Partnership helps students attend Catholic schools

By Michele Chan Santos
An innovative new program and partnership is making Catholic education more affordable and achievable for some Austin-area Catholic families.
Since January 2013, active parishioners at Sacred Heart Parish in Northeast Austin have been eligible to have half or more of their children’s tuition expenses at San Juan Diego Catholic High School (SJDCHS), Cathedral School of St. Mary (preK3 through eighth grades) or St. Ignatius Catholic School (preK3 through eighth grades) covered by their parish. 
Father Mark Hamlet, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, which serves a primarily Hispanic, Spanish-speaking community, said many of the parishioners are immigrants with little formal education.
“In our neighborhood, the concept of higher education is not one many parents are familiar with,” Father Hamlet said. “Preparing for college is not on their radar screen.”
He hopes to change that. SJDCHS, with its history of helping Hispanic students become the first in their families to attend and graduate from college, has transformed many families in his parish. 
Pam Jupe, the president and principal of SJDCHS, explained that once a student is accepted at one of these schools, their parents can bring the financial statement to Sacred Heart Parish in order to have half or more of the tuition bill paid by the church. 
For Sacred Heart families that are struggling financially, Father Hamlet says that between the aid offered by the school and by his parish, the cost per student is very reasonable. “That is significant for families with four to six children, but who have household incomes around $40,000 or less, as is often the case in our parish and community,” Father Hamlet said.
For more information about this partnership, contact Father Mark Hamlet at (512) 926-2552.

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