About one of every four Alabama private schools took Paycheck Protection Program loans, a program designed to help save jobs due to the loss of business from COVID lockdowns.
The private school loans totaled more than $50 million, according to federal documents. All but one of those loans has been forgiven. According to documents, schools said the loans would save 8,600 school-related jobs.
According to documents, at least 132 Alabama private K-12 schools took PPP loans — though it’s hard to check for every school in the state, since there’s no single list of private educational institutions. Some are among the most elite in the state, charging more than $25,000 in yearly tuition. Others hold large endowments.
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The Paycheck Protection Program distributed an initial $350 billion rapidly in its first two weeks, leading to some intense scrutiny. Some large companies later returned their loans. Federal officials also pressured some universities and K-12 schools with large endowments, including Harvard University, to decline or return loans.
Some private schools in Alabama with significant endowments took PPP loans.
Saint James School in Montgomery took the largest amount: Two loans for $1.5 million each.
Tuition at the Montgomery private school ranges from $11,300 for kindergarten to $16,000 for high school, according to its website.
Saint James School reported $10.3 million in net assets, received $9.8 million in tuition and had $1 million in endowments on the school’s 2019 federal tax return.
Randolph School in Huntsville took the highest single loan among private K-12 schools, borrowing $2.3 million in April 2020. Tuition for the current school year ranges from $18,300 to $23,180, depending on the child’s grade level.
Randolph reported $30 million in assets, $16 million in tuition revenue and $19.8 million in endowments on its 2019 tax return.
Saint James and Randolph did not return a request for comment.
UMS-Wright Preparatory School in Mobile took a $2 million loan in 2020. The school’s 2018 tax return showed $13.5 million in tuition revenue, $36 million in assets, and an $8.2 million endowment fund.
The Paycheck Protection Program offered eligible organizations, which include private and charter schools with fewer than 500 employees, forgivable loans up to 2.5 times their monthly payroll, if they agreed to keep staff on the payroll for a specified amount of time.
If used correctly, the loans were forgiven, meaning the schools didn’t have to pay them back.
The first round of PPP loans were distributed beginning in April 2020, with a second round opening in January 2021.
A total of $800 billion in PPP loans were given nationwide. Alabama businesses and organizations received $3.3 billion in PPP loans.
There are 530 registered private schools in Alabama, but more may exist.
- 122 schools took loans in the first round
- 53 schools took loans in the second round
And 43 of those schools took loans in both years.
Here’s the list of private K-12 schools that received PPP loans. Click here if the table doesn’t display correctly.
This story has been updated.