Blueprint for Change: Funding Catholic Schools

Several of us sat in stunned disbelief.  Announcements of this sort are rarely well received — but there were a lot of people justifiably hurt at this one.  The meeting was for Catholic School families and we were listening to the board president explaining how the school planned on making up budget shortfalls.

Our local Catholic schools are struggling financially.  A Bingo operation —  which provided $200,000 plus dollars per year — stopped providing (changes in gambling laws).  The president and board began searching for ways to keep the schools solvent without raising tuition to elitist levels.  This is obviously no easy feat!

Last winter, we all listened attentively as the hierarchy explained that a major part of the plan was to stop all family tuition breaks.  Wow!  Every family must pay full tuition for every child.  They justified this decision by describing the supposed money that this solution was going to make up.

There is something inherently wrong with this thinking.

Sitting in front of me and just to the left was James.  He has seven kids and is doing all he can to keep them in Catholic schools.  He works construction in various places throughout the country and is gone for months at a time.  James comes home as often as possible, spends a few weeks with the family and then he is off to the next job.

I looked two seats down from James and saw Keith.  Keith and his wife are business owners.    Keith has one son who was currently in high school.

I couldn’t help but note that both James and Keith were very much alike in their earning capabilities — in fact Keith’s was a two-income family.  But they had very different amounts of discretionary income due to the fact that Keith was only rearing one child, and James was rearing seven.

Currently, James was probably paying three times as much as Keith in tuition (due to family tuition breaks that were in effect).  The new plan would increase Keith’s tuition by a few hundred, while Jim needed to find seven times the amount of tuition that Keith paid.

The guy with the most discretionary income had no worries, and the guy that had the least… was asked to double his contribution?

Doesn’t add up, does it!

How can we keep Catholic schools financially solvent without betraying our very mission?

The Catholic School Funding-Woes Cycle

Catholic school funding problems often focus on two realities that have no easy solutions.  The first is the higher wage of lay teachers over religious teachers, and the second is the increase cost of doing education from a technological standpoint.

This article considers another factor that can be easily changed and must be considered as a source of the funding woes of Catholic schools; the tuition per student model.

Tuition-based funding is a fairly recent phenomenon for Catholic schools.  Currently, most schools are primarily funded by tuition with modest contributions from the parish.

The following cycle has emerged for funding Catholic schools over the past decades.

Because of a lack of parish support, Catholic schools were forced to become more tuition dependent.  Because they are more tuition dependent, poorer families and large families (tuition per student model) cannot attend.  Schools become elitist.  Since they have become elitist, there is less impetus for parish support…and on the cycle goes.

The following proposal is an attempt to break this funding-woes cycle.

Catholic School Tuition and Short Sited Business Models

What follows is a proposal to fund Catholic schools in the current spiritual climate that does not compromise our Catholic character.  The proposal will help develop a stronger bond between the school and the parish while also exercising sound business sense.  The basic concept is simple; base tuition on the number of families that participate (instead of students) and reestablish the important bond between the school and the parish.

Tuition per student is the primary way that Catholic schools are funded.  This procedure has inherent injustices and was banned in some diocese in the past.  This model is also short-sighted from a business perspective as we will see.  Every school that advocates this form of funding is in danger of failure in one of two ways; the school will close from lack of students, or the school will morph into a private school for the elite that is Catholic in name only.

The past three decades is replete with examples of exactly these phenomena.

The Proposal

This proposal makes the following three recommendations:

  1. Replace tuition rates per student, with tuition rates per family.
  2. Families who pay up to 7% of their income on tuition will have fulfilled their parish obligation (although they may give more).
  3. Families will never be required to pay more than 7% of gross income for family tuition.  The parish makes up the difference for families whose 7% does not cover family tuition needs.

A Simple Scenario

Let us consider a simplified scenario of fifty families with who love their faith, and thus endeavor to start a Catholic School.  In this scenario, the families will have varying numbers of children but will be similar in every other way…income, homes, expenses, etc.  We will assume 100 students for the school and that each family has $48,000 ($4000/month) to spend after taxes.

