The Archdiocese of New Orleans is seeking additional corporate and individual donors to a state program that provides tuition assistance for children from low-income families to attend Catholic schools, said Peter Quirk, archdiocesan development director.
Quirk said the program – called the State of Louisiana Tuition Donation Rebate Program (TDR) – has had amazing results, last year helping 750 children attend 49 Catholic elementary and secondary schools by providing tuition assistance.
This year, there are 653 children registered in the program to attend 49 Catholic schools, but the archdiocese is searching for additional funds due to the loss of a major corporate sponsor, First NBC. Quirk said Gulf Coast Bank, headed by Guy Williams, has been “a terrific and generous” donor.
“We need to raise about $3 million to pay for the tuition support, and so far we have about $2.4 million committed,” Quirk said. “This is a wonderful example of school choice. We’re trying to give economically disadvantaged kids an opportunity to go to Catholic schools. We’ve got families whose kids were in the program last year who are not funded this year yet, and school is starting soon. Those parents need to know what’s going on. We want to keep every one of those kids in Catholic schools.”
Track record of success
TDR was established by the state in 2012 and funded by private donors – businesses and individuals. The donors, which include the Archdiocese of New Orleans, donate the money to the state and then receive 95 percent of that donation back in the summer following the current academic year.
In other words, if a donor contributes $10,000 to the TDR program, the donor would receive a $9,500 check back from the state the following summer. The 5-percent difference defrays the administrative costs to the private organizations running the program.
The 2017-18 academic year will be the final year in which a cash rebate will be made to donors. Beginning Jan. 1, 2018 – for the 2018-19 academic year – donors will receive a tax credit rather than a cash rebate, Quirk said.
The deadline has passed to apply for the TDR program for the 2017-18 academic year, but applications for 2018-19 will open again next January. The tuition rebates are significant: $4,707 for high school students and $4,184 for elementary students.
That is close to full tuition for Catholic elementary school students and about half the tuition for Catholic high school students. The program make sense for the state, Catholic schools officials said, because the amount of the rebate is substantially less than it costs to educate a child in public school, which saves the state money.
Quirk said banks and individuals are interested in the program because it helps make Catholic schools affordable and has a track record of success. Families also are allowed to select their choice of Catholic school.
“There’s no question that we keep hearing from parents and grandparents how much they appreciate Catholic schools,” Quirk said. “Some of these kids are Catholic but many are non-Catholic. But parents know that their kids are getting formed in Christianity. It’s not just an education of the mind. That’s the beauty of Catholic schools. Parents are seeing that their kids are more interested in helping and serving others.”
Eligibility for TDR
To be eligible for the TDR program, students must:
™凸Have a household income not exceeding 250 percent of federal poverty guidelines;
™凸Live in Louisiana;
™凸Have attended a Louisiana public school from Oct. 1-Feb. 1 of the most recent school year;
™Be entering kindergarten for the first time or have participated in the Louisiana Scholarship Program (voucher) or TDR program for the previous year.
Two organizations are approved by the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to administer the program in the archdiocese.
How to apply
Applications are made to either of the two School Tuition Organizations – ACE Scholarships Louisiana and Arete Scholars Louisiana – which provide parents with a list of participating schools approved by BESE.
Schools accepting students through TDR can impose admission standards.
Parents may call the Office of Catholic Schools at 861-6258 beginning in January 2018 for details on the application process. Families normally are notified in mid-June if eligible for the TDR program.
Individuals or businesses interested in contributing to the TDR program can contact Quirk at 596-3063.
Parents can access more information about the program at https://www.louisianabe lieves.com/schools/tuition-donation-rebate-program. They can also call Ingrid Fields, associate superintendent, at 861-6225.There are 19 Catholic high schools who have students in the TDR program. They are: Academy of Our Lady, Archbishop Chapelle, Archbishop Hannan, Archbishop Rummel, Archbishop Shaw, Cabrini, De La Salle, Holy Cross, Holy Rosary, Jesuit, Mount Carmel, Pope John Paul II, St. Augustine, St. Charles Catholic, St. Katharine Drexel, St. Mary’s Academy, St. Mary’s Dominican, St. Scholastica and Ursuline.
The 43 elementary schools are Annunciation, Ascension of Our Lord, Christ the King, Good Shepherd, Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Divine Providence, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Belle Chasse and Kenner), Our Lady of Prompt Succor (Chalmette and Westwego), Sacred Heart (Norco), St. Angela Merici, St. Anthony (Gretna), St. Benilde, St. Christopher the Martyr, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Joan of Arc (LaPlace and New Orleans), St. Leo the Great, St. Louis King of France, St. Margaret Mary, St. Mary Magdalen, St. Peter Claver, St. Peter (Reserve), St. Rita (Harahan and New Orleans), St. Rosalie and Visitation of Our Lady.