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Student Parent Support Initiative


The Minnesota Student Parent Support Initiative (SPSI) will provide much-needed support to entities and institutions to assist college-age pregnant and current parenting students in successfully earning a postsecondary credential.

As a new competitive grant program, to be administered in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Health, postsecondary institutions, professional organizations, and community-based organizations may apply for funds to develop and implement services and programs that would support the unique needs of parenting students across the state.

Grants will be used to offer services to support the academic goals, health, and well-being of student parents. Secured in the 2023 Legislative Session, $3 million was allocated over the next biennium to fund SPSI.

Eligible services and costs will include:

  • Program development costs
  • Costs related to the start-up of on-campus child care
  • Evaluation and data collection
  • Direct assistance to student parents including:
    • Scholarships;
    • Basic needs support; and
    • Expenses related to child care

Postsecondary institutions may act as the fiscal agents in partnership with a local nongovernmental agency, child care center, or other organization that serves student parents.

Program goals

SPSI aims to bridge the opportunity gap by increasing access to crucial resources and services, ensuring that children have a healthy start and families have access to affordable and quality child care and early education; access to mental health supports; and stable housing. By helping stabilize their needs in college, this initiative sets the foundation for overall future success.

By supporting parenting students, Minnesota invests in greater economic stability through:

  • Student parents’ future participation in the workforce
  • Increased income taxes
  • Savings in public assistance programs

Student parents face multiple barriers to college enrollment, persistence, and completion. These barriers include, but are not limited to, constraints with time and money, lack of child care resources and academic support, diminished motivation or may feel excluded from traditional campus support services.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, re-enrollment rates of students with children dropped dramatically. Additionally, for students who reported having dependents on their FAFSA, applications are down 13 percent over previous years.

The best way to ensure a child is successful in college is to help their parent succeed. Parental education is linked to upward mobility in their children through increased lifetime earnings, improved reading and mathematics skills, improved health, increased college enrollment, persistence, and completion, in addition to decreased incarceration, teenage pregnancy, and poverty rates. The SPSI will work with institutions to provide pregnant students and students of young children information and support regarding available and new resources to help them succeed.

Contact information

For more information, please contact Miriam Cullimore, Student Parent & Whole Family Coordinator at or 651-259-3974.

Related reports


The 1 in 5 podcast explores the multifaceted lives of the one in five (22%) of college students who are parents. The narrative documentary podcast offers a look at the lived expertise of student parents and what it is like to care for a child and pursue a postsecondary credential.

The podcast is part of the Ascend at the Aspen Institute's Postsecondary Success for Parents (PSP) initiative.