In this scenario, we will assume 25 one-child families (25 students), 11 two-child families (22 students), 6 three-child families (18 students), 5 four-child families (20 students), and 3 five-child families (15 students).

We will consider three things from a budgetary standpoint.

1. The first will be a simplified example of expenses that typical families have.

a. “Overhead expenses” are those each family has such as house, car, food, clothing and medical insurance for the parents.  These do not vary between families.

b. “Child expenses” include food, clothing transportation and medical for each child.  This will vary with the number of children the family has.

2. The second will be a comparison of the tuition cost for each family that results when a per student model is used and when a per family model is used.

3. The third will be a look at the contributions that each family will give back to the Church as the children grow up and become income producers.

Family Expenses

Expenses

(Overhead)

Families

1-child

Family B

2-child

Family C

3-child

Family D

4-child

Family E

5-child

House $1100 $1100 $1100 $1100 $1100
Utilities $200 $200 $200 $200 $200
Cars $200 200 $200 $200 $200
Parent Food $200 $200 $200 $200 $200
Parent Clothing $50 $50 $50 $50 $50
Parent Medical $250 $250 $250 $250 $250
Total “Overhead” $2000 $2000 $2000 $2000 $2000
Expenses -Children
Children Food $100 $200 $300 $400 $500
Children Clothing $50 $100 $150 $200 $250
Children Medical $50 $100 $150 $200 $250
Transport w/children $100 $125 $150 $175 $200
Extra (gifts,emerg) $50 $100 $150 $200 $250
TotalChild Expense $350 $625 $900 $1175 $1450
Total Monthly Exp $2350 $2625 $2900 $3175 $3450
Money Available $4000 $4000 $4000 $4000 $4000
$$ Left-over (discretionary income.) $1650 $1375 $1100 $825 $550

The scenario above shows that each family does have some similar expenses.  The “overhead” for each family is $2000 – which funds the house, car, food, clothing and health of the parents.  But each family also has very different “child expenses” depending on the number of children (stating the obvious).  These expenses vary from $350 per month for the single child family, to $1450 per month for the family with five children.

The family with more children obviously has more obligations.  Families with more kids have less discretionary income to pay for items such as Catholic School tuition.

Funding the Catholic School:  Tuition per Student versus Tuition per Family

Assume that these families need $250,000 to run the Catholic School.  Tuition per students would take this $250,000 and divide it by the number of students (in this case 100).  That’s $2500/year per child.  Each family then pays for each child that attends.

Tuition per family takes the $250,000 and divides it by the number of families (in this case 50).  That is $5000/year per family.  Each family pays the same.

A comparison of the annual and monthly costs using the tuition/student model and student/family model are given below:

Tuition Models Family A

1-child

Family B

2-child

Family C

3-children

Family D

4-children

Family E

5 children

25 families 11 family 6 families 5 families 3families
Tuition/Student

250,000/100 = $2500 per student

$2500/yr

$208/mo

$5000/yr

417/mo

$7500/yr

$625/mo

$10,000/yr

$833/mo

$12,500/y

$1041/mo

Disc Inc. minus tuition $1442 $958 $475 $2 -$491
Tuition/Family

250,000/50 = $5000 per family

$5000/yr

$416/mo

$5000/yr

$416/mo

$5000/yr

$416/mo

$5000/yr

$416/mo

$5000/yr

$416/mo

Disc Inc. minus tuition $1234 $959 $684 $409 $134

Tuition per Student

The family with one child only pays $208 per month using the tuition per student method, while the family with five children will be paying $1041 (5 times as much).  The family with the least discretionary income is thus charged the most money.

The $208/month that is charged in the per student tuition will only work if everyone is capable of paying it.  When larger families can no longer pay their tuition, the budget has a short-fall.  The budget short-fall was guaranteed by the unreasonable expectation that large families are capable of paying large amounts of tuition.  Families with multiple children either have to be very rich, or they must exclude themselves from the school.

Any family with three or more children has a problem.  Is it feasible to expect these families to pay this tuition?  Thus, the families of three, four or five are forced out.  As these families leave, half the population leavesThus the school closes or turns into a school for the very rich and/or for single child homes.

The tuition/student scenario is based on the false assumption that students are income producers, not income consumers.  Our public tax system is more family friendly than our Catholic schools.  Federal tax rates give tax-breaks for children in realization that families bear a larger burden in choosing to raise the next generation.

Catholic schools have it backwards…they expect larger families to pay more.  This is akin to charging sewer rates and income taxes based on the number of children that are in the family.  Big incentive not to have kids!

Tuition/Family

Tuition per family is actually tuition per paycheck.  In the tuition/family scenario, since every family has the same number of income earners, they should be charged the same.  The school is open to serving all the children of all the families that are interested in a Catholic education.  With the tuition/family situation, the school is more like a co-op than a business.

In the scenario given above, each family is required to pay $416 per month.  This is a much more reasonable expectation for each family.  There are no unrealistic expectations for families that have the least amount of discretionary income to use.  Budget shortfalls will be much more difficult – all tuition expectations are reasonable.

Dealing with Budget Shortfalls

In the tuition per student model, families with the fewest children, (who also have the most discretionary income) are paying an artificially low tuition.  The potential for default from these families is small.  However, a few families with larger numbers of children are expected to pay tens of thousands of dollars each year in tuition.  If these few very needy families do not find tens of thousands of dollars to pay tuition — shortfalls occur.

In the tuition per family scenario, all families pay the same amount.  Even if more families default on their tuition, the default is hundreds per family, instead of thousands.

It is far more reasonable to expect a large number of families (with grandparents, uncles, aunts) to generate hundreds of dollars each, than to have a small number of families with too many burdens already, to generate tens of thousands of dollars.

Children as Consumables, or Children as Investments

Our Catholic school administrators can learn from our own federal government that children are investments — investment in our future.  Children are not like hamburgers or other consumables where the more you buy, the more you pay — with no future value.  Children are like investments that grow over time.

Let’s assume a perfect world in which that every Catholic School child grows up, nets $48,000/year and gives 10% to the Church.  Each family eventually gives back to the Church in proportion to the number of children they have…all other things being equal.

Family A

1-child

Family B

2-child

Family C

3 –child

Family D

4-child

Family E

5-child

10% of net 4800/year 9600/year $14,400 $19,200 24,000
Over 50 year $240,000 $480,000 $720,000 $960,000 $1,200,000

Thus, the money invested in the families pay off greater dividends with the larger families as opposed to the smaller families.  The return expected per family is dependant on the number of children the family has.

A Challenge to Catholic Parishes

Catholic schools are supposed to be parish ministries.  In many places, they still are to some degree.  There was a time when Catholic Schools were funded 100% by parishes – which is thankfully still the case in some dioceses.

Assuming that parish giving could be based on a 7% tithe of gross income, the following challenge goes forth to all Catholic parishes with Catholic Schools:

  1. Families who pay up to 7% of their gross income have satisfied their parish obligation (although they may give more if they wish).
  2. Families should never be expected to pay more than 7% of their income toward family tuition.  The parish would then make up the difference.  Thus, parish money only goes to families in need.

The above challenge helps keep the parish involved in the ministry called Catholic schools.  Often, parishes have been asked to give blanket sums of money to Catholic schools to lower over-all tuition rates that only wealthy families can afford.  With the above scenario, specific families in need are the one that use parish money.

Conclusion – Stopping the Cycle

This proposal will help break the funding-woes cycle that is keeping Catholic Schools from becoming everything that they should be.  A school, whose funding model inherently eliminates a segment of the children they are supposed to serve, will be a failure before it ever opens its doors.  This proposal does not discriminate against families with multiple children and give arbitrarily low tuition rates to a segment of the population.

