In 2008 and 2009, more than 80% of African-American babies were born to single mothers. During that same period, nearly 2/3 of Latino babies were delivered by mothers who don't have a partner with them. Reliable studies indicate that the vast preponderance of these women remained single by choice, feeling they could not rely on the babies' fathers to provide for them financially or emotionally.
Single mothers especially cited fathers' educational disadvantage as their principal source of concern: only 14% of ethnic students finish high school and advance to higher education, and nearly half of Latino and African-American males leave high school without diplomas. Such mothers who are single recognize higher education as the most efficient and effective vehicle for upward social mobility, and they gravitate to online colleges and universities for degrees and pre-professional training, because they can complete their courses while they work full-time and care for their children.
For single mothers, a college degree remains the most essential variable in earnings potential. In 2008, the median income for such mothers with high school diplomas hovered at approximately $32,500(US) while single mothers with college degrees made, on average, $51, 800. In real world terms, a college degree makes the difference between living in poverty and moving comfortably into the middle class.
Now, under provisions of the 2009 Economic Recovery Act, mothers who are single, qualify for federally supported scholarships and extremely low-interest federally guaranteed loan programs. Especially in majors and technical areas where women remain under-represented, a host of both need-based and merit-based scholarships are available. Most strikingly, several billion dollars of financial aid remain unclaimed every year. For ambitious single mothers, scholarships and grants make college not just affordable but often less expensive than staying home. Some scholarships even include cost-of-living allowances.
Single mothers making less than $45,000(US) qualify for Pell Grants, which typically cover approximately 30% of higher education costs; they also qualify for guaranteed Federal Perkins loans. Before they accept loans, however, single mothers should look into their employers' tuition reimbursement programs, and they should pay special attention to company-sponsored "on-site" degree programs in fields relevant to the companies' core businesses. Several of the nation's largest retailers offer tuition reimbursement, and all of the nation's largest aerospace companies offer degrees in engineering, computer science, and business management through prestigious online universities.