far more likely to follow our footsteps. And when I am back in the workforce,I will be making damn good money, and doing something that I love and excel at - what could be a better example for my child than having him watch me ENJOY my work and my life?

meemee 09-13-2009 11:31 PM

i could not return to school till dd was 6 and started first grade.

i do not work part time. instead i take big loads - about 17 units in community college and take out loans, qualify for financial aid and any scholarship i qualify from.

i get food stamps adn nothing else.

i rent a room, live simply and manage. i coparent with my ex who has a flexible schedule so he takes dd if she is sick. so far in the last two semesters its just been one day.

i dont have any family support. i have some friends who help me. right now my car is in teh shop. and so my life is CRAZY trying to pick dd from school after my school, yet it is happening.

the thing is i never imagined it was doable untill i made it happen. and now i find it IS doable and i can manage. i plan to take out student loans in future. i dont plan to work except v. part time which woudl cover no expenses. mainly internship for experience. i have chosen this route because if i had to work, i would miss out on time with my dd which i am not wiling to do.

let me tell you even without working part time, just with school, school work and taking care of dd - i find life is v. v. hard. taking a heavy load of 17 units puts a lot of pressure on me. studying takes a LOT of my time. student life is much HARDER for me than WOHM life.

sbphotogr 09-13-2009 11:49 PM

I did it one day at a time....that was about all I could handle. You'll make it through!

wytchywoman 09-14-2009 11:39 PM

I'm in my second year at Pima and they have a lot of online classes which eliminates the need and cost of childcare. Also, I don't qualify for federal financial aid because of the program I'm in but I do qualiofy for help through the Pima Foundation. Last Year I got $1000 and this year I got $1500. Give that a try.

crazyeight 09-15-2009 07:42 PM

I am not sure I plan to stay in the state let alone in pima county. i may take a few classes but not sure.

although i know i can take online courses etc i really have my heart set (and my sanity) on going to a class. i've been couped up for almost 5 years with hardly ANY social interaction and what little i've gotten is always kid oriented. i'm completely and totally burnt out and i am being a HORRIBLE mother. being able to further education, let the kids be social and allow us all to grow without having to pay much (if hopefully any) OOP is a blessing. i just wish i could take a class or 2 NOW through pima but i think i'm to late.

meemee~ i know i can make it happen. ironically the hardest part for me is just saying "ok i'm taking these classes!" and then figureing out where my children will stay. i'm extremely dissapointed that ds will not be going to K this year.

LoveOhm 09-15-2009 07:51 PM

I have been meaning to respond to this thread.

Like the PP, I take it one day at a time, but also cram in the beginning to get ahead so I don't end up falling behind. I was in school prior to having dd so I took one semester off because her expected due date was close to finals and when I returned to college I started very part-time and with no established childcare --- just used family and a close friend as needed. I keep really good grades, take advantage of all free aid and take out loans if needed but I try to keep my debt low because I don't plan to go into a high-paying field and already have past debt that needs to be paid.

General Tips:

Keep your overhead as low as possible so you don't have the need for huge amounts of debt.

Have childcare lined up for when you have class time (both for in person & online classes)

Have childcare lined up or an early bedtime clearly established so you can ensure quality study time

Think about things you can do now to ensure you are competitive in the job market once you complete your degree. Alot of people have a degree what extra do you have? If you need to intership, work, etc. are you making choices that will build to the resume in your desired field once you do have your degree.

rainbowmoon 09-15-2009 07:53 PM

There are other (trade/technical) schools in Tucson (some with childcare available!) Brown Mackie, Apollo, Art Institute of Tucson, etc. I guess it will depend on what you want to study..Anywhere you move will likely have something for you but you might not qualify for the in state tuition rate right away.

LoveOhm 09-15-2009 09:50 PM

Originally Posted by dhinderliter View Post
although i know i can take online courses etc i really have my heart set (and my sanity) on going to a class. i've been couped up for almost 5 years with hardly ANY social interaction and what little i've gotten is always kid oriented. i'm completely and totally burnt out and i am being a HORRIBLE mother. being able to further education, let the kids be social and allow us all to grow without having to pay much (if hopefully any) OOP is a blessing. i just wish i could take a class or 2 NOW through pima but i think i'm to late.
While you might be too late for this semester (I am not sure) you really need to start applying for financial aid and admission now! It takes 6-8 weeks for most financial aid offices to process your FAFSA with their available funds and offer any sort of award letter then it takes another 3-5 weeks for you to actually see any funds so I would suggest starting now for Spring.

About classes in person vs. classes online I have taken three different styles of classes within my one small liberal arts college 1) tradition undergraduate classes 2) online classes and 3) a weekend format which meets 6 weekends per semester for undergraduates.

