Addressing the Barriers Faced by Black Fathers Who Attend College

A new study from the Center for Law and Social Policy, a national, anti-poverty nonprofit organization advancing policy solutions to improve the lives of people with low incomes, finds that Black student fathers encounter unique challenges in obtaining a degree from an institution of higher education.

The failure of the postsecondary educational system to support students in balancing academic and familial obligations is one contributing factor to the continued decline in postsecondary enrollment among Black males in recent years. Black undergraduate students are more likely to be parents (30 percent) compared to White students (17 percent). In particular, Black student fathers comprise 19 percent of student parents and are less likely than their peers to have access to public benefits programs like childcare assistance.

Seventy-two percent of all Black student fathers attending public four-year institutions leave college without earning a degree or other credential, which is a rate higher than all undergraduate students (32 percent), student parents (52 percent), overall single student parents (54 percent), and overall Black student parents (58 percent).

Regardless of completion, 81 percent of Black student fathers rely on loans to pay tuition, placing them at increased risk of falling into the educational debt trap experienced by millions of Americans. Black student fathers on average owe $16,126 from their undergraduate loans.

Some 67 percent of Black student fathers attend institutions that do not have on-campus childcare options. The authors of the report conclude that “what is truly needed to address the challenges faced by Black student fathers are significant and sustainable investments in a comprehensive childcare system that is designed to meet the needs of children, parents, and families.”

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