The 20 Best Colleges for Parents Returning to School

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By BCR Staff

Earning a degree can feel like a daunting prospect when trying to raise a family at the same time. Non-traditional students such as single or married parents with small children may benefit from some of the resources offered by these colleges. Below are the best colleges for parents returning to school; these schools have programs specifically designed to help parents achieve their academic goals.

In determining the order of this ranking, we awarded points based on:

  • Range of available services available to parents (1-4 points)
  • Range of academic offerings (1-3 points)
  • Flexibility in course load (1-3 points)
  • Accolades and rankings from other respected education publications
  • An additional point was awarded for noteworthy added benefits that made it a best college for parents returning to school.

As affordability also plays a factor for parents returning to college, the school with the lower tuition is ranked higher in the event of a tie in points.

Tuition and enrollment data was sourced from College Navigator.

The following ranked list represents the 20 best colleges for parents returning to school.

#20 – University of New Mexico

Gallup, New Mexico


Points: 8
Total Enrollment: 2,478
Tuition (Out-of-State): $4,708

The University of New Mexico is a highly affordable college that values community, diversity, and individualized academic growth. UNM-Gallup has been a successful choice for parents returning to college due in large part to their Early Childhood and Family Center (ECFC); this center aims to establish a close-knit caretaker community for children of UNM students. ECFC provides stimulating learning activities and playful interaction, all within a kid-friendly environment where childhood development students can gain an experiential education.

#19 – St. Catherine University

St. Paul, Minnesota


St. Catherine University

Points: 9
Total Enrollment: 4,786
Tuition (Out-of-State): $36,820

Founded in 1905, St. Catherine University is a small, student-centered college with multiple resources to help parents returning to school. Called the Access and Success program, St. Catherine has established valuable offerings in childcare, food, finances, housing, transportation, and a dedicated hotline for information on health and human services; this program has proven to make higher education more possible for parents.

#18 – College of Saint Mary

Omaha, Nebraska


College of Saint Mary

Points: 9
Total Enrollment: 1,043
Tuition (Out-of-State): $29,954

Based in the Midwest, College of Saint Mary is a Catholic-based school that is considered among the more progressive of its kind. One of Saint Mary’s most respected programs is its Mothers Living & Learning initiative, where every effort is made to help single mothers achieve academic success while raising their children; participants in this program enjoy benefits that include special parenthood workshops, advisor support, a student-parent support group, and a dedicated housing facility to accommodate the domestic needs of single mothers.

#17 – Mills College

Oakland, California


Points: 9
Total Enrollment: 1,345
Tuition (Out-of-State): $28,765

Mills College of Oakland, California is rich with opportunity for non-traditional students heading back to school. Mills has recently spearheaded a 37% tuition reduction initiative, making a higher degree even more accessible to all accepted applicants. Parents and families are easily accommodated at Mills, with designated housing for students who must live and go to school while raising children. Mills has been listed second in U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 “Best Value Schools West,” in large part due to its stellar academic offerings and progressive education practices.

#16 – Endicott College

Beverly, MA


Points: 10
Total Enrollment: 4,845
Tuition (Out-of-State): $31,312

Just twenty miles north of Boston, Endicott University is located on a scenic, oceanfront campus. This institution has impressive statistics that include an 86% undergraduate retention rate, 13:1 student-to-faculty ration, and numerous accolades from most of the top published college guides. Parents returning to school can take part in Endicott’s innovative Keys to Degrees program, where there is designated housing, laundry facilities, an added meal plan for children in the home, case management, and childcare assistance.

#15 – Misericordia University

Dallas, PA


Points: 10
Total Enrollment: 2,808
Tuition (Out-of-State): $30,740

Misericordia University is a small Catholic college in Pennsylvania that is open to interested students of all faiths. MU is known to have personalized approach to education, maintaining small class sizes and a student-to-faculty ratio of 12 to 1. Misericordia has proven to be a positive choice of college for parents returning to returning to school. MU’s The Women with Children program was created in particular for economically disadvantaged single mothers who seek a higher degree and solid career options; this program provides child care assistance, financial aid advisement, free housing, and other invaluable resources.

