Need-based Tuition Assistance - A Catholic Education for All Families

by Dr. Joseph D. Hollowell, 2 yrs ago

Over the past twelve months I have talked to more people than ever about whether or not a Roncalli education is within the reach of their particular family.  The current economic environment has many Roncalli families caught up in situations of unemployment, underemployment, reduction of hours, and reduction of much-needed bonuses.  Support of these families through these difficult times is critically important and, indeed, one of the hallmarks of our Catholic faith.  That support comes through two fundamental means – the financial support of our parishes and money raised for need-based tuition assistance.

Since its founding as an archdiocesan interparochial high school for the South Deanery of Indianapolis,   Roncalli has been strongly supported by our South Deanery parishes.   This year Roncalli will receive over $1,400,000 of support from these parishes.  This support is awarded to our families in the form of a lowered tuition for all families who are deemed by their pastors as contributing members of a Catholic parish.  The definition of a “contributing member” is left for each individual parish and pastor to determine.  About 95% of our families receive this kind of financial support as a result of their affiliation with their parish.  The end result is a tuition that is lowered by approximately $1,300 per student for each member of a contributing member. 

In addition to this extraordinary financial support of our parishes, the offering of need-based tuition assistance is the most common form of financial aid at Roncalli.  In the 2009-2010 school year, Roncalli will distribute over $760,000 in need-based tuition assistance to qualifying families.  In the current year, 276 applicants received assistance representing 24.7% of our student body.  In order to be eligible for financial assistance a family must be a supporting member of a Catholic parish or the student must have attended Catholic schools for a minimum of three years.   

The amount of assistance a family qualifies for is determined by a family’s unique circumstances as reflected in the application process which is filed with a company we use called Private School Aid Service.  The application process involves filling out a three page questionnaire and submitting the application along with a family’s tax returns.  This information is reviewed by a committee of five people including myself. Other than that, it is totally confidential. The amount of aid a family receives is based on factors including the parents’ and student’s income and assets, the household size, the age of the oldest parent, and the number of family members enrolled in tuition-based schools.   A family can receive a maximum award that will cover up to 80% of their tuition.  For a family with one child at Roncalli this translates into $5,800 of need-based assistance that leaves the family responsible for $1,450 in remaining tuition.  As you can well imagine, for a hypothetical Catholic family of four trying to make it on an income of $40,000, this aid is absolutely critical.  

The money for this need-based tuition assistance comes from several sources including our Annual Fund, our Walkathon, and our annual dinner and auction which we call Rebelation.  We are so grateful to our generous benefactors who support these programs.  This generosity has helped ease the burdens of parents desperate to provide their children with the high quality Catholic education available at Roncalli but find themselves in circumstances that require the help of others.

We owe a great deal of gratitude to those that came before us who established this system of funding our schools through the generous support of our parishes.  Indeed, the Catholic Church’s consistent support of families who have taken on the sacrifices required to raise children is a testimony to the God-ordained nature of the Church.  We hope that by fulfilling that tradition of support of our families during the child-rearing years that we will generate the same sort of support from our students as they grow into positions of leadership.  Just as so many of our parents benefitted from the generosity of the broader Church during their formative years, we hope that we perpetuate this cycle of care for our families in future generations.

So whether you are a member of a Catholic parish who gives at the collection, one of our many generous benefactors who support the programs listed above through your gifts, or a family paying your monthly tuition, we know that your sacrifices, combined with those of thousands of others, make possible an extraordinary experience for all of our students.  As the following pages will attest, Roncalli is one of the finest high schools in the country.  Thanks for making the work of education that happens here a reality for all of our students and families.

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