My views on the three:

1) As a parent I don't quite feel in sync with 18 - 20 year-olds so the conversations in some traditional undergrad classes lacked complexity that comes from life experience. This will be different in larger universities but I go to a small liberal arts college so it's not that case in my situation. I would ask the average age of their students because your classes in person will reflect that student body.

2) Online classes can be REALLY insightful but it truly depends on the professor as well as the university. Also of note is even at major schools not all professors are experienced teaching online so it take a class or two before each instructor finds their groove they get their but if you are one of those first couple classes the organization of the class can feel all over the place. I highly suggest enrolling in a major university or college like UCLA, University of Michigan, NYU then opting to take your classes online instead of enrolling in a school like University of Pheonix, Kaplan....

While others may disagree with my advice, I give it based on my direct knowledge of several large companies in the major city I live in, which include government jobs, that do not honor degree's from the latter schools. Also if you are truly looking for intellect and stimulation I would go for the quality of the professors which tend to be at major universities and colleges while many professors at the latter schools are often adjuncts increasing their income or building their resume in hopes of teaching at the type of places I suggest.

3) Weekend College
I now attend a weekend format at the same local liberal arts college I attended as a traditional undergrad and supplement with an online class or two. The weekend format is by far my favorite option! I allows me to be among a diverse peer group of 18-20 somethings from the tradition program who want extra classes or to sleep in during the traditional week , working adults who want to advance their careers, mom's who can only attend when dad is home, etc. so the conversations that arise in class are very diverse and rich. (As I stated before I do think this will be the case in large traditional universities and college too). I like that I am chatting and doing intellectual work with others on my class weekend but that I also get a great deal of time between weekends that is self-paced. My degree requirement and required class hours are not different than my traditional student peers and my diploma nor transcript will not show that I attended a weekend format of classes. It has allowed me to max my time with my daughter while also meeting my own needs to non-child related stimulation so I could not be more grateful.

For grad school my dd will be school age and will have a longer day than her 1/2 day preschool so I think at that time if I am not already working in my field of choice that I'll try to go the traditional route for my master's with classes at the same time she is in school. If I am working then I will continue in the weekend format rather than do night classes. Really I just like minimizing my time away from my dd but also filling my own needs to advance myself so I can provide for both of us.

jujyfruitbaby 09-15-2009 11:18 PM

It's hard, and I'd recommend that you go as slowly as you can afford to go. First so you don't kill yourself with work, and second so that you can actually participate and learn in your classes, rather than just play them for points like a video game.

I'm in a slightly different situation because I'm at a large university, I've got a bachelor's and master's, and am doing a second bachelors. Originally I signed up as a hedge against poverty and for the university standing -- I do independent work & it's convenient to say that I'm attached to this university; you get less of the "oh she's an independent scholar/writer/flake/whatever", and you also get access to grants & various opportunities. I did get a staff position at the U, so that hooks me in, but at this point I'm so close to finishing the degree that I may as well.

I've learned not to take more than one class per semester. I'm registered for two, because I just had a gut feeling that I might want to hold student loans in reserve, but the second is an independent study and I plan to take an incomplete & actually do the work next semester. This semester I've just got too much paying work & work on a book to do.

As for fitting in...well, cripes, I could be most of those kids' mother at this point. Even the grad students look adorable from here. I'm much closer socially and in age to the profs, and I've been friends with many of them for a good ten years...and they're now the aging, tenured profs, not the hot ones on the way up. It's not a problem for me except in finding people to study with -- it was one thing when I was studying with the kids ten years ago, and I was single/childless, but now it's difficult. I tend to dive into the work aggressively, but they don't expect hardball from Mom, and it's too easy for me to forget that I've got a 25-year head start on them. They don't know how to deal with non-professors my age, and it's obviously awkward for them. For me, too -- I end up feeling clumsy and kind of brutish. I did accidentally meet a young newlywed grad in my class, and I might study with him.

The thing is that if you're interested in what you're studying & able to do it, if you have good profs, and if what you're studying can actually lead to a living, you'll be fine. You'll have a good time. It'll be hard, but good.

One thing -- if you do end up moving to a state college, try to get professors who have children. There's a lot of anti-child sentiment among childless faculty, and some of them can be openly hostile to students and colleagues who ask for special consideration because they have this whole other job or two outside the classroom. The killer is they're sure they're doing you a favor by refusing to cut you a break, too. I've been very lucky -- all my profs for the last few years have been family people & humane. Makes life much easier.

mamafuko 09-17-2009 12:40 AM

I'm not a student anymore. I made it through! It's definitely doable, but as others have been saying, it's really, really hard. I almost feel like I have post-traumatic stress from it. Basically, besides eating and sleeping, all I did was study. I would drink coffee after my ds went to bed, and stayed up to study until very, very late (or early), and somehow dragged myself around the next day. I was not clear-headed and probably wasn't as attentive to ds as I should have been. On top of everything, I was still reeling from the divorce. But I think it was all worth it. I figured it was a short-term sacrifice of health and happiness for the long term. I was right. After I graduated, I went through a purging phase. I let myself unravel a bit. But now I really like where I am, and my ds is as happy as ever. He actually tells me how happy he is all the time. We have a lot of years ahead of us, so I think the few years of misery was worth it.

