For some, Catholic school conjures up images of nuns in habits, rulers in hand, ready to whack the knuckles of disobedient youths. But today, many Catholic schools have evolved, and they’re competing with private schools for parents seeking an alternative to public education for their kids.
Of course, children whose families identify as Catholic are still the majority, but non-Catholic enrollment at Catholic schools is now almost one in five students. This is up from about 11% in 1980, according to the NCEA, which means religious diversity in Catholic schools is increasing.
For practicing Catholics, there are obvious advantages to having children attend Catholic school, such as communing with other faith-based families and consolidating regular school with Sunday school. But Catholic schools offer other potential benefits, whether your family is Catholic or not.
Lower cost than other private schools
If public school isn’t the right choice for your child, but private school seems cost prohibitive, Catholic schools might be worth looking into for their price tag alone. While they generally require tuition, many Catholic schools cost less than their private counterparts.
According to the National Catholic Education Association, the average cost of Catholic elementary schools in the United States is $4,400 per year, and for Catholic high school, it’s $9,840 per year. That’s a chunk of change, but it’s considerably less than the price of private education: The average annual cost of private elementary school is $9,263 per year, and for high school, it’s $14,017, according to the Private School Review.
Even if the expense is still a concern, NCES notes that almost all Catholic schools provide some financial aid, so it’s worth exploring what kind of tuition assistance may be offered.
The single-sex option
If single-sex education is something you’re interested in for your child, Catholic schools may be one way to get there, at least when it comes to high school. Per NCEA, while the majority of Catholic elementary schools are co-ed, 30% of secondary Catholic schools are all boys or all girls.