College move-in week is an exciting time in parents' and students' lives — but it doesn't come cheap.
We've all heard about the rising cost of college tuition, and anyone who's purchased a college textbook knows how financially daunting higher education can be.
But there are other costs that often get lost in the discussion — things that many Americans may take for granted, but are a significant challenge for others. Dorm living requires some basics that some students struggle to afford. Considering the fact that the average family spends close to $1000 on college back-to-school items, kids who are coming from disadvantaged communities or are the first in their families to go to college may not be prepared for the cost of moving in to their dorm rooms.
Some moms recognized that students who couldn't afford dorm essentials needed some help — so they took action.
Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa Heffernan are the moms behind the website Grown and Flown — an online community for parents with kids ages 15 to 25. When one of their readers suggested raising funds for college students who could use some assistance with getting settled at school, the moms created an initiative now known as Move In Moms.
Harrington, an alumna of University of Texas at Austin, enlisted the help of businesses and other parents — in partnership with her alma mater — to raise funds for over 200 students in the UT Austin Foundation Scholars Program to get dorm supplies last year.
Each student received a dorm bundle, which included a laundry hamper, sheets, a pillow, a shower caddy, a surge protector, towels, a mattress pad, and a bed bug encasement. Harrington said that it was exciting to support students by offering them items "to feather their nest a little bit."
Target donated $10,000 for Move In Moms to purchase supplies for 250 hard-working college students.
The University of Texas has been on a mission to increase graduation rates, especially for students at risk of dropping out. Anything that eases the financial burden of these students makes a difference. Move In Moms is making move-in week less stressful for 250 students, many of whom are first generation college students working multiple jobs to pay for their education.
With a big corporate partner like Target in their court, hopefully Move In Moms will achieve their goal to spread to other universities. Surely plenty of parents facing their own empty nests would be happy to help other young people get a solid start in their college career.
Unless or until college in the U.S. becomes more affordable, such programs are a necessity for many students.
As college costs rise higher education falls out of reach for many people. Even for those who receive scholarships or financial aid, additional expenses are sometimes unaffordable. Until we make some major changes on a broad level to make college less costly, communities helping communities will have to be the way we solve individual financial hardships.
If there's anyone we can count on to make sure kids are taken care of, it's moms. Keep up the awesome work, Move In Moms.