Providence Country Day to drop its tuition by 35%

Updated at 12:33 p.m. on Oct. 14, 2020

PROVIDENCE COUNTRY Day School in East Providence announced it will decrease its 2021-22 tuition for both its middle school students and high school students by 35%. / COURTESY PROVIDENCE COUNTRY DAY SCHOOL

EAST PROVIDENCE – In a rare move, Providence Country Day School announced Oct. 1 that the private preparatory school will decrease its tuition for all its grades 6-12 by 35% for the 2021-22 academic year.

The school said that tuition for grades 9-12, effective next academic year, will decrease from $39,250 to $25,000 and the middle school – grades 6-8 – will drop from $34,400 to $22,000.

PCD said the tuition decrease is part of its comprehensive plan, titled “The Quest,” which calls for the private school to make its experience for students more personalized and less expensive.

Most schools that require tuition, such as private secondary institutions and colleges, would typically either increase tuition each year or institute a tuition freeze in times of financial crisis. Very seldom do schools decrease tuition, let alone the drop that PCD will institute next year.

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PCD Head of School Kevin Folan told Providence Business News that schools across the country, including colleges and independent private schools, are concerned about tuition growth. Folan feels that it has gotten “out of control” over the past generation, noting that PCD’s tuition has grown by 400% the last generation while median household income has increased by only 15%.

“We believe that is not sustainable for either the school or our families,” Folan said. “So, we need to do something. A lot of schools across the country were all looking at each other thinking who was going to go first, and we wanted to be a leader here. Affordability is the No. 1 issue on everyone’s mind, especially with the current [COVID-19] pandemic going on.”

Folan clarified that talks about decreasing tuition at PCD had been in the works for “about a decade,” and the board signed off on the tuition drop about eight months ago prior to the pandemic taking hold. When asked why PCD made its announcement eight months after the formal decision by the board, Folan said that PCD wanted to make sure the school had a “full admission cycle,” which typically takes place from October to next September, to promote this initiative to prospective families.

As part of the new initiative, Folan said PCD – which has approximately 200 total students across all grades – hopes to have sustained growth of its student admissions by 10% to 15% over the course of a few years but still keep the small-school feel.

Also, PCD is launching an online learning academy, which the school intends to offer classes to students who live outside PCD’s drawing area. Folan said that online learning, which became prevalent during the pandemic, is being seen by PCD as being “widely accepted,” and it will become an additional revenue stream for the school.

Folan said the online learning academy will start slowly with enrollment, but hopes it can draw in “several hundred” students within a couple years.

(CORRECTION: Kevin Folan was misidentified in the original posting of this story.)

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

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