wow it is that time of year again
if you want a search, brace yourself and approach with a strong drink in your hand, there are many past, acrimonious discussions of this topic (soon to be banned, I hope)
there is NO fee for sacraments, ever. Parish staff and parishioners commonly talk about a fee, but they are really talking about a fee or suggested donation to cover incidental costs incurred by the parish in preparing for and administering the sacrament–use of the church in case of a wedding for instance, A/C, cleaning, lights etc. Books and supplies in the case of RE for sacramental preparation of children.
Yes your diocese probably has guidelines
yes your parish is probably within those guidelines
in both cases they are usually set by true need, almost never cover the entire cost incurred by the parish, and are what the traffic will bear. There can be wide latitude between neighboring parishes, based on resources, true costs, and income level of parishioners. Almost all have some way to waive fees for those in need. Some parishes (like ours) suggest a donation to cover the cost of books (the hugest expense after overhead and salaries) but no mandatory fee.
Repeat and hang this on your doorposts and teach it to your children: there is never a fee for sacraments, and parishes that have embraced stewardship spirituality including tithing can easily cover the cost of RE, sacramental preparation and even in most cases Catholic school education for all their parishioners.
the new textbooks from our publisher are 20% higher in cost than the old edition, and the catechist manuals almost 80% higher, If I order this year I will get free catechist manuals with every 25 books, so I over-ordered to save money next year, as I can no longer obtain the older edition (at reduced cost through a clearing house). we will consequently have a shortfall this year, but save a bit next year. because a capital campaign has reduced regular collections, my budget is half what it was when I took this job, rather than being raised along with rising expenses.
Many poorer parishes her do and can run an RE program w/o texts, or using books meant to be consumable year after year, or using alternative resources (with commensurate photocopy expense, not negligible). It can be done, but puts a greater burden on the catechist, and on the child, when books are not used as intended. these decisions are generally made by the parish finance council and approved by the pastor. If you want to be part of the decision making, investigate that process.
my cost per pupil, just in books and supplies, not counting overhead or salaries, is $25, which is our standard fee and has been for many years, before I got here. Add 7 to 15 for each sacrament for which the child is preparing, which includes the resources for the mandatory parent-sponsor meetings and retreats. The parents pay nothing additional to cover that, but families are given a generic donation envelope which they can use at their discretion, but that goes to the parish to cover sacramental expenses, not to CCD. RCIA costs over $50 for each adult or child received into the Church, and the Spanish program is almost that much–more expensive resources spread over a smaller group of participants means less economy of scale. The parish takes up all the cost for RCIA.
A/C on average is $100/day for the school an $70/day for the hall, and we use all this space Tuesday & Wednesdy evening, 2 sessions Saturday morning, and 3 sessions Sunday morning. That is not even in the CCD budget, parish covers it, plus my salary and that of a PT secretary (which barely meet diocesan guidelines for a living wage). I run programs all summer long as well.
we also spend an average of $24 per year, per catechist, on formation classes, retreats etc., that does not include the $15 each for the diocesan convocation