This proposal will also re-establish the important link between the Catholic school and the parish and/or diocese.  Under this proposal, the parish which (often correctly) perceives the Catholic school as serving the elite will be asked instead to participate specifically in funding families in need.  There is simply more of an impetus for a parish to give money to families in need, than to give lump sums of money to lower tuition for predominantly wealthy families.

Finally, this proposal sends an important message to a culture that has become anti-family and anti-child.  This proposal builds from the notion that the family is the building block of society – as the family goes, so goes society.  The Church must reach out its hand to help those that choose to rear the next generation of Christ’s flock.  The more we can help each family live their faith, the more truly Catholic are schools will become.

By

My wife's name is Susan and we have four children born in '86, '90, '95, and '98. I teach/coach and administrate at a Catholic High School. I have been in the education for 26 years, the first 9 in public K-12 system, 5 years at a community college, and the past 13 in a Catholic High School.

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  • goshea2

    These ideas look great; we have to keep coming up with good ideas until one of them works! I once ran a Catholic school in a places that was statistically the third poorest community in New South Wales (Australia). We charged no school tuition fees. Instead, some dedicated and enterprising people formed a business and “hired” parents to work for them on a part-time basis. (It was a catering business.) Once the workers were paid,they donated their wages into the school funds. It not only left everybody with their dignity, but it actually strenghened the community. We never missed a payment on anything. There are lots of ideas that we can come up with if we think the cause is worth it!
    Gerard O’Shea

  • Kathryn

    This might work, but it might not. It probably depends on the community in question. I doubt one model will work for all.

    Oskari Juurikkala points out the dangers of free retirement programs (aka Social Security) on society–people fail to have children because they are shielding from the consequences of that decision

    http://mises.org/daily/2451 “Making Kids Worthless”

    But I can’t help but wonder about the consequences of shielding people from the decision to go ahead and have a large family. I know people like to say “We let God plan” as if they had no say in the matter, but the truth is, unless a couple has a fertility problem, they have a huge say in how many children they have.

    We’ve already been through a model where the costs of an education (any education, whether public or Catholic) have been divorced from those who are consuming it. I’m not convinced it has worked over the long haul because I think it leads to a certain “entitlement” attitude, which is destroying our society. (Perhaps no model works in all places and at all time for all people.)

    Why do we not use the propsed model for food, clothing, and housing?

    Then too, what about the people who make the legitimate decision to homeschool. Are they not entitled to the same financial help from the parish community, espcially if they are using something like Seton (accredited and “under the Bishop of Arlington”)?

  • asquared

    Catholics can have the parish they want, the school they want, the ministries they want, the parish they want anytime they are ready to embrace stewardship spirituality and tithing on the diocesan and parish level.

  • fishman

    That seems like a good idea. The part that is most important to me, as a person who hopes my children will always be home schooled is the idea of mission. I would very much support giving money to catholic education that I feel is focused on teaching people about Jesus. The lessons should permeate the curriculum and every teacher should be loyal to the teachings of the church. I don’t know how many catholic schools still match the kind of ideal , but I have heard of many that do not. I think that if the principle and teachers are more concerned with ‘academic’ then ‘morality’ the school no longer deserves to be called catholic.

    I do believe that a funding scheme like the one described above sounds much more in line with the idea of mission then expecting everyone to pay equally when some people can’t afford it. so if it were proposed at a parish where I was a member I would be in support of it.

  • plowshare

    People who are not extremely wealthy and who thus rely on entitlements for their old age and do not have children for that reason are incredibly shortsighted. Even now, the best nursing homes do not give as much or as loving care as one’s own children, if they were raised well. As our society produces fewer and fewer children, there will also be fewer people to pay the taxes, etc. that support the entitlements in the first place, and the quality of care will go down, not up.

  • elkabrikir

    Please, do tell, what is the ideal family size? I don’t want anybody sheilding me from the consequences of giving birth to my preborn 12th child….there still is time…..I’m only 14 wks!

