Catholic Primary School Afford To Pay

The first major primary decision Dan Tehan made as federal education minister was to make a deal for Catholic schools and independent schools. The pieces were in place from a policy standpoint. Simon Birmingham, Tehan’s predecessor had made it possible for all schools to be funded in a consistent manner. The National Schools Resourcing Board, (NSRB), showed how to use household income as a way to determine how much parents would be able to pay if they choose a non-government school.

Yesterday’s announcement was good news. The government has accepted all recommendations from the NSRB’s Chaney Review of how socioeconomic score is calculated. All funding for non-governmental schools will now be based upon the same formula by 2029. This transition is, in my opinion, longer and more costly than necessary but it does get us to the right place.

The bad news? The new deal is not as good as it seems. A total of A$1.2 billion was set aside for school fees, among other priorities. The fund is not available to independent and Catholic schools. Also, while all schools are equally qualified, some schools are better than others.

The A$1.2 billion slush funds seem to be a political solution to the main Catholic problem: the claim that parents of Catholic primary schools in the top tier can’t afford the higher fees imposed by the Gonski/Chaney model. A new analysis shows that parents of Catholic schools with a high level of financial support can pay for their education.

Only A Few Primary Catholic Schools Require Large Fee Increases

There are only over 1200 Catholic primary schools in Australia. All of them charged fees less than A$4,000 in 2016. The Gonski/Chaney model would see the federal government cut funding for schools with high-income families. This would mean that fees would have to go up. Schools serving low- and middle-income families would not have to raise fees because they would still receive the same government funding.

To compensate for the lower levels of government funding, only 160 Catholic primary schools would require fee increases of at least A$2,500. More than 800 schools (three out of five) would require minimal fees increases or receive more funding. Media stories often focus on Catholic primary schools, where fees may need to increase by $4,000 or more. Although these schools are not typical, they were the foundation of the Catholic campaign against government.

Chaney says that parental contribution is determined by income and not where parents live. Chaney states that 36 schools, or one in thirty, fall within this category. Their fees would go up because their parents are able to afford them.

Catholic School Parents May Be Able To Afford More

It can be difficult to define affordability. However, it can be quite simple. Jane can afford twice the mortgage if she earns twice as much than Dick. Jane’s taxes will take up more income than Dick’s. Regressive would be earning more, but paying a lower tax rate. This is exactly how Catholic primary school fees are calculated.

The following chart shows how the income and school fees compare, and how it changes with increasing household income. 2016 was a difficult year for families with modest incomes, ranging from A$30,000 to A$79999. They had to pay 2.6% of their pretax income to cover one set of Catholic primary school tuition fees. Only 1% was charged to families with incomes over A$300,000.

However, the school fees for independent primary schools tend not to increase in line with household income. Some Catholic schools would be able to charge higher fees if the primary school fees were increased in line with the income of their parents. Catholic primary fees would remain relatively low. What would happen if Catholic primary school tuition were consistent at 2.6% of the median family income?

The fees would go up substantially in Catholic schools with high incomes – up to almost A$8,500 for the few schools that have an average family earning A$300,000. However, they would be significantly lower than fees charged at independent schools in similar communities.

These Fees Are Primary Therefore Realistic

First, fees for Catholic primary schools with families earning more than A$300,000. can be afforded by these families. Their families can afford to pay fees that are more than $8,000. This is because their families have the same income as those who earn A$600,000.

Second, the fees are still significantly lower than what independent school families choose to pay. Independent school families earning between A$120-180,000 pay fees around $8,200. This is about the same amount as the maximum contribution allowed under Gonski 2.0.

Many will argue that if they have to pay A$8,000 in fees, Catholic school families will send the children to the government school. This may happen. However, this is a matter for value and choice, not affordability.

The first major decision Dan Tehan made as federal education minister was to make a deal for Catholic schools and independent schools. The pieces were in place from a policy standpoint. Simon Birmingham, Tehan’s predecessor had made it possible for all schools to be funded in a consistent manner. The National Schools Resourcing Board, (NSRB), showed how to use household income as a way to determine how much parents would be able to pay if they choose a non-government school.

Primary Funding For Non-Governmental Schools

Yesterday’s announcement was good news. The government has accept all recommendations from the NSRB’s Chaney Review of how socioeconomic score is calculate. All funding for non-governmental schools will now be based upon the same formula by 2029. This transition is, in my opinion, longer and more costly than necessary but it does get us to the right place.

The bad news? The new deal is not as good as it seems. A total of A$1.2 billion was set aside for school fees, among other priorities. The fund is not available to independent and Catholic schools. Also, while all schools are equally qualified, some schools are better than others.

The A$1.2 billion slush funds seem to be a political solution to the main Catholic problem: the claim that parents of Catholic primary schools in the top tier can’t afford the higher fees imposed by the Gonski/Chaney model. A new analysis shows that parents of Catholic schools with a high level of financial support can pay for their education.

Only A Few Primary Catholic Schools Require Large Fee Increases

In Australia, there are only over 1200 Catholic primary schools. All of them charged fees less than A$4,000 in 2016. The Gonski/Chaney model would see the federal government cut funding for schools with high-income families. This would mean that fees would have to go up. Schools serving low- and middle-income families would not have to raise fees because they would still receive the same government funding.

To compensate for the lower levels of government funding, only 160 Catholic primary schools would require fee increases of at least A$2,500. More than 800 schools (three out of five) would require minimal fees increases or receive more funding.

Media stories often focus on Catholic primary schools, where fees may need to increase by $4,000 or more. Although these schools are not typical, they were the foundation of the Catholic campaign against government. Chaney says that parental contribution is determine by income and not where parents live. Chaney states that 36 schools, or one in thirty, fall within this category. Their fees would go up because their parents are able to afford them.

Catholic School Parents May Be Able To Afford More

It can be difficult to define affordability. However, it can be quite simple. Jane can afford twice as much mortgage if she earns twice as Dick. Jane’s taxes will take up more income than Dick’s. Regressive would be earning more, but paying a lower tax rate. This is exactly how Catholic primary school fees are calculate.

The following chart shows how the income and school fees compare, and how it changes with increasing household income. 2016 was a difficult year for families with modest incomes, ranging from A$30,000 to A$79999. They had to pay 2.6% of their pretax income to cover one set of Catholic primary school tuition fees. Only 1% was charge to families with incomes over A$300,000.

However, the school fees for independent primary schools tend not to increase in line with household income. Some Catholic schools would able to charge higher fees if the primary school fees were increase in line with parents’ income.

Catholic Primary Fees Would Remain Relatively Low

What would happen if Catholic primary school tuition were consistent at 2.6% of the median family income? The fees would go up substantially in Catholic schools with high incomes – to almost A$8,500 for the few schools that have an average family earning A$300,000. However, they would be significantly lower than fees charged at independent schools in similar communities.

These fees are therefore realistic. First, fees for Catholic primary schools with families earning more than A$300,000. can be afford by these families. Their families can afford to pay fees that are more than $8,000. This is because their families have the same income as those who earn A$60,000.

Second, the fees are still significantly lower than what independent school families choose to pay. Independent school families earning between A$120-180,000 pay fees around $8,200. This is about the same amount as the maximum contribution allowed under Gonski 2.0.

Many will argue that if they have to pay A$8,000 in fees, Catholic school families will send the children to the government school. This may happen. However, this is a matter for value and choice, not affordability.