Forty percent of households with young children in the home are now headed by breadwinner moms. These women are either the sole or primary income earners. This trend is growing, up from just 11 percent in 1960, so it stands to reason that when women do better for themselves, families all over improve as well. While there are many avenues available for women to improve their economic condition, post high school education offers significant opportunities for career advancement.
The biggest share of this group of breadwinner moms are single mothers. More than 63% of these ladies earn an average of $23,000 annually. Pursuing additional education beyond a high school diploma will make a significant difference in a mother’s ability to provide for her family.
A 2011 study found that student with college degree earn 84 percent more than those with only high school diplomas. The average salary for a bachelor’s degree holder is $51,000. Add to that an advance degree like and MBA or law school, that figure jumps to $100,000.
The economic benefits of pursuing your education beyond high school are pretty clear. However, the mechanics of making that plan happen can be easier said than done – especially if you have a family to raise. No one said it would be easy, but there are steps women can take to ease the headache of going back to school and increase the odds of successfully completing an advance degree program.
Figure out how to fund your degree
The economic outcomes may be tempting, but paying for college now is no small feat. Working women should first determine if their employers offer any type of tuition assistance program. There may be an employment requirement upon completing your degree. However, the benefit of receiving tuition assistance may be well worth the extended commitment.
Community college and/or public commuter colleges are also a great way to pursue a degree while keeping costs down. Often these schools offer evening programs that are easy to coordinate with a full-time job. State grants can further cover the costs of tuition, books, or supplies. A conversation with the school’s financial aid counselor would be well worth your time.
Student loans are available as a last resort. While loans make funding school an easier option on the front end, make sure you keep them low and used for essential school fees only. Women want to avoid overburdening themselves with excess debt. Use student loans sparingly and as a last resort if no other funding options are available.
Establish your support system
Attending classes and completing assignments will take up a significant amount of time. Lean on relatives or friends to help you with childcare responsibilities during this time. When those closest to you recognize that you’re trying to improve your earning potential, they may be more likely to lend a hand.
Develop a schedule that works
Juggling school, home, and family can be tough without the proper limits. Enlist the help of older children to maintain a routine at home. Work out a reasonable schedule with other responsible guardians to keep everyone on task. If your course load is too hectic, consider taking less classes per semester. While your program may take longer, you’ll be less stressed in the near term and more likely to keep up with the rigors of the academic requirement.
*** This article was written by Vera Marie Reed