Providence Mayor Proposes Taxing Private School Students


The city of Providence wants to slap a tax on the head of every private college student in a bid to close a $17 million gap. Students are bummed.

The city of Providence wants to slap a tax on the head of every private college student in a bid to close a $17 million gap. Students are bummed.

The largest city in the geographically smallest state in the nation is proposing to implement a tax that would impact students attending the four private universities located within its city limits.  Students from Brown University, Johnson and Wales University, Rhode Island School of Design and Providence College may soon have to ante up $150 extra each semester simply because their school is located in Providence, Rhode Island.

City Seeks To Close Budget Gap

The proposed fee would help Providence close a $17 million budget gap, one that the city contends is partially due to university property being tax exempt in addition to services such as fire, police and ambulance being provided to the 25,000 students who attend these schools.  The direct fee would come in addition to almost $50 million the schools agreed to give Providence over a 20 year period beginning in 2003.

The city’s mayor, David Cicilline, says that the fee would raise between six and eight million dollars annually, offsetting some of the costs the city must divert to the schools and their students. However, some opponents have pointed out that the city has long been a recipient of free help from students who often volunteer as aids or interns in the public schools. Moreover, analysts say that students spend millions of dollars in the community while attending school.

Public College Students Would Be Exempt

The tax, which would amount to $300 annually for students attending one of the four schools, still needs the approval of Providence City Council and state legislators before the law can be enacted. If the city is successful with its effort it would become the first jurisdiction to levy a tax directly on the head of each student. Students at Rhode Island College, a state school, and the Providence campus of the University of Rhode Island would be exempt from the tax.

A special note to Mayor David Cicilline — cut spending and you’ll be able to balance your budget in no time.  College students already pour millions into your community, they shouldn’t be singled out to pay more.

Adv. — Maintaining good credit during challenging economic times can be difficult, but it certainly isn’t impossible. Visit to find out ways you can manage your budget as well as manage your debt, keeping your finances in order to help ensure a better future for you and your family.


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