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The cost of a Catholic Education

Parents with children attending Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Sydney are now paying over $100 million per annum in fees and other school-related charges.

This contribution from their own pockets is additional to their regular tax payments, a proportion of which goes towards the education of children in all schools, whether they be government, independent or Catholic.

The statistics outlined in an Accountability Report from the Sydney Catholic Education Office to the Commonwealth Government show that parents of the 60,795 students attending 150 parish primary and regional secondary schools paid $66.3 million in fees and charges during the 2000 school year.

When the much higher fees paid by parents of students attending the 18 congregational colleges are added, estimated at $36 million, the total outlay for those who choose Catholic education for their children in the Archdiocese of Sydney is more than $100 million a year.

These contributions by parents help bridge the gap between the actual cost of schooling, and the government grants for each student attending a Catholic school. Federal and state government grants for systemic schools make up about 80 per cent of the total cost of schooling, with parent and parish contributions filling in the rest.

But even with this welcome assistance from governments, the costs parents shoulder when they choose an education that reflects the values of their faith, are substantial.

These contributions form part of a long tradition in which Catholic parents have made considerable financial sacrifices in order to exercise their right to choose a Catholic school environment for their children.

With record numbers of students attending Catholic schools around Australia (around 650,000 in 2002), many Catholic families are still keen to make that choice in the face of the additional cost burden.

However, itŐs regretful that some Catholic parents find the cost of Catholic education beyond them. Some have withdrawn their children from Catholic schools, while others donŐt even bother applying for enrolment.

Also, our market research over the years has shown that the level of fees is the largest deterrent for parents when considering sending their children to a Catholic school, despite the fact that there is an open policy stating that no Catholic family will be denied a Catholic education through inability to pay the fees.

Catholic Weekly