Financial Accessibility

When Anna Backer left the funds to build our campus on Oakland Avenue in 1924 as a memorial to her late husband George (Class of 1869), she wanted to help “ordinary youngsters” with extraordinary potential.

Nearly 100 years later, Mrs. Backer’s vision continues to shine. Our students come from 93 different zip codes and 189 middle schools on both sides of the river. Their parents range from corporate executives and university professors, to plumbers and cab drivers. While these young men live miles apart, in two-story homes and single-room apartments, they share one common theme: they have great intellectual ability.

A SLUH education is a tremendous gift, thanks to the support of our benefactors, but our current funding model is unsustainable. Annual fundraising, which is susceptible to market fluctuations, provides the resources for financial aid. A new level of scholarship assistance is needed to ensure a SLUH education remains accessible to those unable to afford tuition.

From a Flicker to a Flame
An additional $25 million to the endowment – or about 83 fully endowed scholarships – will secure the long-term viability of financial aid. It will enhance an already diverse mix of students, while allowing the school’s annual fundraising efforts to pursue new student opportunities and curriculum initiatives, as well as increased faculty compensation and professional development.

SLUH’s endowment has benefited all alumni. Together, we must honor our proud Ignatian tradition of affordable education, especially for those in most need. We owe it to our Jr. Bills – “ordinary youngsters” with extraordinary potential – to fuel their flame and empower them to change the world.

Our Story: By the Numbers


SLUH has experienced a steady increase in enrollment over the last century. More recently, we have reached a stable enrollment level and anticipate it to continue to plateau.

Staffing & Jesuit Presence

In the 1970s, the lay faculty and staff (red) began to outnumber the Jesuits (blue), a trend that continues to affect the cost of education.

Tuition & Cost of Education

Tuition (blue) and Cost of Education (red): Historically, SLUH has not charged the full cost of education to allow students from all socio-economic backgrounds to attend. The difference, or gap, between the cost of education and tuition is made up through fundraising. More recently, SLUH has made a strategic decision to move tuition closer to the cost of education. This greatly benefits financial aid by freeing up additional funds to help families from the lower and middle classes. In 2003-04, tuition was 62% of the cost of education; today it is about 90%.

Financial Aid (%)

The percentage of Jr. Bills benefiting from financial aid has doubled in less than 10 years. Currently, the average award is $9,750.

Financial Aid ($)

The amount of financial aid has more than tripled in the last decade, thanks to the generosity of benefactors.


ENDOWMENT (blue), DEBT (red) AND NET ENDOWMENT (green): Current figures dispel the myth that the Backer endowment funds our operations and financial aid (this would require an endowment in excess of $360M). Contrary to popular belief, the value of our endowment is less than other leading Jesuit and independent high schools nationwide. Nonetheless, we have made great strides in the recent past to manage our operating budget and improve our annual fundraising efforts to underwrite financial aid, thus preserving our endowment corpus, while simultaneously paying down our debt (primarily acquired in the 1990s to refurbish our aging urban facility and build our theater). No debt has been assumed in the past decade. The net result is a notably increased net endowment. Even still, at an average draw of 5% annually, our net endowment is only about $1,600 per student.