School psychology graduate student Rosie Allen wasn’t sure how she was going to juggle attending Middle Tennessee State University with four young children at home.
“A lot of my classes were after school and in the evening, and my husband couldn’t help,” said the 36-year-old Allen, whose children are ages 10, 9, 6 and 4.
They needed child care, but the average cost to enroll one child in preschool or day care hovers around $3,600 a semester — similar to the cost for a full course load at MTSU.
Child care grants from MTSU’s June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students are helping financially challenged families like the Allens achieve educational goals.
Applications are open now for the fall 2023 semester.
“Our application opened May 15 and goes through July 28 for the fall semester, and then in November and December, applications open for being dispersed in January,” explained Dr. Maigan Wipfli, director of the June Anderson Center.
Wipfli said parent applicants must have a current FAFSA completed and be Pell-eligible. If they’re approved, parents can receive $1,000 in tuition per child enrolled in a state-licensed preschool or day care and $250 per child for before/after-school care.
Statistics from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research note that 22% of U.S. undergraduates are parents, and a disproportionate number of those college students are in marginalized groups. Those undergraduates also shoulder more expenses than traditional students, such as cost of living and exorbitant child care costs that often hinder degree completion.
Although the grants from the JAC cover about a quarter of their child care costs, Allen said the extra help for her family’s budget is welcomed.
For the 2022-23 academic year, Allen received a total of $4,250 to use for all four children. Two attended a Montessori preschool; the other two participated in the Murfreesboro City Schools’ Extended School Program.
“They definitely helped make it more possible for me to return to school,” said Allen, who is pursuing an education specialist degree in school psychology through the Department of Psychology in MTSU’s College of Behavioral and Health Sciences. “I wouldn’t have been able to do that without the JAC financial support and scholarship.”
In addition to the child care fund, the June Anderson Center provided supplies through its back-to-school giveaway, offered activities the family could do at home, and connected them with the university’s “Little Raiders” Christmas gift-giving program.
“It’s been helpful knowing that I had that community to reach out to,” Allen said. “It was almost like they are saying, ‘We believe in you, we support you and we want to help you get a degree and a career.’ Without that support, you feel alone.”
Although younger students won’t return to their schools for two more months, the JAC is currently accepting donations for the family school-supply giveaway.
Collection boxes for those donations are located inside the Anderson Center, which is headquartered in Room 330 of MTSU’s Student Union, and at the Career Development Center in Room 328 of the Keathley University Center; the MT One Stop on the second floor of the Student Services and Admissions Center; the James E. Walker Library; the College of Education Building’s third floor near the elevators; and on the first floor of the Academic Classroom Building.
A list of needed supplies can be found on the Anderson Center’s website under the “Nontraditional Students” left-side pull-down menu at the Parenting Resources tab. Monetary donations can also be made to help with programs and services at the JAC.
To learn more, email Wipfli at Maigan.Wipfli@mtsu.edu or Amanda Gjertson at Amanda.Gjertson@mtsu.edu.
— Nancy DeGennaro (Nancy.DeGennaro@mtsu.edu)
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