An aerial view of Cal State San Marcos. Photo via CSUSM Housing Facebook

A grant of more than $3 million from the U.S. Department of Education will go toward supporting Cal State San Marcos students who have young children.

The four-year grant – awarded through the Child Care Access Means Parents in School program – will go to student parents in need of childcare assistance while they work toward graduation.

The funds will be used to create the CSUSM Child Care Access Program in partnership with the Center for Children and Families on campus, officials said Thursday.

Once up and running, the program is expected to support about 50 student parents of children from infants to pre-K ages with full-time subsidized care.

“The program will also help student parents build a supportive network that will connect them to campus programs, resources and other developmental opportunities,” said Viridiana Diaz, CSUSM’s vice president of student affairs.

The program is directly in response to the high and rising costs of child care in the county. According to the San Diego County Child Care and Development Planning Council, such care costs $1,300 to $1,600 a month for children under 5 in the county.

A family of four must make more than $118,000 annually to be self-sufficient, according to estimates, but family income data from last fall shows that 52% of CSUSM undergraduates have family incomes below $60,000 per year.

The grant will fund subsidies for child care for CSUSM students who are enrolled in six or more academic credits during a semester. The subsidies will prioritize those who are low income using a sliding scale. Student parents whose expected family contribution level would make them eligible for federal Pell grants will receive the most assistance.

Some of the grant funding will be used to hire a program coordinator or director to develop a plan to reach out to student parents across campus. This individual also will partner with on-campus and other resources to “help student parents identify other community-based support programs that might be available to them,” officials said.

As part of the required grant reporting, data will be collected from program participants to show how the child-care support has affected their academic success and engagement on campus.

City News Service