WASHINGTON—About 5 million Americans currently enrolled in a postsecondary school are also providing care to a family member or friend, according to Caregiving in the U.S. 2020. New research from AARP delves into the experiences of student caregivers and how they are affected by this dual role. Caregiving has had negative consequences for many students, with seven in 10 reporting that caring for a loved one impacted their academic success and six in 10 saying it has affected their ability to pay for school.
Among the challenges they reported, half of student caregivers experienced emotional stress or distraction due to their role, and about one in three reported that they submitted an assignment late (35%) or missed a class (34%). More than half of those surveyed (57%) had told someone at school they were a caregiver, most commonly a fellow student (41%) or an instructor (36%). While more than half of respondents wanted their school to offer flexible accommodations or resources for caregivers, only 5% reported that their school had such a policy in place.
“Caregivers are an essential part of our long-term care system in the U.S., and we need to support them as they balance this role with other responsibilities. Colleges and universities should be aware that many students are juggling learning, caring and working at the same time,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer. “By creating supportive caregiving policies, schools can better serve these students and help them succeed.”
AARP’s research details many characteristics of student caregivers, including:
- Most student caregivers work at least part time (86%)
- 57% are full time students, while 43% attend school part time
- About half (52%) take most or all of their classes online, even prior to the pandemic
- 56% were already providing care at the time they enrolled in school
- Three-quarters of those already providing care said it impacted their choice of a school to some or a great extent
- Most are caring for a parent or grandparent (54%), and the majority provide all or most of the care for their loved one (46% and 28%, respectively)
The survey was conducted online via AYTM Panel from June 24 to 26, 2020, among a sample of 400 US adults who are both students and family caregivers. Click here to view the full report.
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.