Catholic schools to receive Msgr. Lafferty distribution checks
By RENEE WEBB, Globe editor
The checks are in the mail.
Checks totaling more than $1.7 million were just sent out to diocesan Catholic schools. These funds represent dollars distributed as student tuition grants to Catholic families through the Msgr. Lafferty Tuition Foundation.
According to Marilyn Wellman, diocesan accountant, over 2,150 students received grants through this tuition foundation for the 2011-2012 school year.
She pointed out that these funds were awarded last spring and families had learned what assistance their children would receive for the current school year by mid-May. Schools were also notified last May as to how much assistance their students would receive for this school year but money is not sent out until the fall in order to verify that the students are enrolled in the Catholic schools.
“We always verify enrollment because history has shown us that some of our Msgr. Lafferty recipients end up not enrolling in the fall,” Wellman noted. “When that happens, the funds come back to the Msgr. Lafferty Tuition Foundation and we use that money to fund the new family distribution round that we are currently processing.”
Wellman pointed out that the minimum financial grant is $250 and grants cannot exceed 75 percent of tuition. For example, if tuition is $1,000 then the grant cannot be more than $750.
Cindy Edge, principal at St. Mary School in Humboldt, said that the Msgr. Lafferty Tuition Foundation has benefitted her school a great deal.
“This current school year we have 49 children from 32 families that are receiving $31,600 in tuition assistance,” she said. “Over the five years that the program has provided assistance, St. Mary School families have received $111,365 in tuition assistance.”
As an administrator Edge has seen how the fund helps the school as a whole, but added she has been able to witness the smaller, more personal stories as well. For instance, the principal has seen first-hand the relief on a mother’s face when she learned they will receive tuition assistance and therefore be able to keep her children in Catholic schools.
Kristy Liechti, principal at Danbury Catholic, described the timeliness of the Msgr. Lafferty allocations as a real saver for small Catholic schools.
“Allowing new families to be able to apply Msgr. Lafferty for students enrolling in the fall is also a big perk for schools also because it doesn’t limit parents, families to the spring application only ,” she said.
Within a month, a second round of grants will be awarded to families new to the diocesan Catholic schools. New families had until Sept. 30 to apply for tuition assistance and these applications are now being reviewed by a third party administrator, Private School Aid Service (PSAS). PSAS will determine if the families meet the income eligibility requirements and then the amount of the awards.
It is anticipated that there are potentially another 100 students who are new to Catholic schools could receive tuition grants through the second distribution.
“We have a goal to award 93 percent of our revenue from the previous year. The state requires 90 percent,” noted Wellman. “But we like to get as much of our revenue back to the families as possible.”
Fundraising efforts for STO funds for the 2012-2013 school year are underway and will continue until all tax credits are distributed. But those interested in contributing shouldn’t wait too long as diocesan officials predict that this year’s goal could be reached by late November.
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