Why are tuition rates increasing for the 2017-2018 academic year?
The tuition rates are being adjusted to help offset increased operational expenses in the system. Some of the main factors that have impacted annual expenses include:
SMSA has invested a great deal into the new amenities of the building including library, classrooms, new gym/equipment, labs, playground, chapel and more. Additionally, there are added utilities costs for our now, 200,000 square foot building and maintenance of the larger campus grounds.
SMSA has made significant investments into technology, both in the way of hardware (new mobile devices) as well as software that supports and enhances teaching and learning, each of which requires an annual licensing and maintenance fee. This includes programs like Microsoft suite, Moby Max, Social Studies Interactive, Scholastic Math Inventory, Scholastic Reading Inventory and more.
SMSA has been gradually and consistently making adjustments to curriculum, including our new Math Expressions curriculum as well as the introduction of Project Lead the Way. The addition of new textbooks, online tools, and consumables for our classrooms has added extra annual costs to our bottom line. Additionally, SMSA has added Student Services resources in the way of staffing and curriculum, which aids in both curricular enrichment and intervention for all students.
SMSA places great value in our 117 staff members--they are the core of our school community. The health insurance rates for SMSA have gone up nearly 40% in the last two years (despite vetting additional options), and we’ve begun making adjustments to our faculty salary scale due to the findings of our Faculty Compensation Study. The recruitment and retention of educators is vital to the ongoing success of our SMSA community.
In doing research regionally, these new SMSA rates are still very much in line with other schools throughout the area.
What is covered in the tuition amount?
Tuition for your child(ren) includes their academic education, extracurricular activities, field trips, club fees, workbooks and textbooks, etc. Please note that tuition is meant to offset, not completely cover, the complete cost to educate (roughly $10,000 per student). The gap (or difference between cost to educate and tuition) is offset by parish subsidies and annual fundraising.
Why are changes being made to the multi-child discount?
In researching other area schools offering multi-child discount, it became evident that SMSA has been offering a very generous rate. Most schools researched offered a flat (not percentage based) discount--some as low as $50/student. SMSA has adjusted our multi-child discount rate, so they more closely align with other regional schools. However, our multi-child discount, now $300 for grade/middle school students and $400 for high school students, is still a far greater savings than other “like schools.”
What changes are being made to the Early Childhood (Pre3 and 4K) and Childcare programs?
In reviewing the usage of our Childcare Center over the past several months, SMSA determined that there were several changes that needed to be made to ensure that the program is financially viable, while still a) meeting the needs of our parents/families and b) meeting the desired outcomes of our Early Childhood programming. As a result of this analysis, SMSA has decided to make the following changes:
Elimination of summer Childcare program. Numbers have steadily declined over the past several years, and as a result, the program is no longer sustainable.
Elimination of Childcare for children not enrolled in classes at SMSA. Traditionally, SMSA has offered Childcare to children ages 2.5, even if they are not enrolled in any other programming. With a relatively small number of children serviced at this age level (currently 3 students), and the staffing requirements to service them, the program is no longer sustainable.
Replacing afternoon wrap-around Childcare (for Pre3 and 4K programming) with Pre3/4K Enrichment Programming. Our Early Childhood Programs (Pre3 and 4K) provide an excellent foundation for student learning. The Enrichment program, which is already being offered, will now be extended to families seeking wrap-around care for their children, and serves as an extension of their morning classroom. The afternoon Enrichment program provides interactive play and station-based learning, allowing kids to experience learning in a Montessori style setting.
Those parents who rely on wrap-around services in the afternoon, will not see much change, other than a more “formal” afternoon program. The cost of the afternoon Enrichment program is actually less expensive than a full time (M-F, 11a - 3p) hourly Childcare rate at both SMSA and other regional Childcare centers.
This does, however, mean that parents who were seeking drop-in, or infrequent afternoon services, will either need to enroll in the Enrichment program or seek alternative afternoon childcare.
3-year-old Preschool (Pre3), will only be offered M-F. In the past, SMSA has offered this programming as a 2, 3 or 5 day option. Given the difficulty to determine staffing support with this many options, and given that a majority of families have been selecting the 5-day option, we have decided to just offer Pre3 as a 5-day a week program in the mornings.