    When will I have to pay more for the extra pew space we take up? Oh! I forgot, the church is empty except for graybeards, drooling babies, and mothers limping under the weight of their preborn burden.

    Without children, Catholic schools become a moot point. And, FYI, most people I know who are faithful to the Church’s teaching on marriage and family, wouldn’t entrust their children to the laity, many of whom aren’t even Catholic, who staff Catholic schools.

    And, why isn’t a Catholic education practically free anymore? Oh yeah! It’s the “consequence” of several generations of married Catholics buying into Margaret Sanger’s ideology. The Catholic children, who could have grown up to become priests, brothers, and nuns, that used to staff Catholic schools, don’t exist.

    God extends his mercy to a culture that embraces life: the “We let God plan” people.

    You can thank all those “prudent in the ways of the world” people for the high cost of Catholic education.

  • drea916

    elkabrikir- Amen!!!
    Catholics need to be more generous with having children and giving their money.

  • fishman

    “But I can’t help but wonder about the consequences of shielding people from the decision to go ahead and have a large family.”

    wow, I can’t believe someone on a catholic forum would say that. Maybe we should all start using birth control next. Seriously, even if the statement comes from someone who is an ardent advocate of NFP it still betrays a contraceptive attitude.
    Children are God’s greatest gift to married couples. Can you have too many?

    I suppose so, after all, you can have too much food, or too much money as well, but the idea of ‘shielding form consequence’ sounds an a whole lot like , refusing to carry the cross.

  • Kathryn

    I do not believe there is any such thing as a perfect family size, so the question “What is the ideal family size?” cannot be answered.

    I know that if my husband looses his job–a real possibility–we will be better able to handle the financial storm with our only 3 boys, then say, if we had had 8 or 9 or 10 extra mouths to feed, clothe, and educate.

    Of course, come nursing home age, we are very likely to be quite a bit worse off than those people who had more children than we have managed to have.

    My concern is that people not be (totally) divorced from the expense of the items they use, be it housing or cars, education, retirement, food, etc. “It’s free” is a phrase that should be banned from our lexicon.

    My homeschool program gives a large family discount. So does our Tae Kwon Do program. I have no problem with businesses (and yes, education is a business, including Catholic education) giving “large volume discounts.” That can be very good for business.

    My husband’s 4 siblings had the benefit of a nearly free pre-Vatican II Catholic education. Not one has practiced the faith in any meaningful way once they graduated highschool and went to college. To the best of my knowledge, none has entered any kind of house of worship since the mid-70s or so, except for such things as weddings and funerals. And that is sad indeed.

  • elkabrikir

    Kathryn, blessings beget blessings. Also, according to the world, you’d be better able to handle a financial storm with no children. Your logic is flawed. God is faithful.

    We never had children because we could “finally” afford them. Quite the contrary, we could NEVER afford them. Ironically, during the only three year span when I felt some financial security in my adult life, I questioned whether we should disturbed the still waters of our life with another baby. I could palpably feel selfishness creeping in. The remedy: have another baby!

    I have become pregnant while my husband was unemployed. That child will be 18 in a few days. We have never gone hungry a day in his life. He is and will always be, an eternal joy! God has always provided. Always. I can give you muliple examples of God’s generosity. None of them were a result of people giving us “breaks” specifically because of our large family.

    During this recession, which has become a depression for our family, I find myself expecting our 12th child. There’s an Italian saying, “Every child comes with a loaf of bread under his arm.” I certainly hope that’s true, yet again. Most importantly, I firmly believe that we live in God’s mercy. Even if we go bankrupt, that will be an act of mercy. Every day we collect our manna. Daily I must turn to God, never storing up treasure, but for the love generated in our family, a School of Love.

    If you have limited your family size to three children by using NFP, because you have prayerfully discerned that is God’s will for your family, then, peace be to you. What can I say? His will for you is immutable. I certainly hope that you discerned properly, because a child lives in eternity, while financial security collapses at the grave.

    God cannot be outdone in generosity. Period.

