Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Why, when, and by whom was the school founded? Where is the school located and does it have multiple campuses?
A. Preparing children for a faith-based life built on a strong foundation of academic excellence and personal character was the dream of Providence Academy’s Board Chairman and Founder in 1994. After gathering a visionary group and working for many years, the vision turned into reality, and ground was broken on March 25, 2000. The Academy first opened its doors to just over 200 students in September 2001 at its new campus located in Plymouth, Minnesota (just northwest of Minneapolis) and houses the entire student body conveniently under one roof.
Q. What organizations accredit/approve Providence Academy?
A. Providence Academy is accredited by the Independent School Association of the Central States (ISACS) and is approved as a Catholic School affiliated with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as well as by the State of Minnesota Department of Education. In addition, the Academy is a member of The College Board, ERB (Educational Records Bureau), the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC), and the Minnesota Association of Independent Schools (MAIS).
Q. Who attends Providence Academy?
A. Our student community is a multi-talented group of over 830 students coming from over 60 cities/towns in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area, with a handful of students hailing from outside of the U.S. Demographically, two-thirds of our students are Catholic and students receive tuition assistance. The student body is comprised of boys and girls in Pre-kindergarten through 12th grade (approx. 300 in the Lower School, 200 in Middle School, and 330 in the Upper School).
Q. Are non-Catholic students welcome at Providence Academy? Are there religious requirements?
A. Yes, Catholics and non-Catholics alike are most welcome! Religious life at Providence is integral daily. Religious education is required Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade, including Biblical foundations, solid catechesis, and ongoing evangelism. Fidelity to the teaching authority of the Catholic Church assures that our students encounter, and are invited to embrace, the fullness of the Christian faith in their lives. We pray as a community twice daily, at the day’s beginning and at noon, and students attend Mass weekly with classmates in their division (i.e. Lower, Middle, and Upper School). Our campus ministry program offers retreats with the help of NET Ministries, a national group headquartered in St. Paul that specializes in evangelizing and discipling youth. ‘NETters’ are known for their fidelity and energy and are a special gift in our community.
Q. Are uniforms required for all Providence Academy students?
A. Yes, students are required to wear school uniforms, which must be purchased directly from one of three approved uniform suppliers (Land’s End, Donald’s, or Educational Outfitters). The school uniform contributes in a substantial way to the overall identification of Providence Academy. The uniform enhances student morale and the learning environment. Please access theLower School, Middle School, and Upper School uniform web pages for more information.
Q. Does Providence Academy provide busing options?
A. Yes, our bus fleet travels throughout the metro, bringing students to school conveniently, safely, and efficiently, on a daily basis. Learn more about options, routes, and rates, by visiting our Transportation web page.
Q. How long is the school day? Does Providence Academy have an Extended Day program?
A. The school day lasts from 8:30 a.m. – 3:15 p.m. Students may arrive as early as 7:30 a.m. and the Lower School After School Program (‘Kidventures’ and ‘Little Pals’) is offered at an additional cost from 3:15 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. The Middle School offers an After School Program at no additional cost. Please visit the Extended Day page for more information.
Q. Where do students eat? What lunch options are available?
A. All Providence Academy students eat in our Great Room. They can choose to bring their own lunch or can purchase a school lunch provided by Taher, a Minneapolis-based food services company. Taher provides popular, healthy, varied, and well-balanced menus on a daily basis for $4.25 with designated beverages (e.g. milk, bottled water) included for all students, regardless of lunch option. The main entrée includes optional soup and salad bar for all students and Middle and Upper School students have an additional “grill” option available. Lower School parents are invited to eat lunch with their students, if they wish. Please visit the current Lunch Menu to view daily lunch offerings.
Q. What arts and athletics offerings are available?
A. In addition to academics, Providence Academy holds that arts and athletics are important to the education of a well-rounded student. Beginning in the Lower School, students learn the fundamentals of art, take up musical instruments, and participate in concert performances as vocalists and instrumentalists. Middle and Upper School students continue developing their artistic abilities through music classes and concerts, theater courses/clubs and productions, as well as through art classes and individual instruction (e.g. strings lessons). Upper School students may pursue a comprehensive studio arts program (with portfolio development), including drawing, painting, printmaking, 3-dimensional design, and clay. Visit our Fine Arts web pages for more information. Providence Academy athletics seeks to instill our mission of faith, knowledge and virtue in our student athletes and it is our belief that the experience of being an athlete at Providence Academy will enhance the character and virtue of all students at the school, and its reward will be lasting and lifelong. Please visit the Athletics pages for more information, as well as our Activities pages to learn more about additional extra-curricular offerings in each division.
Q. When is the best time to visit Providence Academy?
A. Prospective families may schedule a visit throughout the year, whether for an evening Open House, a morning Preview Day, a student Day Visit (half or full “shadow” day for older students, shorter for younger students), or for an individual tour. The best time to visit is during one of our Admissions events. Contact the Admissions Office at 763-258-2502 for more information.