#14 – Ferris State University

Big Rapids, Michigan


Points: 10
Total Enrollment: 14,187
Tuition (Out-of-State): $18,048

Ferris State University, another Michigan college in our rankings, is a challenging academic institution with a hands-on approach to education. FSU boasts a 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio and impressive campus facilities Among those enrolled at Ferris State are non-traditional students returning to school, many of whom are also raising children. Ferris State University has many offerings for single parents and families, all of which established to make it as seamless as possible for a parent to earn their desired degree; among these offerings include the Early Learning Center and an after-school program for added course schedule flexibility.

#13 – Judson University

Elgin, Illinois


Judson University

Points: 11
Total Enrollment: 1,298
Tuition (Out-of-State): $28,730

Judson University is a small Christian college with available academics primarily in liberal arts and sciences. JU has a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1 and has been named among the nation’s best Christian colleges by religious-based education publications. Non-traditional students looking to further their education while raising a family would benefit from Judson’s new collaboration with the nearby Rockford YMCA; this partnership has many resources for parents including affordable childcare, classrooms for evening courses, fitness facilities, and more. Judson’s partnership with the YMCA is in line with the college’s family oriented mission.

#12 – University of South Florida

Tampa, Florida


Points: 11
Total Enrollment: 42,861
Tuition (Out-of-State): $17,324

University of South Florida is a popular, reputable college with over 32,000 students in undergraduate programs alone. For the non-traditional student-parent, USF’s Preschool for Creative Learning (PCL) is a truly innovative means to both provide childcare for student-parents and a means for childhood development degree candidates to have a hands-on learning experience outside the classroom. At the PCL, children are given a well-rounded educational experience appropriate to their age and development level. Student-parents are continuously updated on their child’s day-to-day ongoings, ensuring them they can have peace of mind while taking their courses.

#11 – Berea College

Berea, Kentucky


Points: 11
Total Enrollment: 1,665
Tuition (Out-of-State): Berea is a no-tuition college

Berea College of Kentucky is a no-tuition school that selects a small pool of applicants for its non-traditional academic programs. A leading private liberal arts school, Berea is an excellent choice for goal-oriented adult students seeking a unique degree path. Berea College has a long list of services for parents entering school, some of which including a designated housing complex (Ecovillage), social services advisement, campus child care facilities, and more.

#10 – Utah State University

Logan, Utah


Points: 12
Total Enrollment: 28,118
Tuition (Out-of-State): $20,492

Spread over 400 acres in the city of Logan, Utah State University is a dynamic hub of campus activity and over 300 options for undergraduate and degrees combined. Parents returning to college while raising children can select from apartments ranging from one to three bedrooms. Additionally, this college provides three different caretaker options that include a daycare center, nannies, or a family care program that has children go to the home of a vetted, certified care provider. Utah State has consistently earned high rankings from Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, among many others.

#9 – Champlain College

Burlington, Vermont


Points: 12
Total Enrollment: 34,240
Tuition (Out-of-State): $13,710

Champlain College, located in the vibrant city of Burlington, is a small college that has been named among the nation’s best and most innovative schools. Champlain has over 80 available areas of study and an average class size of just sixteen. For single parents returning to college, there is a Single Parents Program that has a multitude of benefits; some of these benefits include free career advising, job placement, financial assistance with tuition, moral support, and much more. Graduates of Champlain College boast a 95% employment rate, in part due to its non-traditional approach to education and fostering student growth.

#8 – University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Minneapolis, Minnesota


Points: 13
Total Enrollment: 51,579
Tuition (Out-of-State): $23,806

Regarded as one of the best public research centers in the country, University of Minnesota Twin Cities is the flagship location for the UM system. UM has an award-winning faculty and diverse student body from around the world. This college is a solid selection for non-traditional students seeking care for their children; this college’s Child Development Center is an innovative program that combines childcare and education with academic research opportunities in child development. The Child Development Center has excellent facilities and is available to children from birth to eight years old.

