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Tatnall and Salesianum Announce $1 million COVID Tuition Relief Funds; Area Private Schools Share Financial Aid Plans

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Christy Fleming
Christy Fleming
The managing editor of TownSquareDelaware.com, Christy Fleming also supports a variety of non-profit initiatives in Delaware. Her background includes positions in public relations, advertising and journalism.

The Tatnall School announced the Tatnall Cares Fund this month to help families impacted by COVID-19

The Tatnall School and Salesianum School have each established $1 million COVID financial relief funds for families who have been affected financially by the pandemic.

Each school plans to make the funds available during the 2020-2021 academic year as short-term assistance to families demonstrating financial need caused by the economic impact of COVID-19.

Other independent schools in the area have also announced plans to financially support students and their families who have been affected by the novel coronavirus. Most schools contacted said they hesitated to assign a time frame or dollar amount, as they hope to work directly with existing families and parents of applicants who demonstrate need.


Each school said its leadership has determined that the financial impact of the virus should not stand in the way of any current or new student from receiving an education at their school.

As Tatnall Board President Stephen D. Marvin said in a letter to parents earlier this month, “Simply put, no student should leave Tatnall because of the impact of COVID-19 on his or her family. We want to do whatever we can to keep your child part of Tatnall regardless of the effects of this pandemic.”


Inspired by an initial $150,000 gift from Cal and Jennifer Stempel and the Ernest E. Stempel Foundation, Tatnall created the Tatnall Cares Fund, a financial assistance program specifically for COVID-related tuition assistance. The school’s trustees have pledged a total of $341,000 to the program and they are encouraging existing families and alum to assist in the initiative.

The initiative also makes funds available to enhance the school’s technological resources should they need upgrading to support distance learning.

Salesianum said requests for tuition relief started coming in as soon as business closures were announced

Salesianum launched its fund on March 30, saying at that time that requests for new financial aid were already coming in.  

School president Brendan Kennealey said the school’s financial position allowed it to ensure current incoming students could afford to attend the all boy’s school in Wilmington.  The school also said that Dawn and Bill Schieffer ’79, had committed $160,000 towards a goal of $1,000,000. Additionally, Salesianum is committing another $500,000 to support the families of employees by assisting with medical expenses or lost wages as a result of the virus.

And while a few independent schools across the country have announced tuition reductions for the 2020-2021 school year, no school contacted for this article has shared plans to reduce tuition across the board next year.

The following schools shared information on how they are handling any financial challenges impacting students at their institutions.



The Independence School is committed to being affordable to all who wish to attend.  There are a wide variety of circumstances that may impact a family’s ability to pay tuition, and the COVID-19 pandemic has added a significant new layer of concern and uncertainty.

We are fortunate to be able to provide tuition assistance for students with demonstrated need through our Financial Aid Program.  At Independence, this assistance is available for students in preschool through eighth grade.  Recently, the Board of Trustees approved the development of an emergency fund to help families impacted economically by the pandemic.

We continue to work with each family on an individual basis, whether their children are already enrolled or are new applicants to Independence, as we value each family that adds to the spirit of the Independence community.

Ursuline Academy

We know that members of our community may be faced with the financial impacts of this global pandemic. We are wholly committed to ensuring every child in our care as an Ursuline student will remain an Ursuline student. That support extends to those students who will be joining our community in the fall. We are a family – a family that supports each other through every peak and every valley, and this time of global pandemic is no different.

To support one another, Ursuline has created a COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund with the explicit purpose of providing aid to our families and employees impacted by the virus. Our school’s financial position is strong, and with the generous support of our donors, we are able to readily assist our community members in need. Our talented and knowledgeable Director of Finance continually monitors federal funding opportunities that will provide necessary funds to support the Academy.

Additionally, Ursuline’s Board of Trustees has reinforced their commitment to all of us during this unprecedented time by generously donating a substantial percentage of our newly increased fundraising goal. If your family’s financial situation has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, you are encouraged to contact Leigh Perillo in the business office.



The Board of Trustees and administration of Archmere Academy are fully committed to helping students and their families, as well as faculty and staff and their families, manage through this uncertain time educationally, emotionally, and financially.

We remain committed to exceptional program delivery and providing comprehensive support for our students and families during the COVID 19 pandemic. Financially, Archmere is committed to helping individual families whose household incomes have been adversely affected by COVID-19, with the intent that no student will have to leave Archmere because of family finances.

Clearly, these are unprecedented times, making it challenging to plan ahead. However, Archmere’s decisions will continue to be rooted in its mission as a Catholic, Norbertine school, sensitive to the needs of the community, and informed by relevant and timely data. Archmere’s leadership continues to be grateful for the widespread support of the alumni, parents of alumni, current families and students, faculty, staff, and friends of the Academy who are committed to the continued success of a valued educational tradition begun in 1932.



Sanford School recognizes that the economy is already a strain on many of our families — some may be facing loss of employment or other financial hardship. We are asking folks to reach out to us so that our school can support them during this tough time.

Our Sanford community has a long history of helping students and families – and we see this another opportunity to do so. We invite those families to contact Associate Head of School for Advancement Jaime Morgan so that we can try to help ameliorate the financial impact of this crisis. It is our hope that Sanford does not lose any students or families due to the impact of COVID-19.

Wilmington Friends

Since financial aid has been core to our mission since 1748, Wilmington Friends School has always supported our families in times of need. We are absolutely committed to providing tuition assistance to our families who have been affected financially due to Coronavirus, similar to what we did after the 2008 stock market crash. 

Tower Hill

Tower Hill is committed to being a school of Wilmington and the world, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. A core tenet of the school’s strategic plan is building an engaged and diverse community, including socioeconomic diversity. Over the past five years, Tower Hill has increased its financial aid budget by over 50%, from $2.1 million in 2015-2016 to $3.2 million in the 2019-2020 school year. This increase reflects the school’s commitment to attract and retain outstanding students, no matter their families’ ability to pay full tuition. Currently, 36% of the student body receives financial aid. 

“We are fortunate to have made an intentional commitment to increase financial aid over the past years,” Head of School Bessie Speers said. “Each year we select a word for the year, and they have been gratitude, kindness, courage, integrity, and this year, community. If there is ever a time to rally around the word of the year, it is now. We are committed to maintaining and supporting our community, and this includes families who may experience financial hardship because of this global crisis.” 

During this challenging time, Tower Hill remains committed to students and families who may need additional support or may be experiencing financial hardship. Tower Hill’s administration and board have prepared for the allocation of additional financial aid funding to ensure that students can remain a part of the school community despite any financial hardship to families caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.



Padua Academy remains 100% committed to all our families during this time of global uncertainty, most especially in retaining their daughters’ enrollment status. With that said, we continue to provide financial assistance to those who need it. 

From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have communicated to our families that if their employment status or wages change in any way, thus impacting their ability to fulfill tuition obligations, we will assist them. 

No Padua student will be left behind due to financial or emotional hardship.

Padua is proud to have transitioned seamlessly to synchronous online learning since Day 1 of the ongoing crisis. While the learning landscape has changed, our commitment to teaching our students has not.

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