An excellent value
ore than 200 new students were able to enroll in Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Washington this fall as a result of greatly expanded tuition assistance. Tuition aid was more than doubled, with nearly $2 million made available for families versus $800,000 a year ago, thanks to the generosity of donors and a new archdiocesan program. The additional money also helped nearly 300 students at 33 Catholic schools who could not have afforded to continue at their school, return this year. Keeping schools affordable for families is a priority for the archdiocese and its parishes. That is why tuition is kept low, and on average covers only 70 percent of the cost of educating a child. The difference is made up through archdiocesan and parish subsidies, donations and fundraisers. For example, at St. Jerome School in Hyattsville, the tuition paid per child is $1,300 less than the actual cost. “I really appreciate how hard the school, parish and archdiocese work to keep tuition affordable for parents,” said Marilyn Wade, whose two children attend St. Jerome’s School. Across all 63 archdiocesan elementary schools, each student is subsidized an average of $1,900. Along with being affordable, Catholic schools are a great value because students receive much more than a rigorous academic education. With the Catholic faith as the foundation of our schools, all children learn and live the gospel values and teachings of the Church. This includes providing countless hours of service to their communities. Students at Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, DC collect and deliver more than 40,000 pounds of food for families in need every Thanksgiving. St. Martin of Tours School in Gaithersburg holds an annual food drive to fill the parish food pantry. Last year, students collected 6,000 cans of food. To welcome Pope Benedict XVI to Washington last April, Catholic school students throughout the archdiocese volunteered more than 30,000 hours in service to the community and joined parishes in collecting over 200,000 pounds of food for local food pantries. Catholic schools remain an important part of the community for families who “recognize the blessings of an education in a Catholic environment where our faith is the inspiration for the wholesome school culture that encourages academic achievement and also self-discipline, personal integrity and moral values,” said Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl in his recently published pastoral letter on education, Catholic Education: Looking to the Future with Confidence. Students learn to respect others, develop a sense of community and carry out the mission of care and service, just as Jesus did. This is why it is worth investing in our schools and keeping them affordable for families. Continued support of the parish offertory, school fundraising and archdiocesan programs are crucial to this goal, along with government support for Catholic schools.
Students from Little Flower School in Southern Maryland collect food for the Hunger to Hope food drive in honor of Pope Benedict XVI’s April visit to Washington.
Southern MD school uses tuition funds to enroll 12 new students
Little Flower School in Great Mills, Southern Maryland enrolled 12 new students this year thanks to an extra $30,000 it received in tuition funds from the archdiocese. It also used the money to retain five students, who could not have afforded to return to school this year. Enrollment is up at the school, which serves 180 students in St. Mary’s County. “We would not have been able to reverse our declining enrollment without the money,” said Fr. Joseph Sileo, pastor of Holy Face Church, one of three churches that the school serves. Five of the new students came from two families who enrolled their children in religious education classes at Holy Face Church because they thought they could never afford Catholic school tuition, Fr. Sileo said. The school leadership worked hard to identify families in the community who could benefit and to let them know tuition money was available.
to suPPort catholic schools
“Simple justice requires that families who choose non-public schools benefit from the monies that we all pay in taxes for the education of children. For choice to be real, there must be funding. The Catholic Church cannot be expected on its own to continue to provide a system of schools that work, that offer real opportunity and that provide for its students a future.”
From Catholic Education: Looking to the Future with Confidence By Archbishop Wuerl September 2008
amilies work hard and make sacrifices to pay for their child’s Catholic school education. Even with all the cost saving measures schools employ and the tuition assistance students can receive, there is still financial need, which is why government support for families to choose the best school for their child is so important. Last school year, Catholic schools in the archdiocese saved local goverments nearly $385 million in tax expenditures for public schools.
Government support for families
Washington, DC About 1,100 low-income students in Washington, DC received government support to attend a Catholic school last year using DC Opportunity Scholarships, a federal pilot program that provides up to $7,500 for tuition and fees.
Studies of the program show high parent satisfaction and students making academic progress, but unless Congress reauthorizes it, this successful program will end after this school year. Without the scholarships more than 85 percent of the recipients would have had to attend schools that are failing to meet the basic academic benchmarks set by the No Child Left Behind Act. While the scholarships do not cover the total cost of educating a child in Catholic school (with the archdiocese making up the difference), the program “serves as a model of the real possibilities for family choice when government support is an option,” Archbishop Wuerl said.
Maryland Maryland families may become eligible to receive scholarships they could use towards Catholic school tuition in the form of the BOAST Maryland Tax Credit.
This proposal in the Maryland General Assembly would give state income tax credits to businesses that donate to scholarship organizations for Catholic and other non-public school students, for enrichment programs for public school students and to provide grants for professional development. A similar program already has proven highly successful in Pennsylvania. BOAST is modeled on Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit. Since 2001, 3,200 businesses have qualified, donating $360 million for scholarships to over 158,000 Pennsylvania students and funding thousands of public education initiatives. BOAST passed the Senate last year by a vote of 30-17, but did not make it out of the House before the end of the legislative session.
“It is important to recognize that the challenges facing Catholic schools affect not only our own community, but also our state and nation. Catholic schools have long provided a necessary public service through their outstanding education, while also saving the public millions of tax dollars every year... Catholic schools in Maryland save taxpayers more than $650 million annually in per-pupil public schools costs.”
From An Oustanding Apostolate of Hope: Maryland’s Catholic Schools A statement from the Bishops of Maryland September 2008
Where does funding for catholic schools come from?
• • • • • Tuition Parishes Archdiocesan subsidies, including funds from the Archbishop’s Appeal and the Foward in Faith campaign Fundraisers Donors
• • • •
pillars of catholic schools
Catholic identity Academic excellence Accessibility Affordability
Learn more about Catholic education and read Archbishop Wuerl’s pastoral letter online at www.adw.org.