Non-traditional student population increases

The number of non-traditional students is on the rise, according to Kris Hale, child care coordinator for the U.

Over the past five years, the number of students older than 25 has ballooned by 35 percent, according to April Heiselt, non-traditional student director for the Associated Students of the University of Utah.

“[Students with families] are an important part of the U. It’s important that we notice them and their needs are being met,” Heiselt said. Child care is one large concern for these students.

“Child care is the third-highest expense, after a car and house payment-sometimes the second highest,” Hale said.

The yearly cost of care is $5,000 to $12,000 per child.

While the U has eight child-care centers, the campus need for child care greatly exceeds the care that those eight centers provides. A 1994 U study estimated a daily need for the care of 1,500 to 2,000 children, according to Hale.

The U now has the capacity to care for 600.

The child care coordinating office exists to help parents locate child care off campus. They provide services for student parents-including finals week child care.

Most student parents need child care part time.Five of the eight child-care centers on campus only accept children full time. The ASUU child-care program was specifically designed for student parents. This center gives priority to students and is partially funded by a grant from CCAMPIS. ASUU has a waiting list of 50 families and is currently attempting to increase funds to accommodate them, Heiselt said.

“The effects on student parents who cannot access care for their children can be seen in reduced academic performance, stress-related illnesses, marital difficulties, debt and ultimately dropping out of school. For low-income student parents to become financially self-sufficient, productive members of the community, they must have access to not only higher education, but also affordable and convenient child care,” Hale said.

The campus community has begun to recognize the needs of student families.

A number of events have been organized geared toward student families. ASUU’s spouse card allows spouses of U students access to many of the resources on campus at the same price as students.

ASUU will also hold a married and family conference at the end of January. Various workshops to aid student families will be available.

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