The creation of the fund was announced at DeSales’ annual “Benefit Feast” dinner and auction held on Jan. 26. The fund has been established — and funded — by the St. Francis DeSales High School Foundation.
Interest in the $1 million fund will be used to provide tuition assistance each year, said the school’s president, Doug Strothman, last week in a telephone interview. It’s a significant step for the school to take for its future, he noted.
“At the end of the day we know it’s a numbers game,” Strothman said. “The cost of Catholic education continues to rise, and this fund provides a way to assist those families who desire a DeSales education and need help paying for it.”
The school’s recent capital campaign has provided the chance for improving facilities and technology, Strothman noted. And now the new financial aid fund will address the ever-increasing need for tuition assistance.
“We started the year with 325 students,” Strothman explained, “and about half of our families qualify for some sort of financial aid.”
Of that half, he said, 70 percent receive tuition assistance — averaging about $3,000 per student per year, he said.
“Now what we’ll do is draw down money from the dividends (of the fund) each year,” he said. “It comes nowhere near meeting the need — the need itself is well over $1 million and we only had about $300,000 to go around. And the most we award is 40 percent of what a family qualifies for.”
The new fund is a profound step in the right direction, he said.
In the past the school has used money from its operation budget to help finance tuition assistance. The new fund will provide an additional $30,000 to $50,000 for financial aid each year, Strothman said.
“It’s absolutely an important step for the future,” he added, “and represents a very significant commitment by our leadership. We sit in a market where a vast number of our families find it difficult to afford Catholic secondary education, so we want to do all we can to keep it available for families who see the value that we provide.”
A news release from DeSales High about the new fund noted that the school will seek additional contributions “to grow the principal and provide greater earnings in subsequent years.”
In addition to announcing the new financial aid fund, the school also announced that the DeSales Foundation has approved a $300,000 grant that will be used to update the school’s weight room and physical education locker space. An additional $30,000 raised at the Jan. 26 event also will be used for new technology, the release said.