Readers’ Scoop: Tuition Horror Stories

Readers-Scoop-Logo smallA friend of mine recently bemoaned that he received a letter from his children’s school that stated he had to come up with $3000 if he wanted his kids to be able to attend school next year. This man isn’t the type that tries to avoid tuition with excuses. In fact, he requests that part of his paycheck go directly towards his kid’s tuition. He once told me that he is makpid to pay as much of his kid’s tuition as possible because it ensures the purity of their Torah.

I understand the fact that chedarim and yeshivas have bills to pay as well as Rabbeim. I understand that they struggle for money just as much as many members of our kehilla do. Nevertheless, the solution can’t be to demand money from people who simply don’t have it.

I am not a posik, but I believe there might be halachic issues with pressing parents for tuition who simply don’t have the money. School vouchers could be a solution to this problem, but the NJEA will fight tooth-and-nail to prevent Christie succeeding in this legislation. Ultimately, I don’t think the 90% of the state legislatures who depend on NJEA donations and endorsements are going to go with Christie on this issue. I don’t know if the following is a solution, but perhaps it could relieve some of the financial burden that terrifies people like my friend. I propose Lakewood set up a tuition Gemach. Yes, I am aware that it would be a difficult task to raise the amount of money needed to get this Gemach off the ground. Furthermore, I know that many would seek to abuse the Gemach by borrowing and then defaulting do to the nature of the loans that this Gemach would be distributing. Nevertheless, I believe that with the right fundraisers involved in building the Gemach and a set rule of restrictions on the loans that this idea could be implemented. An example of what I mean by having the right fundraisers behind this Gemach is getting the people who have a reputation for being able to raise millions of dollars with one or two fundraiser events. The Torah allows a person to distribute a loan with collateral taken. In light of the fact that a person might be borrowing up to 3-4 thousand dollars a year the Gemach should be granted the means to collect the loan through Beis Din and a lean on the person’s car or something else of value.

I admit there are still holes in this idea. Perhaps, a more practical solution is needed. One thing is for certain, this problem has to be recognized and hope in school vouchers can’t be the only solution.

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  1. the problem is the people think the school should raise the money.And all the excuses for not paying tuition but evryone manages to pay their bills but when it comes to tuition the schools are the problem

  2. Maybe this father should have to collect the money for the School. Why when it comes to Schools do people feel it is OK to just ignore the bill? Maybe he shouldn’t send his kids to camp this summer and use that money to pay up his Tuition. My wife is a teacher in a local School and they are curently 3 paychecks behind and the administrater told her that if all the tuition would be paid up he would be able to give out all 3 checks. So why should the teachers have to be the ones leaving with 2000 grocery bills and borrowing to pay the monthly rent. I think that these fathers that can’t pay the tuition should at least try to collect the money.

  3. i take it non of you guys B”H are having massive financial issues.
    I for one have been on both sides of the fence, and i will tell you that before judgeing or giving ideas you must unfortunately walk in our shoes.

  4. You got it right the schools should put leans on properties and cars if someone doesn’t pay tuition to insure you pay your ballance. It cost the schools alot more than the $3,000-$4,000 per child.

  5. I agree that charging a fair tuition is a necessary cost that has to be paid to enable our yeshivas and schools to function properly. But I have another beef and that is with the so called “building fund” requests.

    When a school that is technically owned by one individual and that one individual makes a decision to build a building for the school then things get pretty tricky.

    The fist couple of grades of parents are essentiality dipping into their pocketbooks to support the construction of a building that will benefit many futures classes to come. But more then that we are essentially creating an edifice that will support the “owner’s” family for many years to come. When I am told that I have to pay an extra 1,800 or $2,000, on top of a $4,000 or $6,000 tuition bill that just isn’t fair and mentsclich.

    If one does the math and adds up the average tuitions being paid then there is an overabundance of money to pay the mortgage plus the day to day expenses.
    Parents of “private” schools arent ATM machines and we should be seen as that!!!

  6. i agree with the writer.
    in fact, i think that the grocery stores do not have a right to collect from people who do not have money, as everyone has to eat and if a guy doesn’t have money…
    I also think that landlords should not be allowed to collect rent from people who are destitute, as everyone needs shelter.
    This line of reasoning can also be applied to clothing stores, auto sales, etc. etc.
    Now, if you give me a moment while i dislodge my tongue from my cheek – a yeshiva is not a money-maker (as opposed to the examples i gave above) the tuition doesn’t cover expenses. Yet, you think that you shouldn’t have to pay? what planet are you from?

  7. I work in a Yeshiva office and the writer does not realize how offensive his words are! how about the Rebbe whose grocer won’t give him on credit because of his $2000.00+ grocery bill and the Rebbe who can’t pay for his out of network medical bill. As well don’t think we’re callous towards the parents, we helped many parents when they disclosed to us that they cant pay for wine and matzos or the parents whose homes are going into foreclosure. We need to be strict in order for us to stay afloat!

