Helping families understand tuition assistance at SI

TheresaBayzeFinalSMTheresa Bayze, SI’s tuition assistance director, knows parents who worry about divulging too much information – but for two opposing reasons. Some worry about disclosing all their assets and not receiving as much aid as they want. Others – mainly parents of eighth graders – worry that SI might look askance at their applications if they even apply for aid.

Bayze’s job is to partner with both groups in her role as steward of SI’s tuition assistance fund and convince them to be up front and on time with their forms.

“Some families come from cultures that aren’t comfortable asking for help, while other families ask for aid who don’t need as much as they think they do. Complicating matters are the skewed economics of living in San Francisco, where salaries seem high, but so too is the cost of living. We also remind parents that our admissions process is needs-blind. We don’t consider family income at all when we review a student’s application to enroll here.”

This year, SI distributed more than $3.2 million to a quarter of the student body. Next year, that number will grow to more than $3.4 million, and for the second consecutive year, money earned by the endowment fund won’t cover the need. To make up the difference, the school will draw directly from donations.

“The hardest part of our job is to serve as many families as we can while still being as equitable as possible with the money available to us,” said Bayze. “That equity happens when parents see the tuition assistance process as a collaborative effort. That collaboration fails when families don’t meet deadlines or hold back important information.”

That collaboration also happens with those who donate to the tuition assistance fund, added Bayze. “So many generous families have chosen to contribute to SI to ensure that we are a school that includes students from all socio-economic levels. We have an obligation to be a wise steward of these gifts.”

Bayze, a Tucson native and a 21-year veteran Spanish teacher at SI, is in her second year as tuition assistance director. In that time, she has worked with families who belong to country clubs and go on expensive vacations and who plead with SI to increase their allotment. “Everyone needs to cut back to afford private high school and college tuition,” said Bayze. “We need to help families understand that some income is discretionary and can be directed at tuition. It’s a sacrifice to send kids to SI, and it’s part of our job to educate families that aid starts at home.”

Bayze also administers the Arrupe Fund, which offers additional funds to 150 students who qualify for at least $10,000 in tuition assistance. Students receive money for day-to-day expenses, such as lunch, books, student activities, athletic uniforms and travel for performing arts and athletics events. The money also covers some fees to apply to colleges or to take standardized tests.

Arrupe Fund students also receive a Freedom Pay card with $200 credit per semester that allows them to charge expenses in a seamless and non-obtrusive way.

“This card allows our students to purchase what they need without having to ask for help each time they find themselves short of funds. They can enjoy the complete SI experience while taking the burden off their families. In the past, students simply wouldn’t sign up for activities that involved extra expenses. Now they know someone in the building is here to help them. I have found so many outside companies willing to waive fees if I just ask them to. Many teachers have also stepped up, offering to loan books and supplies to Arrupe students.”

“The Arrupe Fund also helps families on the margin with special opportunities during the year,” added Vice President for Development Joe Vollert ’84. “We helped a few students this year, including members of the Chamber Singers who traveled to New York for the group’s performance at Carnegie Hall, all thanks to a generous gift by John Azevedo ’59.”

Bayze added that she wants “all students at SI to have an equitable place here and to know that money does not decide a student’s worth. Because of tuition assistance and the Arrupe Fund, students can quietly and comfortably navigate SI without money being an issue. I know it’s humbling and hard to ask for help, but I encourage everyone to apply for aid if they have a real need. I have the best job in the building as my colleagues and I are able to help so many deserving families.”

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