Catholic college to decline federal funding, cites 'increasingly burdensome regulations'

Wyoming Catholic College will decline federal funds in order to maintain its character.

The college maintains that if it were to participate in federal programs, its Catholic identity "might be further in danger.

Approximately 57 percent of college students receive some sort of federal financial aid, but in the foreseeable future zero students at Wyoming Catholic College (WCC) will be able to use federal funds to help pay for college.

As university officials said the school felt compelled to choose between refusing federal aid for its students and abandoning the college’s Catholic identity, the WCC Board of Directors unanimously voted to abstain from any federal student loan and grant programs.

WCC President Kevin Roberts explained that the university’s decision to opt out of federal funding was the result of “increasingly burdensome regulations.”

“By abstaining from federal funding programs, we will safeguard our mission from unwarranted federal involvement—an involvement increasingly at odds with our Catholic beliefs, the content of our curriculum, and our institutional practices,” Roberts said in a statement.

WCC’s Catholic identity, Roberts said in an interview with Catholic News Service, was “already [endangered] by the HHS mandate,” the portion of Obamacare that requires employers to provide contraception coverage to employees.

If the university were to participate in federal programs, the school’s Catholic identity “might be further in danger.”

A video explaining the university’s decision said the federal government could force the university to act contrary to Catholic values regarding “same-sex relationships and transgender persons.”

The government’s evolving interpretation of the Title IX law prohibiting discrimination, Roberts said, would affect the school’s policies on hiring, admissions, and public facilities.

“The political landscape in 2015 is very different than it was thirty years ago,” said President Roberts.

As a result, Roberts explained, the decision of whether or not to participate in federal funding programs was much tougher than it might have been thirty years ago for the university, which was only founded in 2005.

“Were the college founded thirty years ago, perhaps the decision to participate in federal programs would be easy,” he said.

The university’s decision not to participate in federal programs follows in the footsteps of Christendom College, a Catholic institution located in Virginia, which has refused to participate in federal programs since its founding. Like Wyoming Catholic College, Christendom refuses federal funding in order to ensure that it “is free to teach the Catholic Faith without government interference.”

Because the university will have to proceed without federal funds, Roberts explained, “all of us at the college will have to work that much harder.”

The university plans to make up for the difference in student aid through internal funding, the same strategy used by Christendom. One way WCC hopes to accomplish this is through their recently created St. Thomas More Fund. WCC believes the fund, which is specifically designated “for student loans, grants, and merit scholarships,” will prove to be “a viable alternative to the increasingly burdensome regulations of the federal government.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @peterjhasson