I hope my post was more encouraging than discouraging, though I wanted to be realistic.

Kiera Saltern 03-06-2012 03:38 PM

I know this thread is old and there's plenty of information here, but, for any single mama-student out there who wants help or encouragement and lands this forum in a Google search (like I did); ...



THE MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR ALL SINGLE MAMA'S ATTEMPTING SCHOOL, SOCIAL LIFE, DATING, CAREERS, LIFE ADVANCEMENT, ETC., IS SIMPLY TO KNOW THAT YOU CAN AND WILL SUCCEED. It's very scary to branch out as a single mom, you have no idea of your resources, what you can do able getting help or what you might be capable of at all. But, slowly it will all come. I have a two year old and my husband and I split right after she was born, I am STILL discovering new resources to help me stay on my feet.


As for school, I started with just one class, my daughter was an infant at the time, alike I wanted to be on campus, to get out of the house and into the social environment, and it was a good warm up for what was ahead. Next semester, I took two classes, then attempted a full-time schedule... which was still too much and reduced it back down to half-time. I've finally worked up to a full-time schedule and it is rough with a kiddo because with a child comes illness and real reasons for missing class and what-not. However having your child gives you a one-up on priorities and helps you to care much less about social endeavors which makes school much easier.


I love school as a single mom. Every single mom/parent should do it!

CassiopiaTheOnly 03-07-2012 06:33 PM

great reply, thanks for the encouragement :) :) :)

Attached Mama 03-07-2012 07:04 PM

I am a full time doctoral student, single mom, and homeschool my 6.5 year old. I think if you find the right situation and are extremely organized, it doesn't have to be all that difficult. Personally, I love it because being in school full time allows me far more time with my daughter than I would have if I were working full time.


My program is partly online with 1-2 weekend per month residencies and a 1 week per trimester residency. I can only speak for grad school financial aid, but Grad Plus loans allow you "up to the cost of attendance" which is tuition plus cost of living. If you can speak with the head of financial aid and prove that you have reason for higher cost of living, then they will generally give you more money. For example, the typical student shares a 2 BR apt with her boyfriend and another couple perhaps. That's 4 people paying for a 2 BR that a single mom pays for alone! In my experience it is important to be very professional, reach the head of financial aid, and present your thrifty budget on a spreadsheet.


I agree that it is important to work ahead. I spend the 2 wks between trimesters doing most of the reading for the upcoming semester. This saves me a tremendous amount of time when all I have to do is look over what I have underlined in a textbook. My daughter spends 2 days during the day with her dad, so I do the majority of my homework on those days. I will admit that I have learned to read, research and write papers in record time and still get good grades. If you are just starting off in your academic career, take full advantage of your school's writing lab and invest in a class/lecture that teaches some speed reading techniques.


For textbooks, shop around. Better yet, find students who have just finished the class you plan to take next year and offer to purchase from them. I bought all of this semester's books from a student a yr ahead of me for $50 *total* !! She generously offered. However, I would think it couldn't hurt to have some cash on hand and start making offers. "I'll give you $20 for that book right now.". smile.gif


Worst case scenario the prof changes the textbook and you are out $20 and sell it for that much....


One thing I do to keep organized is to write every assignment in a date book at the beginning of a semester. That way when I sit down to work, I can just look to see what is due next and not get overwhelmed by how much is due in the course of the next few weeks. I just always do the next thing. Simple that way.


For me, the hardest thing has been arranging childcare and dog care for my weekends away. It took me a while to find the perfectly ideal childcare arrangement. My daughter travels with me and I have two families locally where my residencies are who care for her. One is on back-up in case the other is sick.


I would also recommend that you google what the average national income is for your career, estimate your student loans and figure out (with a student loan calculator) how much you will be paying back per mo with that loan. Then estimate your "average income" on the low side and use a spreadsheet to make a projected budget for when you graduate.  I will definitely be paying back according to the income based payback plan for 20 years until the debt is cancelled. However, the alternative is that I would spend the next 20 years on public assistance b/c my undergrad was worthless for a job.


