Msgr. Lafferty Tuition Foundation distributes over $1.8 million
By RENEE WEBB, Globe editor
According to Marilyn Wellman, diocesan accountant, about 2,120 students received grants through this tuition foundation for the 2012-2013 school year in this first distribution.
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 in May. The checks are sent directly to the schools and the schools apply them to the parent tuition receivable accounts.
“In September we sent the award reports to the Catholic schools to have them verify that the recipients actually enrolled,” said Wellman, who noted that in some cases award recipients do not end up enrolling in Catholic schools so those funds are returned. “Any funds that come back are used for our new student round which we are currently processing.”
Wellman said about 100 students who are new to Catholic schools will be awarded tuition grants totaling approximately $60,000 in the second round. Parents will soon be notified of these grants and schools will receive checks for the second distribution in November.
While the state requires that 90 percent of the funds be distributed, she said the Msgr. Lafferty Tuition Foundation Board always tries to give even more. This year they estimate about 95 percent will be awarded between the two distribution rounds – totaling more than $1.85 million in tuition assistance.
“This is such a good program,” Wellman said. “It allows students to attend who possibly couldn’t before this program.”
Thanks to the 2006 Educational Opportunities Act, nonpublic schools were allowed to establish student tuition organizations (STOs) that offer huge tax incentives for contributions. Persons who have an Iowa tax liability may receive a 65 percent tax credit on contributions made to the fund and then additional federal deductions usually apply. With this act came stipulations/requirements for students who qualify to receive these funds: household income cannot exceed three times the poverty level.
“Income eligibility is the very first thing our third party administrator looks at and from there they calculate need,” said Wellman, who added that the tuition rate is taken into consideration when need is calculated.
Fundraising efforts for this year’s Msgr. Lafferty Tuition Foundation campaign are underway and will continue until all tax credits are distributed. Funds now being raised will be used for tuition grants in the 2013-2014 school year.
The allowable tax credits for distribution have been increased for the current campaign and that means about $2 million will be available for tuition grants next school year.
Those interested in contributing shouldn’t wait too long however, as diocesan officials predict that this year’s goal could be reached early.
Kristie Arlt, diocesan director of communications and stewardship, pointed out that last year’s goal was reached by Nov. 15.
“Every year we see people give earlier and earlier,” she said. “I am advising people to consider giving their gift in October to be on the safe side.” Last year $200,000 had to be turned away.
As of Oct. 15, more than $972,000 has been raised of the $2.2 million goal this year.
Besides the overall diocesan goal for the Msgr. Lafferty Tuition Foundation, an individual goal and tax credit allocation was set for each of the diocesan Catholic schools based on student enrollment. When a gift is made, 90 percent is credited to the school goal and the remaining 10 percent is reserved for unrestricted gifts to be used in schools with the greatest needs. Thus far, one school has met its goal.
If you are interested in making a contribution, you can contact your local Catholic school. You can also make a donation online at www.scdiocese.org. Click on the development tab and pull down to Msgr. Lafferty Tuition Foundation or go to your local school’s website.
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