Prior to accepting the position of Advancement Director for LCSS, I served on the finance committee of the Board of Directors. During that time, I learned a lot about the system’s budgeting process and the impact that tuition increases had on the budget, and selfishly, I would reflect on how tuition increases would impact my own family. Through this experience, I gained an appreciation and understanding of how financially conservative the LCSS budget is each year. Nevertheless, it was not until I became the Director of Advancement that I fully understood that my tuition payments only covered roughly half of what it cost to educate my four children.
So where does the rest of the money come from? I want to share with you what I have learned.
In this coming year, tuition sources – including parent payments, parish assistance, and scholarships – are expected to produce approximately $5.4 million dollars. The total cost to educate our students is budgeted at $7.2 million. The remaining $1.8 million must come from other sources.
Tuition sources cover 80% of the cost to educate. Parents pay approximately 60% of this in the form of tuition payments. Half of our student population receives some form of student aid. Student aid resources such as Choice Scholarships, Tax-Credit Scholarships, Endowed Scholarships, and Tuition Assistance provide 30% of tuition sources. Our local parishes (Blessed Sacrament, St. Ann, St. Boniface, St. Lawrence, St. Mary Cathedral, and St. Thomas) pay nearly 10% of the tuition bill for their families. In total, our parishes provide nearly one million dollars of direct cash and “in-kind” support each year. Moral of the story for me – I better be at Mass every Sunday and contribute my time, talent, and treasure to the Church!
Where does the remaining 20% come from? I refer to it as “The GAP.”
What is “The GAP”?
“The GAP” is the financial difference between what you pay in tuition or receive in financial aid and the actual cost to educate a child. As Dave Shelby, our Financial Officer says, “it’s the mortar between the bricks.” It is the non-guaranteed revenue keeping the SPIRIT strong throughout the school system. If you think of your own family budget, this is the music lesson, a sport’s or academic camp, check-up visits to the doctor, a trip to a museum, etc. As parents, can we meet our children’s needs without these? Absolutely! Do these things help our children flourish? Absolutely!
To fill “The GAP,” LCSS relies on a variety of advancement initiatives: the Blue Knight Auction, Golf Outing, Spirit Fund, fundraisers such as SCRIP, Box Tops or magazine sales, additional support from our parishes, interest payments from our four endowments, and parish “in-kind” support. Below is a breakdown of “The GAP”.
What “The GAP” personally means to me?
Understanding of “The GAP” forced me to look internally. Number one, it told me I was not covering my family’s total cost to educate. Secondly, it prompted me to make several changes I thought I would share with you.
- Instead of random offerings, my parish receives a check from our family every month.
- We joined the Central Catholic Athletic Association.
- We made our first pledge to the LCSS Spirit Fund.
- I made adjustments to my will to not only take care of my family but to leave a percentage of my estate to one of the LCSS endowments.
- I thank God daily for the blessings and gifts he has provided me.
- I have a new appreciation for the unbelievable generosity of our Lafayette Catholic School System community.
What can you do?
We all have separate value systems and give back to the Lafayette Catholic School System in different ways. I am not suggesting you make all of the changes I made. As the Director of Advancement for LCSS, it is my responsibility to do what I ask of others. I would encourage you to consider a few things to help continue the vitality of our amazing schools!
- Pray! Pray for our students. Pray for our faculty and staff. Pray for our school leaders.
- Continue to educate yourself. (If you made it this far in my blog – HIGH FIVE!)
- Get involved. (“It takes a village to raise a child!” We have just over 950 students in the system. That’s a lot of villagers. Call me if you need a suggestion on how to get involved.)