    PS I’ve never regretted a single soul I’ve helped bring into the world…it’s the closest thing to heaven on earth. It’s worth driving clunkers, or being housebound because your clunker has died, or, not to be trite, living on a grate.

  • allboys

    “Catholic school funding problems often focus on two realities that have no easy solutions. The first is the higher wage of lay teachers over religious teachers, and the second is the increase cost of doing education from a technological standpoint.”

    Precisely. Why do most parishes and their schools cling to a business model based on a template that no longer exists — droves of cheap labor, and a no-frills education with large classes? Too many Catholic schools are trying (and failing) to replicate the well-equipped public school down the street with a fraction of the funding, and then are dismayed to discover that it doesn’t work. Most of the high costs of Catholic education have NOTHING to do with its primary mission — that of educating children in the faith — and everything to do with small classes, computers, science labs, sports programs, arts programs, foreign-language programs, resources for learning disabilities, etc. You know, the things that public schools can provide because they are supported by tax dollars paid by every resident, not just those who currently have school-age children.
    Trying to come up with different financing schemes is like re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Why not consider a different model — such as the one used by the Mormons? They don’t operate their own school systems, relying instead on impressive and extensive religious education programs that meet outside regular school hours. Instead of spending millions of dollars replicating the physical plants and secular amenities of the public school system, they focus their resources instead strictly on the religious education, but with much better results than the anemic CCD classes available in most Catholic parishes. Imagine what sorts of CCD and adult education programs our parishes could offer if they had even a quarter of the funds spent on the typical parish school. An added bonus of such a system would be to eliminate the uncomfortable divisions between the Catholic school kids and the “publics” that is apparent in many parishes.

  • thomas80

    I am intrigued by the “per family” tuition approach and think it makes great sense. My question is: are there any schools that are using that approach or maybe tried it and abandoned the idea? I don’t think it has to have a track record to consider the idea, but it would be nice to know if has been done before and what was the outcome? Please comment if you know. Thanks.

  • Kathryn

    Well, I seemed to have stirred up a bit of a hornet’s nest. I intended no bashing of large families.

    Let us see if I can explain what I am talking about.

    There is (or was anyway) a group of people called THINKERs–Two Healthy Incomes, No Kids, Early Retirement. I first learned about them when we visited some relatives out west about 10 years ago.

    Population Research Instit has a wonderful little video about the number of children a society needs in order to keep afloat. I imagine most of us have seen it. If not, it is available here:

    http://insidecatholic.com/Joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1154&Itemid=10

    After watching the video, it would appear that the THINKERS really aren’t thinking at all. On the contrary: they bought into lie that Social Security would be there (not likely), their employers would continue to fund their pensions (maybe, maybe not), and there 401K and IRA would have $1 million each courtesy of a 10% interest, compounded daily or some such nonsense, and ALL of this would happen if they (and lots of others) did not have children. The THINKERS appear to have been shielded from the reality of how a market and a culture continues to move forward. “No Children” does not mean “Early Retirement,” it means “No Future.”

    But what about the “consequences” of a large family I mentioned?

    Let’s say John and Jane are a nice Catholic couple from a nice Diocese with a nice Parish that “guarantees” that families will only have to pay $2000 max per year in tuition no matter the number of children they have. The Diocese will make up the rest. Doesn’t seem so much on their $75,000 income, does it? They have 8 children. Life is good.

    But then economy tanks, John’s income is cut, Parish and Diocesan fundraising does not go well, and now the school wants $2000 for each child in the school to cover costs.

    John and Jane have done nothing wrong, but they had the rug pulled out from underneath them, nevertheless. They may have made “family planning” (or other fanancial) decisions based on a guarantee that they did not have to cover the full amount of their chidlren’s education. Perhaps if they had not been given this “guarantee” they may not have had 8 children.

    I know, I know, it sounds all very contraceptive doesn’t it? But I understood that part of NFP was having the discussion of “Can we welcome another child financially or emotionally right now? If not why not? What can we do to make it so we can welcome another little one?”

