Editor’s note: This article has been updated with new information on Florida school choice scholarships.
CV NEWS FEED // Catholic schools across the United States have seen exponential increases in enrollment within the last year especially with the help of school choice scholarships, and parents are sharing why they value what Catholic schools offer for them and their children.
According to a report from the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), in the 2022-23 school year approximately 1.68 million students were enrolled in a Catholic school.
“After facing the largest single year decline in enrollment of 6.4% from 2019-2020 to 2020-2021 followed by the largest increase of 3.7% from 2020-2021 to 2021-2022, Catholic school enrollment had a slight increase of 0.3% this year,” NCEA stated in its report.
Spectrum News 1 reported on January 24 about the personal experience of a military wife and mother who thrived at her Catholic school, and experienced support from the school even years after graduation.
Faith Vavra Bergman graduated from a New York Catholic school called Seton Catholic Central in 1992, and values that experience, and the community of the school to this day.
“They take each person into account and their unique value, and they bring it to the forefront,” Vavra Bergman told Spectrum News 1.
When Vavra Bergman had her son Nickolas while she was in graduate school, Spectrum News 1 reported, “More than 1,000 miles away, her former high school got word and invited her to bring Nick home to be baptized in the school gym. In front of many of her former classmates, it was a celebration she’ll remember forever.”
“It was very overwhelming. I can’t even explain,” Vavra Bergman said. “Walking into the gym with him in my arms and knowing that, you know, we were kind of coming home.”
Seton Catholic Central principal Patrick Monachino shared, “It’s really affirming for us and the work that we do here. We really like to focus on faith, family as well as academic excellence. And I think these are just perfect examples of the way that our faith goes through everything that we do.”
Another Catholic high school in New York is seeing remarkable results for its students post-graduation. St. Mary’s High School in the Diocese of Rockville Centre saw 99% of its graduates accepted and placed in “exemplary” colleges, according to local news outlet the City Journal.
St. Mary’s staff includes several religious sisters and priests who teach, and, similar to Seton Catholic Central, uses a classical education steeped in Catholic tradition.
The increase in Catholic school enrollment has also been attributed in part to school choice scholarships in some states.
In Florida, Catholics schools saw an increase in enrollment especially due to school choice scholarships. In the 2023-2024 school year, approximately 73% of all students enrolled in a Catholic school in Florida participated in a school choice scholarship. This increase in school choice scholarship use is largely due to the passage of Florida House Bill 1 in March 2023, which granted all students in Florida eligibility to apply for a state-funded scholarship.
NCEA stated in its report, “Catholic school students in Arizona utilized parental choice programs the most (73.8% of students), followed by Indiana (52.7% of students). Expansion of parental choice programs has long been viewed as a way to support parents as the primary educators of their children.”