Date of Award

Fall October 2008

Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Shane P. Martin

Second Advisor

Franca Dell'Olio

Third Advisor

Mary K. McCullough


Catholic education is at a crossroads in the United States, as rising tuition costs present significant challenges to many families’ financial resources. At the very least, affording a Catholic education calls for a reprioritization of expenses. However, in many cases, high tuition costs leave parents with no recourse but to remove their children from Catholic schools. As costs and tuition climb, only those with significant financial resources will be able to attend Catholic schools. Hence, maintaining the foundational mission of Catholic education, namely to provide access to education for the poor and oppressed, threatens to become impossible due to the inadequate revenue from tuition-dependant financial models used by Catholic school administrations. Thus, Catholic schools need a critical rethinking of their financial model in order to make Catholic education accessible to all.

In order to address the financial crisis in Catholic education, it is first important to understand the various forces that influence the funding of Catholic schools. This study addresses this need by asking the question: “What are the current financial models of Catholic education?” Based on a review of the current literature, and including data from a survey of current Catholic diocesan superintendents, this study defines the current financial models used in contemporary Catholic schools in the U.S. by asking the following questions: What are the parameters or conditions of the model? Who are the beneficiaries of the model? What is the social goal or purpose of the model? What is the strength of the model? What are the weaknesses of the model?

Through a summary of the survey findings, recommendations begin to emerge that are presented in the following three categories: (a) a need for a purposeful, strategic, comprehensive intentionality in the application of the various financial models available, (b) a need to reframe the leadership model for financing Catholic schools, and (c) a need to review and update the current decentralized model in Catholic education.