MAGNOLIA – Tuition at St. Thomas More Academy has been slashed as much as 32 percent for the 2018-19 school year as a new, four-tiered tuition scale goes into effect.
Parishioners of Holy Cross Church in Dover will pay $8,000 for a child to attend St. Thomas More, a reduction of $3,725, or 32 percent, from the current across-the-board tuition of $11,725. Parishioners of other Catholic churches will pay $8,500; non-Catholic students who attended a Catholic elementary school before going to STMA, $8,700; and all others, $10,725 (down 8.5 percent).
“We decided to make Catholic secondary education more appealing and more in the grasp of Catholic families,” said Father James Lentini, Holy Cross pastor and a former STMA principal and chaplain.
“The core idea is, what is the most responsible and reasonable cost we could present to parents to have their children continue in Catholic education.”
STMA came under the auspices of Holy Cross Parish last summer under an agreement between the Diocese of Wilmington and Holy Cross. It maintains a separate budget and receives no parish subsidy, Father Lentini said.
Tuition will remain the same as this year at Holy Cross School, which serves children from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, he said. Base tuition for Holy Cross School is $6,171 for one child; discounts are available for parishioners of Holy Cross, parishioners of other Catholic churches, multiple children attending Holy Cross, and families with children at Holy Cross and at a Catholic high school.
The new St. Thomas More tuition rates have sparked increased interest in the school, but Father Lentini said it is too early to determine how that interest will affect enrollment.
The change was made possible by “various savings, staffing adjustments and other areas of financial focus,” he said. A major concern was to ensure that the quality of education was not sacrificed.
Even at the tuition rate for this school year, St. Thomas More had the third lowest tuition among the eight Catholic secondary schools in Delaware and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, according to the various schools’ websites. Its tuition is within $55 of two other parish-based high schools whose tuitions are slightly lower: Ss. Peter and Paul High School in Easton, $11,670 for parishioners (non-parishioners pay $13,135), and St. Elizabeth High School in Wilmington, $11,700.
Parents of two current students welcomed the reductions.
“It definitely helps ease the financial burden, takes some of the pressure off,” said Rich Kosior, whose daughter, Maggie, is a sophomore at St. Thomas More. One of his two sons, Michael, graduated from St. Thomas More last spring; the other, Nicholas, is in fifth grade at Holy Cross.
“It encourages other parents to give St. Thomas More a closer look,” said Kosior, a Holy Cross parishioner. “I think most Catholic parents do consider it [Catholic secondary education] but for many, it’s just cost prohibitive.”
“Reducing [the tuition] rate makes it more affordable.”
Even with the new tuition rate, he said sending a child to Catholic schools remains a sacrifice.
Kim Hughes, whose daughter, Logan, is a junior at STMA, was pleasantly surprised by the reduction, which she said would be “extremely beneficial to my family.”
The single parent wanted Logan to have a Catholic education. “I firmly believe that the education my daughter has received at both Holy Cross and St. Thomas More is exceptional, and I am truly thankful I was able to send her to both schools.”
Hughes, also a Holy Cross parishioner, said Catholic secondary school tuition, as a rule, seems to be roughly double that of Catholic elementary schools. At St. Thomas More, for example, the current school year’s tuition of $11,725 is almost double Holy Cross’s tuition of $6,171.
“Knowing that an affordable education is an option, families will have an easier time making that decision,” she said.