Pregnant in College: Everything You Need to Know

Pregnant in college

While you might picture the traditional college student fresh out of high school with little responsibility, the truth is that college students come from diverse backgrounds, each with unique experiences and life stories. As a matter of fact, 22% of all students in undergraduate programs are parents, and there are 1.7 million single mothers enrolled in a program at any given time.

You can juggle pregnancy and parenting and finish your education with the right resources and support. You have options as a pregnant student, and there are rights for pregnant women in the education system, financial aid opportunities for those expecting or who have a child, and tips for pregnant college students.

Know Your Options

Knowing your options is the first step in making the most informed decision. When facing an unexpected pregnancy, you have three options: adoption, abortion, or parenting.

Adoption

Many women who are not ready to parent and who do not feel comfortable with abortion elect to have their child raised by another family. You can learn more about what to expect during the adoption process by meeting with an adoption agency. You might be surprised to learn how much autonomy and input you have, even as it relates to the child’s family and their relationship with you going forward.

Abortion

Some women consider abortion when facing an unplanned pregnancy while they are still in school. If you are considering to terminate your pregnancy, a pregnancy clinic such as Willow Womens Center will provide education on the different types of procedures and options available to empower you to make the most well-informed decision.

Parenting

You might decide to parent, and if you do, Willow Womens Centercan help connect you with the services you need to be successful, such as free diapers and wipes, parenting classes, referrals for medical care, support groups, and more.

Rights of Pregnant Women

Pregnant students are protected by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, commonly referred to as Title IX. Under Title IX:

  • women cannot be discriminated against because of pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion, childbirth, or the recovery associated with these
  • students have a right to take time away from school for pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion, childbirth, and/or recovery for as long as is medically necessary according to their doctor
  • schools must provide pregnant students with at least the same accommodations or special services they provide to other students with temporary restrictions
  • schools must provide you with a formal complaint process that you can follow if you feel your Title IX rights have been violated

This means is that if you must be excused from school for your doctor’s appointments, hospital stay, and any other time your doctor deems necessary, such as a medicallyrequired bed rest during a high-risk pregnancy. Additionally, if your university has offered distance learning options for students who have COVID-19 or who are recovering from a sports injury, then they must also offer distance learning options for pregnant women on physician-ordered bed rest.

Women who are employed have additional protections at work that vary by state. You can learn more about those protections in your state here.

Financial Aid Opportunities

Having a child changes the way your financial aid is calculated. While your parents’ income may have been taken into consideration before, having and claiming a child (who you will provide more than half the support for) will likely qualify you as an independent student. That means that your financial aid award will no longer take your parents’ income into consideration.

Additionally, you can typically include an unborn child when calculating your household size as long as he or she will be born within the academic year. Claiming a larger household size may give you access to more funding.

There are some exceptions; schedule an appointment with your financial aid advisor to learn more.

Additionally, there are other programs that may be beneficial to expectant students:

  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program provides a monthly stipend for nutritional foods like fruits, vegetables, formula, eggs, and cheese, along with education and screening services.
  • Medicaid provides many people – especially pregnant women and children – with access to free or low-cost healthcare.
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a monthly financial aid program bridging the gap for families who have no resources or source of income. The funds may be used to buy food, utilities, clothing, housing, or other necessities.
  • The Maternity Group Homes for Pregnant and Parenting Youth (MGH) Program, the Housing Choice Voucher Program, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) can assist low-income families with housing or housing expenses.

Additionally, many organizations assist new parents by connecting them with the basic items they need such as free car seats and diapers. Willow Womens Center offers free diapers once a week to families who need them; you can learn more here.

Tips for Pregnant College Students

Facing pregnancy during your undergraduate program? These tips can help you continue on your path to success while caring for your own health and wellness:

  • Schedule an appointment with a pregnancy options clinic such as Willow Womens Center early. Early information, resources, and referral can provide you with more options and help you make the best decision.
  • Connect with your advisor at school early to discuss how your school supports pregnant students and parents and what programs are available to promote success.
  • If you are worried about the cost of pregnancy, childbirth, or raising a child, schedule an appointment with your local Medicaid office. They can explore the programs you might be eligible for and walk you through the application process.
  • Share the news with somebody you trust so you do not have to work through these feelings and make these decisions alone. Having a support person can help you stay objective as you explore options and consider your next steps.

To get started with Willow Womens Center, request an appointment online or by calling 608-312-2025 today. Our caring team offers free pregnancy testing, ultrasound, STD testing, education on pregnancy options, parenting classes, diapers, and more.