New tuition fund to bolster Catholic schools

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati is making an extra $2 million per year in need-based tuition assistance available to southwest Ohio families that send their children to Catholic schools.

The funds are available from the recent One Faith, One Hope, One Love capital campaign, which has raised more than $166 million for a variety of Catholic causes, according to the archdiocese.

Tuition assistance applications for the 2017-18 school year are due by Jan. 31, according to campaign spokesman Paul Clark. Awards will be determined Feb. 2 by the Catholic Education Foundation, which is overseeing the process.

“It will be at least $10 million (in assistance) over the next 5 years, with the expectation that the endowment builds up,” Clark said. “We expect fundraising will continue, with the idea that this program will be permanent.”

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Tuition varies by school, but Catholic elementary school often costs about $3,000 per year for Catholic parish members and $4,500 for nonmembers. Catholic high school tuition can exceed $9,000 per year.

Matt Sableski, principal of Carroll High School, said about half of his families currently receive some form of aid, either via the state’s EdChoice voucher program or Carroll’s own assistance.

“It’s the middle-class family right now that’s getting squeezed, and this fund will help those folks,” Sableski said. “They may be close to being able to afford it, but this may push them over the top.”

Students using EdChoice vouchers will be eligible for the new assistance at the high school level, but not at the elementaries, where the voucher covers the vast majority or sometimes all of the school cost.

Dirk Allen, director of admissions at Badin High School, called the plan “a great initiative” from the archdiocese.

“No matter how you look at it, families who commit to sending their kids to Catholic school are making a financial sacrifice, so any assistance is very helpful,” Allen said.

There are currently about 40,000 students attending K-12 Catholic schools in the Cincinnati archdiocese, which stretches from the Ohio River north through Dayton and Springfield to the Celina area.

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The archdiocese’s web site says these new grants will be capped at $1,000 per student for the first year, based on student need. Clark said the Catholic Education Foundation doesn’t know yet whether they’ll offer 2,000 grants of $1,000 each, 4,000 grants of $500 each, or a more individualized configuration.

“This is the first time, so we don’t have any idea how many applications we’ll get,” Clark said. “They’re going to look in February at what the needs are. The (archdiocese’s) schools office and financial people will make decisions Feb. 2, and they expect to contact all applicants that week.”

Tim Fogarty, chief operating officer of Catholic Central schools in Springfield, said more than 60 percent of families receive some type of aid or discount, “but we’re never able to meet 100 percent of the need of our families.” He said this program may allow Catholic Central to increase enrollment.

“It’s more aid to fill gaps that we can’t fill today, so existing families are still able to attend,” Fogarty said. “Or if somebody new is inquiring, but can’t quite get there, it’s a new opportunity to help them.”

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