St. Joseph Catholic School (along with all Catholic schools in the Diocese of Lincoln) will embark on a systematic change in regards to tuition beginning in 2019-2020. For many years, St. Joseph Catholic School has required a minimal tuition with St. Joseph Parish subsidizing the majority of the cost of education. Beginning in 2019-2020, tuition will begin to increase, but will also begin to offer scholarships to help offset costs for those who qualify.
See the Diocese of Lincoln Announcement:
January 25, 2019
The Diocese of Lincoln is announcing a new scholarship program for Catholic Schools, beginning in the 2019-2020 school year!
In an effort to continue to build a legacy of strong, affordable Catholic education in the Diocese, the diocese will institute a new scholarship program across all Catholic schools, starting in the 2019-2020 school year. By setting tuition to a standardized minimum across our schools and offering needs-based scholarships, the Diocese can continue to offer an affordable Catholic education to any child. Over time, the benefits of this program include increasing the viability of our schools, while giving the schools the resources they need to: support low-income families, better compensate teachers and relieve some of the financial support needed from the parishes. Through the Good Shepherd Scholarship, the Diocese will balance this effort to increase the sustainability of Catholic schools with a continued commitment to provide an excellent faith-based education to students of all income levels.
The Good Shepherd Scholarship Announcement
The Lincoln Diocese is announcing the Good Shepherd Scholarship Fund, which is intended to help families with tuition assistance, based on family income, expenses and number of school children.
- Good Shepherd Scholarships Guidelines: Scholarships are available for families that are within 200% of the federal poverty level, or about 25%-30% of students in the Lincoln Diocese. (*see chart below) The approved Good Shepherd Scholarships will be paid directly to the schools, with 50% of the scholarship amount paid to the schools at the beginning of each semester.
- Good Shepherd Scholarship % of Tuition: Scholarships are available for approximately 75% of school tuition, up to the published maximum scholarship amount. The Scholarship amount will be increased in the following two years, but is still set to a maximum of 75% of local school tuition. The amount will be reviewed annually and published for the succeeding three years.
- The Good Shepherd Scholarship Amounts: The Good Shepherd Scholarship will pay up to 75% of tuition, with the maximum scholarship capped at the amounts listed below:
Minimum Tuition Announcement
These tuition changes are being made to increase the financial sustainability of our schools, to assist with increasing costs and teacher compensation, and to reduce the financial burden to parishes.
- Tuition Minimum: Starting in the 2019-2020 school year, there will be a minimum tuition amount for grade schools and high schools in the Lincoln Diocese, based on the Average Cost of Education across all schools. The minimum tuition is:
- High School: $1,700
- Grade School: $1,300
- Family Tuition Cap: In addition, a family tuition cap will be set at Lincoln Diocese Catholic Schools. A maximum of three students from any family will be charged tuition. No other children from the family will be charged tuition. The tuition cap applies to K-12 tuition only. All families are eligible for the Family Tuition Cap, regardless of income, but they must apply for it through FACTS. It does not apply to Pre-K or Nursery school/day care tuition.
Scholarship & Tuition Program Benefits
Offering a truly authentic Christ-centered education for our youth is an important mission of the Catholic Church and is paramount for our children, families and the future of our church. The Good Shepherd Scholarship and tuition minimum program is essential for ensuring that our schools will be vibrant and sustainable long into the future. The importance of this educational mission and the benefits to our children and families cannot be underestimated.
- The Good Shepherd Scholarship Fund will enable the Diocese to support families that need assistance and to help schools that serve low income families with additional financial resources.
- Catholic Schools in the Lincoln Diocese will continue to offer low tuition, which is subsidized by our parishes and donors. It will continue to be lower tuition than almost all private schools either in Nebraska or across the nation!
- Parishes can continue their current practice of offering parish-based scholarships! Which, addition to the Good Shepherd Scholarship, provides even further financial assistance their families.
- Within a 5-year timeframe, schools will begin to implement a strategy to increase teacher salaries to a range within 80% to 90% of their published local public school district teacher base salary, if they are not already there. This strategy will ensure that we offer competitive teacher salaries so our schools can continue to employ excellent educators and we will pay them a fair and just wage.
- Also, within the 5-year timeframe, parishes and schools will begin to implement a strategy designed to cap parish support to schools (assessments) to no more than 80% of parish weekly and holy day income, if they aren’t already at less than 80%. This benefits the parishes that have struggled financially to support their schools. It will help them to make investments in additional programs and resources for building a strong and vibrant faith in their communities. The mission of Catholic education is paramount, but parishes need to be able to support other important programs and mission work, as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does tuition fully cover the total cost of educating each child?
No. In the Diocese of Lincoln, tuition has always been and will continue to be very affordable for our families. Tuition only covers 25% – 45% of the cost of education. Although we are extremely frugal and resourceful, administrative costs including building maintenance, technology, salaries, insurance and curriculum resources have gone up in recent years.
What kind of expenses do the schools incur to educate a student?
Lincoln Catholic Schools have some of the lowest cost of per student education in the state of Nebraska, but we must offer competitive salaries, appropriate academic programs, technology resources, and beneficial extra- curricular activities for our students. The average cost of educating a child in Lincoln Diocese Catholic Schools ranges from $5,000 to $10,000 and averages $6,500 per year. Tuition only covers 25%-45% of this. In comparison, the public schools in Nebraska spend an average of $12,979 per student per year. (https://cdn.education.ne.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/1617AFR_PPC.pdf).
Why doesn’t the parish continue to cover the increases school expenses?
They do and the Diocese covers expenses as well. But the cost of educating a child is going up and each school is encountering higher expenses. As the expenses increase, it is not feasible for the parish to cover a greater share of the growing expenses. Currently, in some cases we have 100% of weekly/ holy day tithes/offerings going to schools from the parishes. This model simply isn’t sustainable.