    Let us assume that John and Jane knew full tuition to be $2000 per child per year. It is entirely possible that John and Jane may have gone on to have 8 (or more) children, but knowing that cost, they might have done things differently, arranged things differently. Instead of large house in the subburbs, a large house in the county that allows them to have chickens and a large garden. They homeschool through 5 grade, and the children go into Catholic school grade 6 on up. The economy still tanks, John’s income is still cut, but you know, life is still pretty good. Now instead of sending the kids to school in 6th grade, they wait until 9th. And you know, a lot of city slickers are more than happy to fork over $2 for real farm fresh eggs at the local farmers market.

    And that is all I am saying. When people are lured into accepting a “freebie”, even when offered with good intentions, it can cause a mess. I have faith in God and His generousity. I also happen to be quite convined that the free exchange of goods and services between people is one of the best ways to go about having not only our needs/wants met, but in helping to provide for the needs/wants of others. When people do not understand the true cost of something, they cannot make good choices. No one can prepare for every conceivable hardship and heartache, but we may be creating some that needed not be created.

    We are a society divorced from the costs of retirement, medical care, and education because we are not paying for them ourselves. We rely on the gov’t, the parish, insurance companies, etc to get us what we need, or think we need. Our delivery systems are very inflexible and our demands are sky high. This does not bode well for our future.

    And no, Elkabrikir, we didn’t limit our family size with NFP, not precisely. We married “late”, spent a good hunk of our “combined fertility” infertile due to breakfeeding. We lost our last one (number 4) due to miscarrage. We are at an age where, statistically speaking, our fertility if greatly reduced.

  • Greg Fazzari

    To asquared. Great comment. We once looked at the number of families in our parishes and realized that if every family averaged $100 per month (averaged…some less, some more), Catholic schools would be free and the parishes would have more money than they ever had. The $100 per month turned out to be less than 5% of the average income in our town. The sad part is…the money is currently availabe, but instead of everyone pitching in, the families that choose Catholic schools are carrying the bulk of the burden by paying tuition.

  • MFeeney

    The school that I work at does a Fair Share program. Each year the families decide how much they can pay after time of prayer. They do not share their finances but we trust them. Some pay over the “average” tuition, some pay below and some pay it in full. It all works out and our enrollment is one of the highest in the archdiocese.

  • Greg Fazzari

    MFeeney: Is there is parish or diocesan support? How is the “average tuition” figured out…per student? I knew of one local school that went fair share, but had to modify it.

  • GaryT

    I personally find the flat fee per student troubling in a Catholic school where the cost of school tuition is a near occasion to sin with respect to contraception.

    I’ve seen one parish school that provided free tuition for any family that tithed. For families who did not, they paid the regular tuition. Obviously larger families figured out it was usually cheaper to tithe, but in the end, everything worked out, since other families tithed anyway. Everyone has the opportunity to be generous financially to their means possible to provide the children in the parish a Catholic education.

    I totally agree that Catholic education should not strive to be exactly the same as secular but with a theology class. Rather they should re-think what it means to form a child in their Catholic faith – be different! The current school model isn’t working all that great anyway! Why copy it?

    Kathryn,
    “Can we welcome another child financially or emotionally right now?”
    While this is a totally valid question, it can lead to a perspective of fear. There is no fear in perfect love, so I have found it perhaps to be more useful to ask “In what way can we best glorify God?” Marital acts open to life are not the only way a married couple can glorify God.

  • Kathryn

    GaryT:

    My question “Can we welcome another child financially or emotionally right now?” was to be followed by two others “If not, why not?” and “What can we do to make it so we can welcome another little one?” Sometimes a couple makes changes and welcomes another baby. Sometimes they do not.

    I agree that marital acts open to life are not the only way a married couple can glorify God, but those of us who have small families are not infrequently thought to be “contraceptive” in our thinking and/or in actual practice, selfish, materialistic, secular, and in general unwilling to “carry the cross.”

