High schools see rising costs


By Elizabeth Lowe and
George P. Matysek Jr.

elowe@CatholicReview.org and

Mary Ann Hultquist has three priorities: paying the mortgage, putting food on the table and footing the bill for her children’s Catholic education.

The new tuition guarantee program at The Catholic High School of Baltimore makes her third objective easier. The plan freezes the tuition rate for four years for incoming freshmen and classes that follow.

Hultquist’s daughter Abby is an incoming freshman at the all-girls school in East Baltimore. Her two sons are graduates of Calvert Hall College High School
in Towson.

“My husband lost his job three years ago; we’re still not back by any means,” Hultquist said. “To have this offered to us and to know where it’s coming from for the next four years is a tremendous blessing. Every year I just held my breath and I knew that somehow God got us through and he wasn’t going to let us down.”

Catholic High, which announced the new policy in January, is the first school in the Archdiocese of Baltimore with
the offering.

Tuition is an ongoing challenge for schools and parents alike, with leaders working to keep education affordable.

According to an analysis by the Catholic Review, tuition and fees at Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of Baltimore have risen nearly $700 or 5.89 percent from last year to an average of $12,365
in 2012-2013.

Of the 20 Catholic secondary institutions in the archdiocese, 19 increased their tuition for the upcoming school year.

George Andrews Jr., president of Mount St. Joseph High School, Irvington, said school leaders try to be sensitive to how cost increases affect families.

“We’ve increased financial aid at a greater percentage than we increased the tuition,” said Andrews, noting that tuition at Mount St. Joseph is $12,400 – up from $11,800 the previous year.

“We have a very dedicated group of alumni and friends who contribute greatly to keep Xaverian education affordable and our annual funds have improved very significantly,” Andrews said.

Tuition is used to help pay for salaries and benefits, he said.

“One of the big challenges for any Catholic school in the country is the increase in medical costs,” he said.

Approximately 75 percent of the budget at The John Carroll School is devoted to salaries and benefits, according to Richard J. O’Hara, the Bel Air school’s president. Tuition covers 92 percent of expenses, he said.

“We established a strategic financial plan at the board level that takes us five to seven years out,” he said. “Year to year, we take into account what’s going to advance that strategic plan in terms of what programs need to be enhanced. We look at enrollment targets, compensation and capital needs (in setting tuition).”

Tuition at John Carroll, where approximately 35 percent of students receive financial aid, is $14,250 – a 4 percent increase from the previous year.

At Catholic High, Barbara Nazelrod, president of Catholic High, said her school will continue to offer scholarships and financial aid to students. Current students saw an increase in the cost of tuition from the previous year, she said, but the rate will remain the same for the remainder of their schooling. Catholic High’s tuition for incoming freshmen
is $11,300.

Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Fells Point, which has a sliding scale for tuition, was the only school to keep its tuition
the same.

Tuition at Cristo Rey is low because of a corporate internship program that helps students pay for their education. Fundraising and scholarships also keep tuition affordable, said Jesuit Father John W. Swope, president.

“We’re able to welcome students who can afford only that,” Father Swope said. “There’s an income cap for our families.”

On average, a family contribution is $850. Families may as much
as $2,500.

 Copyright (c) Aug. 22, 2012 CatholicReview.org



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