Like many students I am leaving school with a student loan, and looking at that 5 figure amount I owe is almost unbearable. Most of my student loan went to childcare fees, almost $20,000 to be more specific. Many parents look at the realities of obtaining a post-secondary education and shy away from pursuit because of this reality. It’s not that I didn’t try to get assistance to make sure that this didn’t happen, but the reality is the assistance doesn’t exist. Getting on Hamilton’s childcare subsidy list was easy, but the weeks of waiting turned into months and the months turned into almost two years. On Thursday, June 13 I graduated from my 2nd diploma program, and on Tuesday, June 18th I was called into the childcare subsidy office on James street and King William and was told I got my subsidy. I know for sure I will have my subsidy for the next year, a reprieve from the close to $1000 I’ve been paying each month, but the reality of the situation is that had I waited to receive my subsidy to finish my education, I would be reapplying to school this week, instead of being a Mohawk graduate for the 2nd time. I would be two and half years behind. I have told so many people this story of the struggle of my small family, it’s not a unique story, it happens to many people in our community, and it’s hard to see the struggle because we don’t wear our children on our sleeves when we apply for school, or when we attend class.
It’s easy to get discouraged when reading a story like this, and I find myself repeating myself. But this has to be said, it’s not an easy path to be a parent and a student, and the support for us is lacking. But if there is someone reading this who is discouraged by everything that comes with being both a parent and student, know that the two roles can work, it’s hard, but nothing worth anything was ever easy. There are people at Mohawk College who will support you and encourage you, and you’re biggest encouragement are your kids, I know without my son I never would have made it as far as I did, I owe my perseverance and determination to him.
This part is for the people who make the rules, who sign the checks and create the programs. There are not enough supports in place for students who have non-school aged children. I can’t stop advocating for people who find themselves in the same situation I found myself in. Immediate support is not available for parents who require childcare, the waiting list make it impossible to plan on when they can attend school, and if they decide the only option for them is to wait until receiving subsidy, they have to wait at the very least 1-2 years, delaying their education, and delaying their ability to provide for their family, it’s difficult enough to raise a family on a living wage, without post-secondary education it’s almost impossible. The supports that we need can be created; we just need to be creative. Mohawk College is the #1 college in GTHA but like many post-secondary institution is failing the student that need help most.
– Laura Herbert
Social Service Worker ‘12
Follow Laura @Laura_dorothie