TUITION ASSISTANCE ENDOWMENT
EXAMINING ITS IMPACT,
AND WHY IT NEEDS TO GROW
Over the decades, the number of Catholic schools in the United States has plunged alongside enrollment. The Chicago Archdiocese system, for example, had 429 elementary schools in 1965; by 2017 that number had shrunk to 181, according to
and that tuition is beyond the capacity of many parents.
Certainly a declining birth rate, lower church attendance, and the impact of the child abuse scandal have also contributed to there being many less pupils in our schools. But many families withdraw children from Catholic schools prior to graduation because they may find themselves in a financial crunch and have too much pride to seek help.
While Saints Peter and Paul School does not offer scholarships, it does have a process to address the issue of families experiencing unforeseen challenges
in meeting tuition obligations?
Forty years ago, it would have been common for the parish to
cover a budget shortfall due to delinquent tuition payments. That was due in large part because there were relatively few, if any, other ministries in a parish besides a school. But times change and since parish revenues are not infinite, new ministries were funded, in many cases, by reducing the portion of parish subsidy a school was receiving. Current diocesan policy limits parish support to a school no more than 25% of the school operating expense budget.
When our parish could no longer pick up the tab for uncollected tuition, the School Board (back in the late 1980's) determined it was not a collection agency. They artificially increased tuition to a point above expenses in anticipation that a significant amount of projected revenue would go uncollected.
This meant that all of the remaining families were paying for those who, for whatever reason, were unable to fulfill their tuition payments.
While school leaders realized that they, but for the grace of God, could one day be in the same situation, and that we do have a responsibility to help those in need, they soon saw an inherent unfairness in the policy of inflating tuition. It was at this point the Advancement Board put forth a proposal to build a Tuition Assistance Endowment.
From the inception, this Endowment was meant to assist current school families who were dealing with
life altering circumstances. Perhaps the major bread winner lost a job. Maybe there were significant medical bills not covered by insurance.
Even worse, one of the spouses might want out of the marriage, or heaven forbid, a parent died.
Each of these circumstances is devastating enough without also having to withdraw a child from our school. A school where they are happy, have friends, and are learning.
So, how does this Tuition Assistance Endowment work?
A family must first file an application for tuition assistance with FACTS, a nationwide leader in tuition management serving more than 13,000 schools. They conduct an objective Financial Aid Assessment which takes the guesswork and emotion out of awarding aid. This process assures that all tuition assistance is based on need alone. This application is also forwarded to the Catholic Education Foundation, another source of financial aid for families.
Based on recent historical data, Fr. Brad anticipates he will receive tuition assistance recommendations from FACTS for approximately $130,000 in financial aid for next year.
It is important to understand that these funds are designated for families experiencing an unexpected financial bind that puts in jeopardy their ability to continue having their children receive a faith-based education at our fine school.
For the 2019 fall term, our Tuition Assistance Endowment, with a corpus of $2,481,548 will generate $100,609 to meet the anticipated $130,000 need or about 23% short of the goal identified by our pastor. Fortunately the Golf Outing anticipates being able to cover that shortfall with any excess profits going directly into the school's operating budget.
To meet all of the expected requests through the Tuition Assistance Endowment alone, however, the corpus would need to be $3,250,000. This is an important goal for the future of our school as raising money at a Golf Outing is not as easy, or lucrative, as it was in years past.
That would also allow Golf Outing proceeds to fund other areas of the school.