The Catholic Education Foundation (CEF) is launching a new effort to bridge the financial
gap between the need for tuition assistance and the funds available to meet that need.
Last year the CEF provided $1.3 million to families of about 1,400 students who asked for financial assistance to pay the Catholic school tuition. But the third-party organization which examines need requests and determines the amount of funds awarded to each family has noted that need far surpasses the available funds.
Private School Aid Service, the third party firm, says local families need about $4.7 million in tuition assistance, according to Rosemary Bisig Smith, the CEF executive director. In other words, the efforts of the CEF, laudable as they are, aren’t meeting half of the tuition assistance need.
That’s why the foundation has launched a new effort, Smith said in a recent interview. It’s called “The Annual Fund,” and it is a direct appeal to all the parishes in the 24-county Archdiocese of Louisville to
help raise funds for tuition assistance.
“We’re reaching out to parishes to help us bridge the gap between the need we have for tuition assistance and the funds now available to help,” she explained. “The gap we have is tremendous and we need help in filling it.”
Money contributed to “The Annual Fund” will be used for tuition assistance alone, Smith noted.
“In the past we’ve helped with technology, teaching assistance, professional development and religious education,” she explained, “but this effort, ‘The Annual Fund,’ is for tuition assistance only.”
Since its inception in 1999, the CEF has awarded $15 million in scholarships and grants to parishes and schools, Smith noted.
Representatives of the CEF have visited all nine principals of area Catholic high schools and told them about the new effort.
“And they all support what we’re trying to do,” said Smith. “They realize that strong elementary schools lead to strong high schools, and they know how important tuition assistance is to families who want to send their children to Catholic schools.”
Parishes have been asked to respond to ‘The Annual Fund’ effort in one of four ways: They can become “active participants;” they can undertake “prayer participation;” they can defer their decision; or they can decline participation.
Nearly a dozen parishes have decided to become “active participants” in the effort so far. Another two dozen are offering prayerful support while about two dozen have deferred their decisions.
“We’re grateful to all forms of support we receive,” Smith said.
The CEF leadership has chosen not to set a specific financial goal, Smith noted.
“We know how much unmet need we have, though, so we can say our goal is to meet that need,” she said. “We want to be able to say that we have tuition assistance available to any parent who wants to send their child to Catholic schools and can’t afford it.”
Smith also said it’s important for parents to remember that everyone can apply for tuition assistance.
“If you’re trying to send your child to Catholic schools, you can apply,” she said. “All you need to do is visit our web site at ceflou.org and download the application form.”