January 28, 2005

2005 Catholic Schools Week Supplement

Total Catholic Education Fund offers forgivable loans

By Brandon A. Evans

The Total Catholic Education (TCE) Fund, started more than a decade ago, has been helping people continue the lifelong process of learning.

It has been doing this through the awarding of forgivable loans—these are loans that are given to a person, in this case for further education (usually meaning an advanced degree).

“It was put in place to enhance leadership and provide for continuing education for educational leaders—teachers, principals, [directors of religious education]—and now youth ministers are involved,” said G. Joseph Peters, associate executive director of Catholic education for the archdiocese. In the last year, 48 loans were awarded.

“When they complete their program, they have a five year obligation, and one-fifth of that loan is forgiven each year by a combination of the TCE fund … and the parish or the sponsoring entity,” Peters said.

“Most of them, because they continue to work for us, never pay a penny back,” he said.

The loan recipients are chosen through an application process that is reviewed by the Archdiocesan Education Commission.

Cynthia Greer, principal of St. Mark the Evangelist School in Indianapolis, said that she received a loan about eight years ago.

“I used it to get my master’s degree from Butler [University], which would have been my administration license,” she said.

At the time, Greer was teaching at Our Lady of the Greenwood School in Greenwood. Pursuing a graduate-level degree was something she had wanted to do.

“For me, it was going to be the only way that I was going to be able to pick up a master’s degree,” she said.

Scott Stewart, principal of Christ the King School in Indianapolis, was formerly a world geography and U.S. history teacher at Roncalli High School.

He wanted to obtain his administrator’s license—which was a master’s level degree—but couldn’t afford it. He was able to receive a forgivable loan from the TCE from 1988-2000 to get his degree.

“If it wasn’t for this program,” Stewart said, “I probably … would have to have moved on to public schools” to make a living.

“[The loans] allow those of us that really want to make a lifelong commitment to Catholic education to do so,” he said. “In my mind, it’s the archdiocese, the Office of Catholic Education, making a commitment to us.”

Teachers, in turn, he said, are able to make that commitment back.

Greer said that for both educators and the larger archdiocese, the program is “great—it’s a win-win for everybody.

“I think it helps the archdiocese because we better ourselves and so we can give back more.” †


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