The strategy at St. John’s College to cut tuition was recognized Monday by the Education Dive website, which named it the “4-Year College of the Year.”

The liberal arts school lowered tuition by $17,000, starting this academic year. The college turned to a $300 million philanthropic approach to provide support for administrative spending. Despite the possible risk, the school received support from the community, said Panayiotis Kanelos, Annapolis campus president.


“College leadership knew that reducing our tuition by a third involved significant risk. However, the trust in this course forward from all of our community — our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and donors — has been shown to be well-placed,” Kanelos said in a statement.

“Record application numbers from academically strong students is part of the proof that we’ve done the right thing, and done it correctly.”

In 2018, the school announced that tuition would go from $51,200 to $35,000 for the start of the 2019 academic school year. Education Drive reported that the college has made more than $200 million in donations and “is on track to eliminate its deficit by 2021.”

In comparison to other private colleges, the sharp decrease for St. John’s has allowed more access for prospective students.

This year, the school saw 29% of the incoming 2019 class were students of color and 14% were the first in their family to attend college, according to the campus spokesman. For the 2018 to 2019 cycle, the Annapolis campus received 960 applicants.

“Massive support from our many donors and friends is more proof that we’ve made the right choice. We’re very pleased to be recognized by Education Dive for not just cutting tuition, but for centering our approach around philanthropy that supports St. John’s College students in the science and art of learning, rather than new buildings or athletics programs,” Kanelos said.

“We couldn’t be more proud of our continued commitment to this singular model of liberal arts education.”