A graduate degree can help you advance in your career, but it's a more difficult goal to achieve when you have a child. If you're going to make the commitment, it's smart to make use of all the resources you can. The types of resources available to moms in graduate school vary widely from school to school, so research the school's offerings to choose the right fit for you.
Paying for Graduate School
Graduate schools can be prohibitively expensive. Some schools will allow you to get a fellowship or a teaching assistant position while you study to help defray some of the costs. You may also qualify for help from the government, in the form of Perkins or Stafford loans. Scholarships may be ideal because you don't have to pay them back, but there is stiff competition for them. Your best bet is probably to see if the school itself offers scholarships, since that means you will only be competing with other students at your school for scholarship money.
Some colleges offer on-site child care centers for the children of graduate students. These centers aren't usually free, but may be affordable and will certainly be convenient. If you are a single parent or have a working spouse, you may also qualify for the Child and Dependent Care Credit, which reimburses some of your expenses when you file Federal taxes. You may also qualify for subsidized day care for low income families, depending on your salary. Some colleges also offer stipends for parents in the graduate programs to pay for child care expenses.
If you're in school, you may not have employer-sponsored health insurance to cover your children, unless you have a working spouse with a company that offers this. One option may be to go through the university's health care program; most offer the option of adding family members to a student's plan for an additional cost. States also offer health care for children who are otherwise uninsured on a sliding-scale basis and this can be an affordable choice.
If possible, look for a graduate program that offers family housing. Although the cost may be in line with other types of apartments in the local market, you'll have the advantage of being close to your school, often on a line of public transportation that will take you right there. You may also find other parents in your graduate school living in the same apartment building, which can be great for emotional support.
Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.