When it comes to raising kids while pursuing education, University of Saskatchewan (USask) PhD student Kate Loseth (BA’18, MPP’22) is aware of the challenges single parents face.
Loseth created the Single Parents for Social Change Bursary designed to support single parents who are students attending USask.
Currently, a PhD student in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology in the USask College of Medicine, Loseth created the bursary because of her own personal experience with pursuing post-secondary education.
“I always knew that I personally wanted to go to university, but there were obviously factors affecting that, one of the big ones was the financial barrier of it all,” Loseth said. As a teenager, Loseth had her son when she was in Grade 12.
She earned a certificate in cosmetology to become a hairdresser to support herself and start her undergraduate degree in the USask College of Arts and Science. In the beginning, Loseth was taking one or two classes at a time while working.
“After a little while, I realized that if I’m going to stay on this track, this is going to be like a 20-year-degree,” she said. “You can’t take two classes a year and finish anytime soon.”
While in university, Loseth met her husband and the pair got married. She decided to increase the number of courses she was taking, to finish her degree sooner. This meant that Loseth needed to take out student loans, while working full-time.
“It was frustrating being a low-income student on student loans, working full-time and still struggling financially,” she said. “Because I had to work full-time to support my family, which obviously affected my grades. I was passing, I was doing OK, but they were not amazing.”
One night during her undergraduate degree, after she and her husband had put the kids to bed, Loseth went back to USask for a late-night finals study session at the library.
“I was just stressing out,” she said. “’OK, I need gas, I need groceries.’ I opened my email and there is this person letting me know that I’ve received a bursary for $250 ... For some people, that’s such a low amount, but in that moment, that was what I needed to keep going.”
Once she graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Indigenous Studies in 2018, she decided to pursue her master's degree in public policy. Due to low grades, and the longer than average time it took her to complete her undergraduate degree, Loseth did not qualify for scholarships or additional student loans. She continued to work full-time while earning her master’s degree.
Loseth’s master’s thesis hit close to home — it focused on single parents’ at USask and their experiences in university from a financial standpoint. Many student parents in Loseth’s study were also employed in the service and hospitality industries, which were greatly impacted during the pandemic.
Overall, parents expressed that the quality of their children’s lives were decreasing. While student loans may have covered groceries and other necessities, there often was not much leftover for extracurricular activities.
Read more at College of Arts & Science