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If you ask any ordinary, everyday single mom returning to college, she will explain to the penny and to the statistic exactly how she is disadvantaged, and the government’s data will support her.

Sociologists and political scientists, however, detail exactly how some single mothers returning to school are considerably more disadvantaged than others. Eight out of ten African-American babies are born to mothers “without benefit of wedlock,” as the government phrases it. Among those eight out of ten single-parent babies, only one will receive child support from his or her father. Most of those single mothers have not completed high school, so that their lifetime earnings potential averages less than 38% of the potential earnings among single mothers with college degrees. In real numbers, the percentages break down to less than $25,000 per year versus well over $65,000 per year-the difference between abject poverty and a comfortably middle class lifestyle. Statistics for Latino single mothers look equally grim.

Precisely because of these histories of extreme disadvantage, single mothers should complete their GED’s and return to college, finishing their degrees or earning professional certificates that advance their careers. The federal government, naturally, wants to support them as they complete that process.

Consistent with Bureau of Labour Statistics reports that highlight the growth industries for the next decade, Congress and the President have authorized scholarships to supplement regular financial aid for students preparing for careers in high-growth professions. Healthcare naturally heads the list, because the nation suffers an acute shortage of doctors and nurses. The government also handsomely will support students majoring in computer science, information technology, and engineering, because graduates from those majors will preserve the nation’s competitive advantage on the world market, and they will contribute substantially to the development of “green” energy.

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