For many parents, Catholic school tuition requires years of financial sacrifice, but, the investment pays off in more ways than one. In addition to rigorous academic instruction and spiritual formation, many Catholic students also receive scholarship money, to date totaling at least $29 million in scholarships and aid across the five diocesan high schools.
“Parents are paying, in many cases, a lot of money for this opportunity, this gift of a Catholic education because they know the value of it,” said Henry Fortier, Superintendent of Catholic Schools. “Even though our schools offer scholarship and tuition assistance, parents sacrifice for this. And they resoundingly talk about how much the Catholic faith has meant to them, how this faith-based education has been a gift to their child, how they are just so happy with what they’ve received from their schools.”
Susan Riebsame is the Director of Guidance at Melbourne Central Catholic High School and the mother of Karen Riebsame, an MCC graduate who will be attending Berry College in Georgia with more than $17,000 in Merit Based Scholarship Aid and a guaranteed work study worth an additional $3,700 per year. For her family, a Catholic education has always been a worthwhile investment.
“Since my husband and I are both products of Catholic education, it was always the choice for our children. Having them achieve scholarships is helpful, but was not the main goal,” Susan said. “I think the resources available in a small school, the mentoring from teachers, and the friendships my children have developed while attending MCC are worth their weight in gold.”
Karen said that she learned “hard work and perseverance” while at Melbourne Central Catholic. “Catholic education built a solid learning foundation for me by encouraging me to pursue my interests and succeed in my endeavors,” she said. “This has allowed me to become the knowledgeable young woman I am today and provided me the confidence to enter the college world without trepidation.”
Michelle Ortiz, a Santa Fe Catholic High School graduate who will be attending Washington & Jefferson College in Pennsylvania this fall, received a Scholar Award in the amount of $14,000 per year in addition to a W&J College Grant for $9,990. She credits her Catholic education for making her well-prepared for college.
“In learning about my faith and God’s message, I was able to strive to do the best I can academically in order to apply meaning to my future,” she said. “I want to do the best I possibly can in order to fulfill God’s mission in college and the work field.”
Fortier noted that the majority of Catholic school scholarship recipients in the diocese have received these funds due to their academic standing. “It’s what we do in our institutions that prepare them for the next phase of life,” he said. “It’s the faith-based education that inspires them, teaches them that everything they do is a gift back to God.”
Approximate scholarship dollars earned by the Class of 2012 at diocesan Catholic High Schools*
- Bishop Moore Catholic High School, Orlando: $15.3 million for 226 out of 288 graduates
- Father Lopez Catholic High School, Daytona Beach: $2.8 million for 27 out of 67 graduates
- Melbourne Central Catholic High School, Melbourne: $4.6 million for 75 out of 95 graduates
- Santa Fe Catholic High School, Lakeland: $1.5 million for 43 out 58 graduates
- Trinity Catholic High School, Ocala: $5 million for a total of 85 out of 130 students
*Total scholarships/aid reported and calculated as of June 5