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Top 8 Considerations when Setting Catholic School Tuition

Top 8 Considerations when Setting Catholic School Tuition

By Mary Stange – Client Advisor
St. Joseph Financial Services

Calculating Next Year’s Tuition

As a Catholic School it is important to proactively calculate tuition increases for each school year. As you are aware, public schools receive local, state and federal funding. Catholic Schools across the nation are primarily supported by tuition and fundraising. It is essential to dedicate an entire finance council session to setting tuition for the next school year. Most councils will meet to discuss tuition sometime by the end of January. Here are our top eight considerations we’d encourage you to use in that calculation. Our goal is to help you identify the cost to educate and make a plan to meet that cost in the next school year.

Current Year Considerations

1. Current Gross Tuition
Gross Tuition would be the most you charge a student for tuition. When looking into the net of tuition, you need to take the discounts and scholarships into consideration.

2. Current Discounts or Scholarships
Just because your tuition increases, does not mean that the need for discounts and scholarships will change. People will still have the need for assistance. So it is important to take this into consideration across the board. Start at the front end. This helps to calculate the Net Collectible Tuition.

3. Current Salaries and Benefits
Since Catholic schools do not receive local, state or federal funding it is important to capture the current salaries and benefits when calculating tuition increases. For a lot of schools, the benefit packages can form a hefty portion of their budget. Employer paid health insurance contributions and retirement benefit employer matches are of particular note here.

4. Total School Expenses
This line item takes all other expenses into consideration when calculating the amount of money it takes to successfully provide Catholic education. This should include expenses to fundraise as well as the cost for insuring the school itself.

Considerations for Next Year

5. Projected enrollment for next year
The national average for Catholic School Enrollment year-over-year is a decrease of 5-8%. It is important to make any projection for the next year’s income and expenses as accurate as you can. However, if you are proactively marketing your early education programs and you know that you will have a full kindergarten next year, you may feel comfortable adjusting the national average to suit your specific situation.

6. Salary and Benefit Increases for next year
It is important to set goals for your salaries and benefits as well. Making yourself a competitive employer will attract and retain the best staff. For instance, most Catholic schools offer a specific percentage of what is offered to teachers at the public schools. Public schools publish their salary increase information every year. We will focus an entire post on setting salaries as well. Take into consideration the increases you are aware of right now when you’re calculating the cost for tuition in the next school year.

7. Specific adjustments for your school
If you received a specific grant in this school year, or know that you will receive one next year, it’s important to consider these when calculating tuition. Likewise, if you had additional one-time costs during this year that won’t be present next year, it’s worth considering. The final question we would pose in this section is whether you’d like to plan ahead for a surplus, in which case you would want to add that into your calculations. Not every school would be ready to take this last step of planning for a surplus, especially for schools who know they will lose funding year over year.

8. Recommended tuition increase to cover projected increases across the board.
Armed with this information, you are prepared to make an intelligent evidence based decision in setting next year’s tuition. It is advisable to visit this process annually and to proactively cultivate a system that works for your school with the help of the resources at your disposal. Your administrative staff and your finance counsel are key players in this conversation.


Did you know that St. Joseph Financial Services offers a Free Tuition Calculator? This Tuition Calculator also comes with a free 15 minute tutorial, given by our CEO, Jonathan Boulos. See what it is like to have the power of leading approachable technology at your back. Should you have any specific questions, don’t hesitate to contact us, we’re here to enable your mission.