The Diocese of Little Rock in Arkansas is asking parishioners to contribute funding to cover the scholarship gap of almost $500,000.
Diocese Pleads for Scholarship Donations
The Arkansas Catholic reported that the Diocese of Little Rock is holding the ninth Catholic Schools Scholarship Appeal on Nov. 12 to 13 to raise funds for scholarship grants in the diocesan schools.
The yearly scholarship appeal aims to gather money to provide financial aid to families who cannot cover their children's studies in Catholic schools.
"Today our Catholic schools face financial challenges, which include decreases in parish subsidies, increased need for fundraising and a greater need for financial assistance for families negatively affected by the economy. This last challenge is where you can help," the Arkansas Catholic quoted Bishop Anthony B. Taylor explaining in a statement.
The news outlet said Bishop Taylor's statement would be read following Mass in every parish under the diocese.
The ranking prelate added that Catholic schools are "integral" in the Church's "teaching mission" since these schools help parents educate and form children through faith development.'
Bishop Taylor added that Catholic educational institutions offer "a rigorous education, rooted in the Gospel, and rich in the cherished traditions and liturgical practices of our faith."
'True Cost of Catholic Education'
Marguerite Olberts, the associate superintendent of the diocese's Office of Catholic Schools, explained that the funds parishes have for school subsidies do not cover the 'true cost of Catholic education.' This is the case since incomes remain stagnant as costs shoot up.
"Tuition rates in Catholic elementary and secondary schools in Arkansas are significantly less than the actual cost of educating students in our Catholic schools," Olberts explained.
Olberts' office also revealed that parents of a Catholic student in elementary have to pay $4,147 on average compared to $5734 for a non-Catholic student. The average cost of sending a child to an elementary school in a year is $6,532.
Meanwhile, Catholic high schools typically charge Catholic students $6,498 and $7,475 for non-Catholics. However, the average yearly amount to educate a student in Arkansas' Catholic schools is $9,864.
"Generally, every child in a Catholic school is getting some assistance because they're not charging what they could. If you're a Catholic family at a Catholic school, you're generally getting even more of a discount," Olberts told Arkansas Catholic.
Huge Gap to Fill
According to Olberts, the difference between the actual cost of educating a student and the amount that diocesan schools only charge has come to $496,736 in 2022.
It is this gap that the diocese must cover to accommodate families who can not afford a Catholic education.
Through the Catholic Schools Scholarship Appeal, donors have the chance to close the gap and help families provide their children with access to Catholic education.
The funds to be raised in the appeal would go directly towards providing modern programs and infrastructure and hiring competent teachers.
"For families who desire a Catholic environment that is going to combine spirituality and education it just gets to be a hardship for some families to pay the full tuition. Having that opportunity (to receive financial aid) has made a big difference for a lot of children. It is a beautiful thing to be a part of to see those children have opportunities that their family so desperately wanted," Olberts told Arkansas Catholic.