College Spends $10 Million to Offer Housing to Single Moms

Cortney O'Brien

5/28/2014 11:30:00 AM - Cortney O'Brien

The College of St. Mary gets it. Instead of telling a young woman with an unplanned pregnancy that having a baby would end her career goals, this institution is providing the means for her to both raise her children and earn a diploma.

It’s no wonder Nora McGill, a young single mother, chose to attend this Omaha school. The College of St. Mary is one of few in the country to offer a dorm for single moms and their children.

At College of St. Mary, the cost is the same as living in the college’s other dorm, and the mothers pay the same tuition rates. But their children eat free on their meal plan, and they have a built-in support system of babysitters and a network of college staffers who consider the moms’ success to be their jobs.

Is it any wonder McGill and her beautiful daughter moved in? As for Marie, she seems to have no trouble finding a way to have fun at the school:

As soon as they step off the elevator, Marie jumps into the scrum in the common room, where a few moms are sitting to watch Madonna Hall’s littlest residents play. They have a shared kitchenette, TV and study spaces like most dorms, but Madonna Hall also has foam floors, a little indoor jungle gym and tons of toys.

A few other universities are offering helpful options for young mothers. Wilson College in Chambersburg, PA, has its own "Women With Children" program, which provides on-campus housing for both. Mills College in Oakland, CA, gives undergraduates with children priority for spots in some university-owned apartments. One more I'd like to point out is St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn., where student parents enrolled in day or weekend degree programs can live in family housing.

This is what we need - more programs encouraging young women that they can both go through with their pregnancies and continue their education. My college spent millions of dollars renovating our communication arts building. I wonder how many young mothers could have benefited from that money were it used to provide them the opportunity to attend, instead of going toward new light fixtures or carpeting.

I’m glad at least one college has its financial priorities straight. Thank you, College of St. Mary, for creating an environment that lets young mothers both finish their homework and change diapers.