Families applying for tuition assistance through the Diocese’s Neumann Scholarship Foundation for the 2020-2021 school year are being advised of a new application deadline, March 1.
In previous years, the deadline was April 15, coinciding with the tax deadline. Pennsylvania law requires the most recent tax return to determine a family’s qualification for the scholarships, made possible through the state’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Program.
The March 1 deadline allows the schools and the Neumann Scholarship Foundation to receive families’ information in a more timely fashion, and subsequently offers parents more time to make a decision about their enrollment or re-enrollment in a Catholic school.
With the advance deadline, families will be asked to provide their most recent tax return and a W-2 for the taxes they’ll file this spring.
Daniel Breen, Diocesan Secretary for Education and Superintendent of Schools, said the decision to change the deadline for the Neumann application was made after consultation with school officials, who wanted to “give our families a timeframe that works for them for enrollment, and to know the financial picture well in advance of the following school year.”
Breen emphasized that the March 1 deadline maximizes a family’s ability to receive a scholarship for the 2020-2021 academic year. After the deadline, funds will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis, based on the school.
The Diocese’s Neumann Scholarship Foundation administers funds generated by the EITC program for tuition assistance. Each year, the foundation gives $3.5-$4 million in scholarships for students attending a Catholic school in the Diocese.
In addition to the new deadline, a second change to the Neumann program is that school officials will have increased involvement in awarding scholarships.
Previously, Neumann scholarships were awarded at the Diocesan level in consultation with the schools. Given that school personnel know their families and family situations, and also have additional sources of funding from other scholarship programs, they will now have more discretion in awarding the scholarships.
“The schools can now write one letter to a family with the full amount of their tuition and all scholarships and assistance, in a more clear and concise manner that shows the family their full picture,” Breen said.
The goal of the changes to the Neumann Scholarship Program is simple: to help families with tuition assistance so that cost is not a roadblock to Catholic education.
“In our Catholic schools, accessibility is a value that we hold very dearly. We want every family that wants a Catholic school education for their children to be able to have it,” Breen said. “We work very hard with every family. A longstanding concern for us has been to make tuition affordable and to keep families in our schools. Financial resources are available. We don’t ever want money to stop a family from enrolling in our schools.”
“We hope and pray that the adjustments we’ve made to the Neumann Scholarship Foundation will help meet more families’ financial needs as best we can,” he said.
(Contact your school for application information. For more information about the Neumann Scholarship Program and business participation, visit www.hbgdiocese.org/catholic-schools/nsf.)
By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness