Cathedral Preparatory School
Villa Maria Academy

Catholic Elementary Scholarship Program (CESP)

One of the greatest assets and blessings that we have in our Diocese is our strong tradition of Catholic education.  For many generations, Catholic schools have educated our youth from pre-school through college and have provided a faith-based and transformative education that has produced graduates who have gone on to make a positive difference in our local community and beyond.  Catholic school students are challenged to be thinkers and problem-solvers through a rigorous academic curriculum while also being instilled with a strong moral and faith foundation so that they are well-prepared for life.

With that being said, however, the cost of a Catholic school tuition can make the dream of a Catholic education difficult, and in some case, even perceived as insurmountable.  We don’t need to tell you that families make big sacrifices to send their children to our Catholic schools.

As a Catholic school with a proud, strong and long tradition of providing a solid Catholic education to our area students, Cathedral Prep and Villa Maria Academy have addressed much needed facility improvements over the past several years along with continuously improving our academic programs.  Very quietly, and at the same time, and with a sensitivity to the cost of Catholic education, the school has also been building its Endowment to address the ever growing need to offer tuition assistance to families who wish their children to have the Prep and Villa experience.  Today, we are happy to announce that the Prep and Villa Endowment is approaching $12 million and continued growth is expected.  This growth has come from benefactors who have included Cathedral Prep and Villa Maria Academy in their estate plans and/or from outright cash gifts.  Words cannot adequately express our gratitude for the generosity of these amazing people. 

Because of our successful fundraising efforts, a strong endowment, and our commitment to making Catholic education accessible to our area families, we are very pleased and excited to announce to you today the creation of the Catholic Elementary Scholarship Program, or CESP.  CESP is one more way that Prep and Villa can partner with our Catholic elementary schools. 

What does that mean exactly?

Beginning with the 8th grade graduating class of 2019, any graduate of a Catholic elementary school in the Diocese of Erie will receive a $3,000 scholarship per year renewable for four years to attend Cathedral Prep or Villa Maria Academy. Thus, the total value of the scholarship is $12,000.  The current tuition is $9,825, so with CESP, the effective tuition would only be $6,825. 

In order to be eligible for this scholarship, the student:

  • must be enrolled in a Catholic elementary school prior to the start of their 8th grade year
  • must graduate in good standing from one of our diocesan Catholic elementary schools,
  • must be accepted by Prep or Villa,
  • and must apply for financial aid through the Prep and Villa tuition assistance program, also known as FACTS. 

In addition, any of our CURRENT Prep or Villa students in grades 9-11 who are graduates of one of our Catholic elementary schools and who started with Prep or Villa for their freshman year are eligible for the CESP $3,000 scholarship.  However, those current students are eligible only if they have applied for financial aid through the FACTS program in spring of 2018 for this current school year (2018-2019), and who apply for aid through FACTS for the 2019-2020 school year, and thus have demonstrated a need for financial aid.

Note that in addition to the CESP Scholarship, financial aid is also available to those families with demonstrated financial need. 

Families not eligible for the Catholic Elementary Scholarship Program scholarship, such as public school families, are encouraged to apply for financial aid through the usual process.  Financial aid is still available through that process of applying for tuition assistance through Prep and Villa’s FACTS program and the Diocese of Erie Tuition Assistance Program.  Please know that we work hard to help families afford the cost of tuition for Cathedral Prep and Villa Maria Academy.

The Catholic Elementary Scholarship Program is a huge win-win for Catholic education in the Diocese of Erie.  Not only does this scholarship program provide funds to make a Prep or Villa education more affordable for families who have already made sacrifices for Catholic education in our Catholic elementary schools, but it provides an added incentive to families to attend one of our Catholic elementary schools.  We are deeply grateful to the many benefactors whose generosity have made this scholarship program possible.

For more information about the Catholic Elementary Scholarship Program, please contact Tim Dougherty, Director of Enrollment Management (814-453-7737 x2242/


Is there still a possibility of additional tuition assistance above and beyond CESP if there is a demonstrated need?

Yes! Additional tuition assistance is available if needed through our traditional sources such as Endowment, Tax Credit Program, and Adopt-A-Student.

The CESP scholarship is renewable for all four years?

Yes! So long as the student remains in good academic and behavioral standing.

If a student doesn’t begin their schooling at a Catholic elementary school can they still qualify?

Yes! Although we would prefer a child enrolls at one of our Catholic elementary schools in Kindergarten, any student accepted at a Catholic elementary school prior to the start of their 8th grade year qualifies for CESP.

Does my child still qualify if he/she is not Catholic but attends a Catholic elementary school?


Do all families qualify for CESP regardless of their income?

Yes! We do require that all families who wish to pursue CESP submit the required documents for tuition assistance.

If a student transfers into Prep or Villa and demonstrates need will they qualify for tuition assistance?

Yes! However, they will not qualify for CESP.

Is tuition assistance still available for students who attend public middle schools and wish to attend Prep/Villa?

Yes! So long as there is demonstrated need.