Monday, February 1, 2016

How to Make a Catholic Education Affordable

Living in the land of charter schools, our family was faced with many appealing and diverse options for a free education for our children.  Like providing food on the table and shelter for their bodies, Catholic schooling is not cheap.  Tuition, uniforms, school fees - it all adds up and it can be tough for many families. Contrary to the Myth Catholic schools did not surface to take care of the educational needs of the wealthy.  Socio-economic diversity abounds in many Catholic schools because assistance also abounds. Making Catholic education affordable is something that every diocese strives to do and there are plenty of state and local groups who are wiling to help make a Catholic education possible for every child.

State Level

Within Arizona, there exists a Catholic education organization which is a 501c3.  Formerly known as CTDOP it is now just called Catholic Education Arizona.  Couples and individuals can contribute to this organization as part of their tax credit.  The money will not go to a specific student, but rather to the school's tuition fund. Families looking for tuition assistance apply for need based awards through this organization each year.   For more information click here.  Applications open in February and you must submit a FAIR application.

Parish Level

Our parish offers a Parish Scholarship for families registered and active in either our parish or another local parish.  This covers roughly 20 - 30% (or more) of the price of tuition. Our parish also introduced the Stewardship Program some years ago. This program encourages families to increase their commitment to prayer life, service, and tithing. Families enter into a contract with the parish and receive all parish resources (including school tuition) as part of the commitment.  Stewardship families are given full tuition coverage as part of their Parish Scholarship.

Many Catholic schools also offer a tuition reduction for families with multiple kids enrolled.  Our Parish Scholarship offers more assistance for each child enrolled, thus providing a multi-child discount for active Catholic families.

School Level

Beyond the programs in writing, I know most parishes would work very hard to be able to provide a Catholic education for families that desire it. We have a Development Director at our school and she works with each family to find assistance to fit their needs.  Below is a list of national and local School Tuition Organizations (STO's) she provided me to supplement this post!  According to Kelly, STO's "offer parents the opportunity to apply for need based financial aid as well as offering a means for families to establish individual student accounts in which donors recommend that their tax credit go to a particular student". There are over 60 such organization just in Arizona.  Below is a sampling of those organization that are helping students at our school.

Private and Other Help 

AAA Scholarship foundation (click here).  Applications available beginning March 16th.
Arizona 4 Education Scholarship Foundation (click here).
Arizona Private Education Scholarship Fund (click here). Applications accepted starting April 11th.
Arizona Scholarship Fund (click here).
Arizona School Choice Trust (click here). 
Brophy Community Foundation (click here).
Institute for Better Education (click here). Applications accepted until March 18th.
Tuition Organization for Private Schools (click here). Applications available after May1st.
Arizona Leadership Foundation (click here). Applications available late March, early April and due by June 15th.
Arizona Empowerment Scholarship (click here). Application period is January 1- April 1st.

All application dates are for the year 2016

Having school choice has broadened the possibilities for many families.  Some choose to enroll their children at the neighborhood public school, others choose non-traditional public schools, and still others find that homeschooling is the best fit for their families or certain children within the family.  My background in child development and Education has taught me that there is no single 'best' fit for all kids - rather parents should look at the options and children and seek to find the best solution for each family member. I encourage Catholic parents to look at Parochial schools as an option.  It is one that can be affordable and it may just be an answer to your prayers.

Good Luck, God Bless, and thanks for stopping by!

Thanks to Kathryn at TeamWhitaker for linking up with me this Catholic Schools Week.  To read her 7 Reasons Why Catholic School Matters click here!

To read my favorite 5 reasons for sending my kids to a Catholic school click here...

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