Catholic schools in U.S. hit by unprecedented enrollment drop


ASSOCIATED PRESS —

NEW YORK — Enrollment in Roman Catholic schools in the United States dropped 6.4% from the previous academic year amid the pandemic and economic stresses — the largest single-year decline in at least five decades, Catholic education officials reported Monday.

Among the factors were the closure or consolidation of more than 200 schools and the difficulty for many parents of paying tuition fees that average more than $5,000 for grades K-8 and more than $10,000 for secondary schools, according to the National Catholic Educational Association.

John Reyes, the NCEA’s executive director for operational vitality, said the pandemic has been an “accelerant” for longstanding challenges facing Catholic education.

Between the 2019-2020 school year and the current year, nationwide enrollment dropped by 110,000 to about 1.6 million students. Back in the 1960s, enrollment was more than 5 million.

With the recent wave of closures, there are now 5,981 Catholic schools in the United States, compared with more than 11,000 in 1970.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Dan Keck

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