To me, being in school studying something I love, having time to be with my child and to still homeschool her all feels so perfect. I love it! ((hope that's encouraging! bouncy.gif))

Dar 03-07-2012 07:28 PM

Wow. I would never, ever go into debt for a PhD, especially one that won't lead to a high-paying career. It just doesn't make financial sense. There are plenty of B.A.s or terminal M.A.s that lead to fulfilling and decently-paying jobs... PhDs are overkill.

I'm also a single mother attending a doctoral program fulltime, and I was also homeschooling (my daughter started college fulltime last fall). However, I get a full scholarship for all of my tuition, plus a stipend we can live on (either as a fellowship or a TAship). I love it - I love my department, my university, my research, my students, my advisor... there's really nothing I'd rather be doing right now. On the other hand, I wouldn't pay for it out of pocket, and I know there are plenty of other, faster roads to a good career.

In my experience,if doctoral programs want you as a student, they generally pay you...

minnowmomma 03-08-2012 10:32 PM

I am doing it and as another poster said one day at a time. I have 10 yo at home that I am also homeschooling.I am not working right now because I don't want to take on too much and fail any classes.Just finished midterms and think I have done well so maybe I will revisit the work issue next spring.

thefragile7393 03-11-2012 07:38 PM

I am a part time student, full time worker, and I also homeschool a preschooler and a kindergartner.  I take just one or two classes every semester and I go to school year-round.  Who knows when I'll actually finish sadly lol

Kirstyandgirls 04-03-2012 05:27 AM

I'm 18mo into my three year midwifery bachelors degree. My course is all required content, ie I have to do the units set when they are set so no scope for having a lighter work loads when I need it. It's also required that I have 100% attendance ... Which means making up any sickness or other absenses, so far I owe 37 hours placement time. The course overall is 40% class time and 60% clinical placement time (which is 37.5 hrs a week working random shifts inc night and weekends) So as a single mama it's pretty hard going, I wasn't single when I started and have only been so for four months so it's all a bit new to me.

Financially I'm good, struggling a bit but the basics are covered. I'm training with the NHS so I get a bursary and 85% of my Childcare paid. As I'm on a low income I get child tax credits from the government and child benefit, I'm exempt from council tax since I'm single and a student and I get free school meals for my school age dd. I also get a student loan ... But that is only £2300 per year, all my other income is non-repayable. Also I'm planning to move out of the house I own with ex and into a rented house... Once renting I will get housing benefit from the government so they'll pay £390 towards my £650 rent! (I'm sorry but I have to say I'm so lucky to live in the uk... Everyone bitches about the economy and the nanny state but we have the most comprehensive welfare state in the world and I know that no matter what happens my children will always have food in their bellies and a roof over their head *gets of soap box*)

Childcare is my main worry, I have to work whatever shifts my mentor midwife works so that could be early, late, 13 hour days, night shift. My dd8 goes to school 8-3.20 and my dd4 goes to nursery 8-5... Ex was having then when I was working but now I'm dating he's decided to make my life as difficult as possible and swings from threatening to apply for full custody because a full time shift worker can't have kids! Or not having the kids at all greensad.gif All I can do at the moment is take in one week at a time and arrange Childcare ad hoc (I don't have much family support but a couple of friends who can help out) I've put out an ad on gum tree for a nanny but so far no response

School work wise I just take it one assignment at a time and work mainly when the kids are in school or bed... I've had everything in on time except the essay that was due over Xmas, I applied for a 10 day extension and handed in incomplete. This was the time period in which I found out abou his affair and kicked him out. Assignments since that have been handed in complete and on time smile.gif

Yeah so one day at a time is the only way to do it I think... I know because of my bursary I'm in a better position that other and trust me I am so grateful

Phoenix~Mama 04-09-2012 07:39 AM

Where does one begin to research what kind of aide they could qualify for? Start at the school you are attending?

Holland73 04-09-2012 07:53 AM

Originally Posted by Phoenix~Mama View Post

Where does one begin to research what kind of aide they could qualify for? Start at the school you are attending?

Your school will determine the amount of aid needed to attend.  Every school has a general budget for their students, although you can speak with the financial aid office to adjust the budget for certain reasons. 


Once the school receives your FAFSA and deduct what the FAFSA determines to be your contribution, you will be offered various grants (only for undergraduate, unfortunately) or loans to cover the remaining budgeted amount.  


If you haven't done your FAFSA... do it NOW, especially if you are an undergrad.  The earlier you turn in your FAFSA, the more grant money there is available.  It's on a first come, first serve basis.  If you are a grad student, it doesn't matter because there are no grants available to grad students.  irked.gif    


Phoenix~Mama 04-09-2012 07:29 PM

Found this on some of my searching today. How awesome and progressive is this that some schools offer a special help program for single moms?!  FAR too few on this list... but it's a start, right?

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