PCHS increases tuition costs

PELLA — Pella Christian High School will raise its tuition costs for the 2020-21 academic year.

Tuition costs will rise to $8,300 for the upcoming academic year, a $465 increase from 2019-20. Pella Christian High School Principal Dan Van Kooten says the 5.5 percent increase was inevitable due to a gap between what is charged and what it actually costs to educate students. He cites this as the school’s greatest challenge.

“Our main goal is to reduce that gap so our school is strong and sustainable,” says Van Kooten.

Van Kooten added not increasing tuition now may cause problems in the future.

“We thought we’d better stay the course, despite all of the issues with COVID-19,” says Van Kooten.

The increase includes registration fees, and most fees will now be part of tuition so families can utilize Education Savings Plans, or 529’s, to pay for tuition.

“Those (529’s) are only eligible for tuition, so if we roll those fees into our tuition amount, then families can use their 529’s saving plans to pay for them,” says Van Kooten. “Many schools are also going away from a fee structure and rolling fees into overall costs to simplify.”

The Pella Christian Finance Committee uses a third party application process to offer assistance to families in need, including tuition assistance provided by PCHS and the School Tuition Organization, a government program. Van Kooten says the school is committed to helping families with what they need in order for their children to receive a Christian education.

“An increase in tuition is always a concern, and we recognize that,” says Van Kooten. “However, what you should know is that we are committed to addressing that need with families, particularly in a year like this. We realize we have families who have lost their jobs, hopefully temporarily, and more who have reduced hours. So, we know that for this year, most families are okay. But if this continues, that might cause complications for some of our families for the 20-21 year.”

The school’s budget for the 2020-21 academic year is $2.9 million, which is $200,000 more than the current year. Enrollment is projected at 255, which Van Kooten says is down from this year. The decrease in enrollment is mostly due to students graduating this spring, according to Van Kooten.

Eighty-two percent of the school’s budget comes from tuition costs, while the other 18 percent comes from gifts and the school’s endowment. Van Kooten says their endowment is over $4 million.

“It’s a great blessing, and it really helps us out that we can use some of that every year,” says Van Kooten.

The school’s largest line item for expenditures is salary and benefits for employees, which is 86 percent of the budget. The remaining expenditures are for supplies and services the school provides.

The school has reduced staff expenditures in order to further reduce the gap between cost of education and tuition. They have also hired an admissions marketing person to hopefully increase enrollment.

“Always, our focus is offering high-quality Christian education to our families that desire that,” says Van Kooten.

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