The time has come for colleges to make a transformational change around affordability, and St. John’s is taking the lead in redefining the financial model for the liberal arts.

Our solution is simple but powerful: replace a tuition-driven financial model, one that persistently alienates and excludes, with a more durable and sustainable model that is centered on philanthropy.

Our first step was to lower our tuition to $35,000.

To combat prestige pricing, we reduced our published price by one-third, eliminating more than a decade of increases and instantly breaking down one of the biggest barriers to admission. Our new published price more closely reflects the actual amount that a student can expect to pay and better aligns with our core value of offering an honest education at an honest price.

In fall 2019 we welcomed our first freshman class to benefit from this dramatic price reduction.

Dollar Sign Growth Infographic

Our tuition reset, although significant and necessary, was only the first step. The fact remains that the distinctive education that St. John’s offers is still expensive. Even with our lower tuition price, the majority of St. John’s students require financial assistance, and this need will almost certainly grow.  Demographic statistics indicate that a rapidly rising percentage of our students will come from lower-income households, and many will be the first in their families to attend college.

We must solve the problem of maintaining our more affordable price structure and preserving our financial health while still providing meaningful support for students with financial need.

To do this, St. John’s launched Freeing Minds: A Campaign for St. John’s College.

This $300 million campaign will ensure that St. John’s can continue to offer a rigorous liberal arts education at a price that remains defensible.

Of our $300 million campaign goal, $225 million is committed to academic and student support, an area that includes student scholarships, internships and fellowships, health and wellness efforts, and career services, as well as endowed tutorships and other initiatives that directly support faculty. $50 million is aimed at maintaining the financial stability of the college. The remaining $25 million will fund essential campus improvements that shrink the college’s carbon footprint and build community—without adding new buildings.

Freeing Minds will not only address the current priorities of the college but will also create a stronger base of support for the future. One-third of campaign gifts will go toward immediate needs while two-thirds will be invested through the St. John’s Endowment. Adding $200 million to the endowment will more than double its size, further reducing St. John’s dependence on tuition revenue.

Freeing Minds is preserving the essence of what makes St. John’s so very distinct.

The Freeing Minds campaign is as different from the campaigns of other schools as our Program is from their educational offerings. This is not an effort aimed at the big, the expensive, and the unnecessary. It is the fuel for continuing the Great Conversation. It allows future Johnnies with the courage and fortitude to engage the Program, regardless of financial need, to sit around the seminar table in a Johnnie chair and learn in a way that is unlike any other classroom in America. It also allows the college to preserve and continue its distinctive Graduate Institute programs in the Liberal Arts and the Eastern Classics for future GI Johnnies. It allows St. John’s to continue to free minds.

A bold vision and a courageous plan. An ambitious campaign predicated on a new financial model and an extraordinary challenge grant.

A truly transformational pledge—the largest gift in the history of St. John’s—has allowed us to set a goal for the campaign that was previously inconceivable.

Alumni Warren and Barbara Winiarski created a challenge grant from the Winiarski Family Foundation, matching every gift dollar for dollar—up to $50 million dollars— with an equivalent contribution to the St. John’s endowment.

The Freeing Minds campaign, bolstered by this visionary gift, will help keep our distinctive education affordable and accessible to all who seek it, ensuring the future of St. John’s College for many generations to come.