How does Catholic Education affect our parishes?
Educating Catholic youth in parish and diocesan schools is the best supplement to the spiritual direction the child receives in the home and the best way to ensure vibrant parish communities. We know that each child will grow to have a vocation, whether that be married, single or religious life. Catholic schools help to foster vocations by teaching children about vocational options, as well as encouraging spiritual and academic growth. Catholic education allows parents to feel secure in that, while their children are away from the home, those children are receiving quality spiritual direction and Catholic formation, in addition to quality academic instruction. Many of our parishes would not be able to operate were it not for the number of priests and religious vocations that are formed in our diocesan and parish schools. Simply put, the better we educate our children, both spiritually and academically, the more vibrant our parishes will be.
Will families just go to other schools if tuition is raised?
Many other schools and dioceses have been through similar changes and did not lose a significant number students to other private or public schools. We are confident that the education and formation provided in the Catholic Diocese of Lincoln is of such faithfulness! and high-quality that students will not want to leave. In addition, by adding the Good Shepherd Scholarship we are confident that any student, regardless of financial status, can continue to receive a quality, Catholic education right where they are.
How do I apply for a scholarship?
Beginning in early 2019, families of K-12 students may apply for tuition assistance by completing a FACTS application online at www.goodshepherdscholarship.com. FACTS is a third-party company used to evaluate financial need. Using FACTS helps ensure the process is fair and financial data is secure and kept private.
What is the process to apply for a Good Shepherd Scholarship?
Beginning in February, applications will be accepted at www.goodshepherdscholarship.com or on your local school website. Applications are due by the end of March each year. Award letters will be sent out by the end of April and funds will be distributed to your school at the beginning of each semester, starting in August.
How will families know if a child qualified for The Good Shepherd Scholarship and/or Local Scholarships for elementary or secondary school?
Schools are notified about The Good Shepherd Scholarship Awards by April and schools will notify each family shortly thereafter. In addition, local scholarship awards will be announced within the same notification period.
Will a late application be accepted?
We have to set and maintain a deadline to ensure fair and equal access to all students. The deadline is April 15th, but late applications will be accepted this year, if necessary.
How do I receive the scholarship funds?
The Good Shepherd Scholarship checks are sent to schools at the beginning of each semester and are applied to your outstanding tuition amount, reducing what you owe. It is important to inquire at your school and parish regarding local scholarships, as well.
In addition to the Good Shepherd Scholarship what other types of financial aid are available?
- Local Parish Discounted Tuition – Local financial assistance in the form of discounted tuition comes from the parish and/or school to which families apply. This tuition assistance is available from the generous support of the local school’s parishes in the form of a discount from the true cost of educating students. The average cost to educate a student in the Lincoln Diocese is over $6,500 per student, depending on the school. All Catholic parishioners receive significantly discounted tuition.
- Local Parish and School Scholarships – In addition to discounted tuition, many schools and parishes have scholarship funds that are made available through a school’s supporting donor community. Pastors and principals try to accommodate families with a final tuition amount and payment program that can fit a family’s budget. The Diocese and school leaders recognize the sacrifices parents and relatives make to be able to afford and offer their children an excellent Catholic education.
What happens if I don’t receive a scholarship?
If you are not eligible for the Good Shepherd Scholarship Fund, but still feel that you need financial assistance, please contact your pastor or school administrator.
Is other financial support available if a family has a financial hardship?
If during the course of the school year a family is having difficulty meeting tuition payments, they should contact their parish pastor or school administrator. Financial hardship programs vary across the Diocese.
What are the eligibility requirements for the Good Shepherd Scholarship Fund?
The Good Shepherd Scholarship eligibility guidelines are based on family income, household size and tuition costs. Local school or parish scholarships may use additional criteria for scholarships, please contact your school for more information.
How is the Good Shepherd Scholarship Fund application information used?
FACTS Management will provide the Diocese of Lincoln with the name and school for each Scholarship awarded and will not require diocesan access to the application information provided by families. Based on local parish guidelines, your school does have access to the family information they need to grant local scholarships.
What are the income levels for the Good Shepherd Scholarship Fund?
The Income Guidelines will be published each year at www.goodshepherdscholarship.com, the guidelines for the 2019-2020 school year are:
How much will the Good Shepherd Scholarship Program grant to students each year?
The Good Shepherd Scholarship Fund will provide grants of $2m to $2.5m annually, to students whose families are within 200% of the nationally published Federal Poverty Level. This equates to approximately 25% to 30% of all students in Catholic Schools in the Lincoln Diocese.
How many students receive Good Shepherd Scholarships each year?
It is estimated that 1,300 to 1,500 students will receive Good Shepherd Scholarships each year.
Can Non-Catholics apply for the Good Shepherd Scholarship Fund?
Yes. Any family may apply for a scholarship whose children will be attending a Lincoln Diocese Catholic School.
How are the Good Shepherd Scholarship funds generated to pay for the scholarships?
The Good Shepherd Scholarship funds were established using the Joy of the Gospel campaign funds that were allocated to schools. In addition, new donations will be raised through the collaborative efforts of the Lincoln Diocese, local parishes, schools and the Catholic Foundation of Southern Nebraska. These donors believe in the value of Catholic education and recognize that tuition assistance is needed by many families wanting their children to attend Catholic schools. For more information about the various fundraising initiatives or to make a contribution, please visit our website at www.goodshepherdscholarship.com.
How can I help and why does the Lincoln Diocese need my support?
Each and every dollar matters. We are not a diocese that rests on the giving of a few, large donors. We count on the stewardship of our whole Catholic community to support our families and children and we need each family to give according to their means, to their schools, parishes and to the important mission work of the Christian community and the Catholic Church.