#7 – University of Memphis

Memphis, Tennessee


Points: 13
Total Enrollment: 21,301
Tuition (Out-of-State): $20,837

University of Memphis in Tennessee is an expansive academic opportunity with thirteen separate colleges for specialized degree choices. For those non-traditional students returning to school and raising children at the same time, UM makes this a seamless transition with their Child Development Center (CDC); this facility provides care for children between 30 months and twelve years, all staffed with qualified, seasoned caregivers. The CDC designs personalized learning experiences for its admitted children, staying true to the philosophy that each child has unique needs, abilities, and interests.

#6 – Minnesota State University

Mankato, MN


Points: 13
Total Enrollment: 15,165
Tuition (Out-of-State): $15,602

Founded in 1868, Minnesota State University of Mankato has evolved from a small teaching school to a full-fledged institution with over 200 degree programs. MNSU is an affordable college that offers numerous scholarships and grants to qualified applicants. Non-traditional students returning to school, including single mothers, will find a home in Minnesota State’s programming; the Mary Jane Scholarship for Re-Entry Women was established to offer financial assistance to women looking to achieve academic success with less burden on their family budget. The Women’s Center of MNSU additionally serves to provide peer support and empowerment for all women who choose to get involved.

#5 – University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, Michigan


Points: 14
Total Enrollment:
Tuition (Out-of-State): $45,410

The University of Michigan is a prestigious midwestern institution with 19 specialized schools in which to earn your degree; from medicine to engineering to the performing arts, UM offers multiple incentives for non-traditional students and parents returning to college. The Kids Kare offering at UM is a reliable contingency plan when a student’s child gets ill and need a last-minute caretaker. Additionally, the Students with Children portal provides a wealth of information and assistance with regard to health insurance, social support, housing, and other offerings.

#4 – University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Amherst, Massachusetts


Points: 14
Total Enrollment: 34,240
Tuition (Out-of-State): $13,710

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst is a respected, progressive college that has accolades and high rankings from numerous education publications. One of UMASS Amherst’s unique initiatives is the University Without Walls (UWW) program, which lends a great deal of degree flexibility to those who need it most; this program is especially fitting to non-traditional students who need to balance family or other commitments while earning a higher education. Parents returning to school have greatly benefited from UMASS Amherst’s UWW, as it provides them the opportunity to make raising children a priority while taking as many courses as is comfortable.

#3 – Brigham Young University

Provo, Utah


Points: 15
Total Enrollment: 34,240
Tuition (Out-of-State): $13,710

Brigham Young University of Utah is a large, well-established faith-based college sponsored by the Church of Latter Day Saints. Brigham has 178 undergraduate, 68 master’s, and 26 doctoral programs for a wide span of long-term career choices. For prospective or current single parents, BYU has Single Parent & Nontraditional Student scholarships that function to supplement tuition and living costs for those raising a family while earning a degree. Additionally, Brigham Young has on-site childcare assistance and housing specifically designated for single-parent families.

#2 – Baldwin Wallace University

Berea, Ohio


Points: 16
Total Enrollment: 3,933
Tuition (Out-of-State): $30,776

Based in Ohio, Baldwin Wallace University is an excellent choice for single parents seeking support and resources to make higher education possible; Baldwin Wallace’s SPROUT program (Single Parents Reaching Out for Unlimited Tomorrows) works closely with single parents returning to college and seeking options for non-traditional students such a themselves. SPROUT has tuition subsidies, apartments specifically for the needs of single parents, work-study opportunities, and more. Baldwin Wallace University also provides career assistance with important tools such as resume-writing, internship placements, along with any other needs specific to the single parent student.

#1 – Texas A&M University

Commerce, Texas


Points: 16
Total Enrollment: 13,514
Tuition (Out-of-State): $19,990

Texas A&M University is nationally renowned higher education that welcomes students from all over the globe. A large institution, this school has five specialized degree areas that will foster long-term career prospects. Texas A&M welcomes non-traditional students, in particular, single parents going back to school for an advanced degree; the Children’s Learning Center is a celebrated program that allows student parents to offer their children the best possible care. This center is full of kid-friendly learning activities that include story time, pretend play, music, art, and other learning activities that are excellent for child development.

The preceding ranking represents the 20 best colleges for parents returning to school.

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