Before and Afterschool Childcare will still be available. We recognize that this service is essential in making the busy schedules of our families work. Therefore, we will continue offering Childcare before and after school for children enrolled at SMSA. The mornings will be offered M-F from 6:30a - 8:00a (or start of academic day) and 3:00p (or end of school day) - 6:00p. Additionally, this service will also be made available on scheduled inservice days (both half days and full days).
Am I eligible for more financial aid because my tuition went up from last year?
St. Mary’s Springs Academy strives to ensure that no family is denied an opportunity for a Catholic education due to financial circumstances. Please visit our Tuition Assistance and Scholarships webpage for information on how to apply. Our need-based assistance is offered without regard to race, color, nationality, religious affiliation or ethnic origin. The program exists to help ensure that any of our admitted students with demonstrated need will have the opportunity to attend our school. While our funding is limited, we do our best to make a Catholic education available to as many families as possible.
Is it too late to apply for tuition assistance? How do I know if I’ll qualify?
No, it is not too late to apply! You can get the process started by going to www.smsacademy.org/financialaid.cfm. We use TADS, a third party provider that allows SMSA to estimate each family’s ability to pay tuition. This also enables us to keep your personal information confidential and award decisions fairly and objectively. Many factors contribute to the calculation that TADS uses to assess the applications including income, assets, number of dependents, medical costs, and personal debt. Therefore, it is impossible for us to know who would qualify or at what level. We encourage families to apply—it only costs $34 per family and is well worth going through the process to find out if you can receive assistance affording an SMSA education for your family.
We have had a change in financial circumstance and it’s mid-way through the academic year. What can we do about our tuition payments?
If you haven’t already applied for financial aid, that would be the first step. We process applications year round and are able to provide assistance for situations such as job loss, divorce, medical emergencies, etc. If you had already applied for and received aid, get in touch with our business office to let us know what’s changed. We can re-evaluate your financial aid application or try to work some flexibility into your payment plan to keep things affordable during your time of uncertainty.
When will I receive my first tuition bill?
Tuition invoices are mailed out in mid-June and the first payment is due July 15th. For registrations received after mid-June, the invoice will be mailed within a week and the first payment is due in 30 days.
What options do I have for paying the tuition?
SMSA offers our families four payment plan options:
Pay in Full – Cash – the entire balance is due on July 15th. For any families registering after July 15th, we allow 30 days from the registration date to pay in full or choose a payment plan.
Pay in Full – Credit Card – the entire balance is due on July 15th. We add a processing fee of 3% to the balance which covers the processing fee.
SMSA Payment Plan – After paying a 25% down payment by July 15th, a 5.5% maintenance fee is added to the balance. We will arrange eight (8) monthly payments to be made via direct checking or savings account withdrawals, beginning August 15th and continuing through March 15th.
National Exchange Bank Loan Program – Families can elect to take out a loan with National Exchange Bank to pay tuition. Payments begin August 1st and continue through May 1st.
What happens if I default on or do not choose a payment plan?
According to SMSA policy, the following steps will be taken once an account is not current or communication has stopped. A record will be kept of all of the following actions.
A member of the Business Office will contact the family and attempt to collect the amount due.
A letter from the Director of Business Operations will be sent to the family requesting payment.
SMSA may withhold participation in extra-curricular activities.
SMSA may suspend the student at the close of the current semester.
SMSA may send the balance to collections.
Can I deduct the cost of tuition on my tax return?
YES! The State of Wisconsin introduced the Wisconsin Private School Tuition deduction for the tax year 2014. You can deduct up to $4,000 per student for Kindergarten through 8th grade and up to $10,000 per student for grades 9 through 12, for tuition paid in the calendar year.
Is SMSA still participating in the School Choice Program? How do I apply?
Yes! The application window is from Feb. 1 - April 20. To learn more about whether or not you meet the eligibility requirements visit www.smsacademy.org/schoolchoice.cfm. NOTE: If your child is currently enrolled at SMSA, they are only eligible to receive a voucher if they are entering into 4K, Kindergarten, 1st grade or 9th grade in 2017-2018. If your child is not currently enrolled at SMSA, and you are coming from public school, you are eligible to receive a voucher at any grade level, 4K-12.