Wilmington Diocese Donor Tuition Aid Achieves Milestone of Over $1 Million

Bishop Koenig addresses students Oct. 29 at the new SS. Peter and Paul High School in Easton, Md. Dialog photo

Funds that are used to help with tuition assistance in Wilmington Diocese schools have reached a new milestone, with available aid now exceeding $1 million. The diocese also changed the timing of the application process to make it easier for families to develop education plans.

Sheila O’Hagan McGirl, director of diocesan development, said funds have increased in a few campaigns. The Bishop Malooly Scholarship Fund was helped in part by an anonymous donor who “has done remarkable things for us. Thanks to this and the success of the Share the Spirit campaign, we are able to donate over $1 million this year. It is unprecedented. We have never done that in this diocese.

The Share in the Spirit campaign is financed mainly by collections in the parishes of the diocese. The development office also caters to donors who have been regular donors of tuition assistance or to the Faith and Charity Appeal. It brought in about 23% more than last year, McGirl said.

Donors who give a certain amount of money can sponsor a student, she continued. The donor receives updates from the diocese on the student’s progress. They also receive an overview of the student’s situation and why they are receiving financial aid.

Sheila McGirl, Director of Development, Diocese of Wilmington.

“It’s just a beautiful thing,” McGirl said.

Although this milestone has been reached, the need for help still far exceeds what is available. This figure is over $5 million.

“Being able to give a million is always a good thing, but we still want it to be on people’s radar, so if they want to give more, they can,” McGirl said.

Lou De Angelo, the superintendent of schools, said it was “exciting” that the funds had hit the $1 million mark. He said the development office deserves the credit.

“They made big changes,” he said.

The other aspect of tuition assistance that is new is the timing of the application process. Families still have to file the same documents, but instead of waiting until January and not getting an answer until May, they will start the process in September. McGirl said some of those families couldn’t wait until May to find out if they were eligible for the aid, and would enroll elsewhere for the following academic year.

The application process will now open on September 15, using the previous year’s tax returns, McGirl said. The application deadline will be January 31 next year, giving schools the opportunity to hold their open days in January. The development office expects applicants to know if they are receiving financial aid by the first week of March.

McGirl said anyone with questions should contact the development office at (302) 573-3121.

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