    There are economic consequences with having a small family, a mid-sized one, a large one. Simply pointing that out and suggesting that people should expect to pay out of pocket for the services they use should not bring with it an automatic charge of being anti-life and pro-birth control. Indeed, paying for what you use seems fair to me and generally seems more efficient.

    The Friedman’s have pointed out that there are only 4 ways to spend money:

    “Spend your money on yourself.”
    “Spend your money on other people.”
    “Spend other people’s money on yourself.”
    “Spend other people’s money on other people.”
    (quoted by O’Rourke in his book, Eat the Rich)

    Generally, people who spend their own money on themselves try to get the best bang for their buck. Educationally, they might get a used Saxon text as opposed to a new one. They might share the Dive DVDs with their neighbor, if their neighbor is also using Saxon and DIVE.

    When people spend on others, they don’t always know what the other wants. Saxon math is a great program, but it isn’t for everyone. My neighbor might be better off with Math U See.

    If you are spending other people’s money, it’s hard to resist getting more than you need: a new Saxon text, new teachers manual, new Dive CDs and Saxon’s own CD series. Oh, and lots of pens, paper, and pencils.

    If you spend other people’s money on other people: Who cares? Saxon 4/5 for grade 4, Saxon 6/5 for Grade 5, Math U See Zeta for Grade 6 (Having tried this, I don’t recommend it…) And cost isn’t an option either.

    Charity and love of neighbor is an important part of the Christian experience. Ignoring the economic implications of this or that lifestyle and making financial promises that can’t be kept, espcially when based on the actions of other parties, is neither charitable or loving.

  • Greg Fazzari

    Underlying the main arguments I have heard against the idea of family tuition as opposed to student tuition is our culture’s insistence that each person pull their own weight. Can’t afford having kids…don’t have them – the contraceptive mentality. This short-sighted perspective forgets the extraordinary responsibility that comes from raising children – a responsibility that should be shared by the entire Church community.

  • Kathryn

    Mr. Fazzari:

    Our culture does not in anyway insist that people pull their own weight. If that truly were the case, we would not have the many welfare programs we have, not only government ones, but private ones as well, and not only for use within our own borders, but for use outside of them (Haiti being the most recent example.)

    Feeding, clothing, housing, and health care are important parts of raising children. Perhaps it is time to simply have parish dictated “family food allowances,” “family housing allowances,” “family clothing allowances,” as well.

  • Greg Fazzari

    Kathryn:

    Forgive me for not understanding your point.

    But, in fact, these are the arguments I have personnally heard when I have presented the idea of family-tuition in the past. Educational institutions throughout history have primarily been organized and funded through two institutions: Governments and Church. I’m hoping that “Church” continues. The documents of the Church are clear…Christ wants Catholic schools.

  • mxgutierrez

    I know we cannot continue much longer in Catholic School. My son is only in Kindergarten and we have two others behind him, so far. It is $7,000.00 per year, per child. No family discount. Can you believe it? Someone said it above, “…where the cost of school tuition is a near occasion to sin with respect to contraception.” Simply put, with no family discount, our family will not be able to afford Catholic School once our third is in. The plan is to send them until we can’t.

    Imagine? Seven-thousand dollars X ? = …

  • Dpsheren

    Let me understand,   The majority of Catholic schools are tuition funded, yet the church, who does not fund the schools want to prevent the employees from having birth control options as part of their insurance.   Why would the church expect an exemption?     

    How can they be against providing birth control and at the same time be against abortion?      Birth control is the most effective method, outside of abstinance, to prevent unwanted pregnancies.    Do they really expect their parishoners to be celebate or to have more children then they can responsibly support and educate?    Can’t logically have it both ways.    Prevent abortion, use birth control.     Avoid funding the schools, but want control of all areas?  

  • Jodie

    We (the people) ARE the Church. Many forms of birth control cause abortions. Study the Catholic Catechism for your complete answers. How nice of you to care about our churches – which church do you attend?

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