Q. Are tours available outside of Open House/Preview Day events?
A. Yes. Individual tours are available year-round during Admissions Office hours, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except for holidays when the school is closed. Please note that Christmas break, spring break, and summer break Admissions Office hours are Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Please contact the Admissions Office at 763-258-2502 to schedule a tour.
Q. When should we begin the application process?
A. We encourage prospective families to begin the application process in September or October of the fall preceding the school year a student wishes to attend Providence Academy. Completed application received by our January Priority Deadline will receive admission decisions by late February. Beginning in March, we will continue to accept applications throughout the rest of the year on a space available basis (including for mid-year entry). Please visit the Admissions Process page for details.
Q. Does Providence Academy accept international students?
A. Providence Academy has an school-to-school exchange partnership with an American School in Madrid, Spain. In addition, PA admits a limited number of international students into the high school program on a one-year exchange (J-1 Visa) through approved international exchange organizations with whom the Academy has set up special partnership. PA does not accept international students before high school unless they are living with their parents in the Twin Cities area. Please contact the Director of Admissions and Marketing for more information.
Q. What are the criteria used for admitting students?
A. When selecting new students to join our community, our Admissions Committee looks at several areas, including the student transcript/grade report, academic recommendations, assessments and standardized test results, student and parent interview responses, and extra-curricular involvement. It is important for our community that we admit students who will be positioned for a successful academic career as well as who will embrace our school mission. Please visit our Admissions Process page for details.
Q. Are any applicants given priority consideration?
A. Yes. Siblings of current students are given special consideration if they apply by the priority deadline. PA prefers to keep families together; however, admission is not automatic. All applicants, regardless of family connection to the school, are evaluated according to the same criteria. All admissions decisions weigh the best interests of the individual child and the school.
Q. Are letters of recommendation required for all applicants?
A. Yes. Lower School applicants (those entering Pre-K through 5th grade) must have one academic recommendation form from a current teacher (Pre-K and Kindergarten candidates with no prior school experience are exempt). Middle and Upper School applicants (those entering grades 6 and above) must have two academic recommendation forms from current teachers (one from a Mathematics teacher and one from an English teacher). Personal recommendations are not required but will be included as part of a student’s application file if received. Please note that personal recommendations are most appropriate from people who know the student personally.
Q. Does Providence Academy make use of a wait pool?
A. Yes, depending on current year and optimal class sizes. If we have reached optimal enrollment, we will place admissable students in a wait pool. Offers of acceptance from the wait pool will be made on a rolling basis throughout the spring and summer months as openings become available. Wait pool activity varies from year to year and is impossible to predict. Please contact the Enrollment Manager for more information on the wait pool.
Q. Is financial assistance available and how is it funded?
A. Providence Academy endeavors to make attending our Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools an affordable and wise financial investment for any family. The school relies on revenue sources such as annual giving to fully fund the financial aid, grants, and other sources of assistance that make attending Providence a reality for our families. In 2015-16, PA awarded nearly $3 million in tuition assistance to PA families.
Q. Who should apply for financial aid?
A. Anyone concerned with meeting the cost of attending Providence Academy is encouraged to apply for financial aid. Many factors are taken into account during the financial aid application process provided by TADS (Tuition Aid Data Services), the third-party partner company which processes Financial Assistance applications for Providence. Applying does not guarantee assistance, but if a family does qualify for aid the school will work within the parameters of the award. Please contact Josh Anderson, our Enrollment Manager, for more information on this process.
Q. How do I apply for financial aid?
Q. Does the school set priorities when allocating aid?
A. First consideration of budgeted dollars is given to renewal applicants (i.e. current students) who have completed all financial aid application requirements by the deadline. Secondly, new financial aid applications among current students and from newly admitted students will be considered. Tuition assistance is not available for international exchange students. Finally, new and renewal applications completed after the specified deadlines are considered for any funds that remain or that may become available at a later date. Funds are not guaranteed for families whose forms are received after the deadline.
Q. Who determines a family’s need? Is the information confidential?
A. Providence Academy employs a third party assessor, TADS (Tuition Aid Data Services), for all tuition assistance applications. Evaluations result in a variety of grants for families in varying amounts of tuition covered. These grants reflect the availability of funds in the greater pool of candidates as well as assessment of individual student/family financial need. Tuition assistance awards are determined by a very small committee that does not include faculty. No one outside of that committee and the Business Office are aware of who receives assistance.
Q. Is financial aid automatically renewed each year?
A. Providence Academy requires families receiving aid to re-apply each year. Understanding that it is the family’s obligation to make sure all accounts with the Business Office are current, if a family is in arrears and has not made special arrangements with the business office, the Financial Aid Committee may not allocate aid for the following year. If a family’s financial status changes, the amount awarded may be more or less aid in any given year.
Q. What about separated or divorced parents?
A. Providence Academy expects that separated or divorced parents will contribute to the cost of their child’s education regardless of whether or not there is legal obligation for them to do so. In the cases of divorce or separation, PA requires information from both natural parents and step-parents. We can appreciate that these are difficult times for families but we require that each parent complete and submit a TADS (Tuition Aid Data Services) application. While the financial aid committee will consider the assets of both natural parents and step-parents in determining an award, the committee considers the other obligations of those step-parents.