‘Rent a Mom’ Programs Provide Help for College Students Across the U.S. — and Cost Up to $10K a Year

Read the full article as published in People Magazine by Abigail Adams on September 28, 2023

Students at colleges across the United States can now “rent a mom” to give them guidance and assistance as they navigate their new lives.

These businesses pride themselves on providing various services to college students to help them adjust to life away from home, especially if they are living in a new country or state.
In Boston, Concierge Services for Students offers round-the-clock service to its customers — which costs $10,000 per academic year, according to The Wall Street Journal. CSS Boston accepts no more than 30 clients per year, and about 75% of their clientele are college students.

Founded in 1990, CSS Boston offers dozens of services to students, including personal help such as laundry, grocery shopping, banking; school assistance, from campus acclimation to tutoring to course selection; as well as housing issues such as apartment hunting and moving assistance. (It also offers property management and patient services, according to the company’s website.)

Joan Alfond and Tamara Kumin, who co-founded CSS Boston, came up with the idea for the business after noticing how much time they each spend visiting their children at prep school, “recogniz[ing] the need for these students to have a ‘mom away from home.'”

CSS Boston did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Mindy Horwitz followed a similar path. She created her business, mindyKNOWS, four years ago after noticing parents looking for information about Washington University in St. Louis and the surrounding area that only locals would know, the WSJ and The Daily Northwestern report.

“We started this business in 2019 as a service to parents,” a spokesperson for mindyKNOWS tells PEOPLE, explaining that the company has “experts” who “can help alleviate the stress of navigating a new town.”

In the years since, Horwitz claims to have helped hundreds of families, with a spokesperson for the company telling PEOPLE, “the reaction we have received has been overwhelming.”

Her service at Washington University is just $450 per academic year (plus delivery fees) or $1,600 for four years, according to her website. The business has even expanded to three other campuses, including Northwestern University, for $500 per year, as well as Skidmore College and University of Hartford, with each costing $450 per year.

Meanwhile, Rachelle Arnold has found success at the University of Tampa with her “rent a mom” business, Daisy Bug Delivery, according to WSJ and FOX affiliate WSVN. She said she and the company’s employees take a personal interest in each student they assist.

“I will come and get you. It’s free. I love. I don’t judge,” Arnold told WSVN. “We don’t tell the parents unless there’s a safety issue involved.”

Like CSS Boston, Daisy Bug Delivery costs $10,000 per academic year for the full package, WSVN reported. Students can also request individual services, such as pre-scheduled airport transportation, pet sitting, assistance with urgent care and emergency room visits.

Some have wondered if the service is truly helpful, or if it enables young people to lean on others to do unfamiliar things for them. But some of those who own these businesses have pushed back against that notion.

“I don’t think we’re hand-holding,” Heather Metz, who runs mindyKnows at the Northwestern campus, told The Daily Northwestern. “I mean, I’m not ironing sheets.”

“I think some people might have the wrong impression that we are preventing students from becoming independent,” Horwitz also told the outlet.

Additionally, a spokesperson for her company tells PEOPLE, “Our students are independent thinkers and [they] navigate their own college experience. We simply help fill in the holes on the behalf of the parents.”

The services also seemingly help ease the stress of college life on families as a whole. Douglas Feirstein told WSJ that he hired the business to help his daughter Emma unpack and organize her dorm two years ago, when she first arrived at Washington University.

“We were able to spend more stress-free time with Emma,” Feirstein explained.

A spokesperson for mindyKNOWS says, “We have helped families with such a wide range of needs and they are so grateful to have support and local resources.”