  8. First of all, $3,000 for an annual tuition is very cheap for a private school. My child is in a modern orthodox school and we pay $9,000 a year. Secondly, perhaps if people stopped buying $500,000 townhouses with 6 bathrooms and marble countertops, and instead invested in affordable housing, they would have more money left over to pay for their children’s education. How much do you spend on your monthly car lease for your 3 cars? How much do you spend a month on the pizza and chinese takout you have 4 times a week. How much do you spend on having someone else clean your kitchen and bathroom? There is clearly something wrong with priorities in this town, when ever bill and every luxury gets paid, yet people always complain about paying their schools tuition bills.

  9. Most of the times the parents that are behind in paying tuition also do not have money for basics. I have been on both sides of the fence and have paid full tuition for years. In the past few I have been unable to pay on time or full tuition and not because i live in a $500,000 6 bedroom townhouse. I live in a 3 bedroom house with 8 kids and can barely pay the reduced tuition. Yes it is the Yeshiva’s responsibility to raise funds. A Yeshiva is not a university, it is there to bring up the next generation of Baishanim, Rachmanim, and Gomlei Chasadim. The parents should pay as much as they can and the yeshiva must fund raise the rest.

  10. He you guys Bh I was able almost every year to pay tuition in full as I agreed upon by september. Last year it was dec or jan. This year at the moment my business is down. Maybe something will happen so I can continue what I have done in the past.

    Guess what. I don’t own a home. I rent. Maybe I am stupid but I sleep at night knowing I don’t owe money to someone or a credit card. I work more then full time and have about 3 diffrent jobs. And yes in the past I made 150K a year. But if you pay taxes
    (33 percent and up)and your own health insurance ( 23K) you are not left with a lot. And no programs.
    So I have choice -pay tuition or live in a fancy house and owe tuition. For me it is simple. The housing market in Lakewood is still to high. Its a bubble that cannot last. The stores can’t run on large credits…..

  11. When I sent my dear children to Yeshiva in BP, I was struggling to make ends meat for my family. The Yeshiva understood my matziv and told me to give whatever I can afford. This went on for 6 years. Eventually my Pasnasah improved and I was able to pay full tuition.
    My son is now in Lakewood starting up his own business and has borrowed lots of money responsibly. It will take him about a year until he can hopefully stand on his feet. He somehow borrowed $8,000 to help pay for the tuition of his two boys attending one of the most perstigous Yeshivas in Lakewood. The administrator will not except his story and id demanding another $2,000 or “they will not be aloud to attend in September”. He also has told my son that it cost the school over $8,300 per student before the capital building expenses.
    I recently called our local yeshiva in BP and they informed me that their cost are only $3,250 per child. I would assume that schools in Lakewood that are servicing a large portion of Kollel and struggling families would make every effort to lower the costs?
    I have the following two questions for the Deans of Lakewood schools.
    1. How is it that the budget is more then double then a Yeshiva in Brooklyn?
    2. Why is it that when a parent can’t afford full tuition they are threatened that their children can no longer attend Yeshiva?

  12. we all understand that its not the gorocery stores responsibility to take care of needy families . For that we have Tomchei Shabbos . It is not the caterers job to provide free weddings to needy people . For that we have tzedokoh funds and Tiferes Devorah Lekallah . So why is it the Schools job to give charity to needy parents ? Especially when the school is not even charging them for the actual cost of educating their kids ? We as a society definitely need to help needy parents but in no way is this the schools responsibility .

  13. The schoos fund raise to support the 30 per cent reduvtions that most people get . They can not fund raise to cover people bthat do not pay . It is almost impossible for most schools to fund raise more than they already are especially in todays economy .

  14. to #22

    It is also almost impossible for people that have large families to pay over 50% of their income for tuition. The issue should not be us vs. them, the parents and the Hanhala have to work together to ensure the vitality of the Mosdos. Maybe there should be a co-op purchasing set up to help yeshiva’s reduce their expences. Yeshiva’s also need to be more transparent regarding where the money goes. They should give out a list of their expences and income. Maybe they are not spending that wisely. How many times have I received a mailing with too much postage on it?

  15. Maybe there should be an organization that raises funds for people that need help with tuition. There are places that raise for Russians or Baalei teshuva, yet for the regular guy there is no where to turn.

  16. There is never a simple answer. My husband kills himself working 3 jobs, hardly sleeping, and I work, and yet we are still struggling and always in the negative. And we are paying minimal tuition.
    But we also try our hardest to help out our yeshivas with their fundraisers. I always say if you can’t pay full tuition at least do your part to help fundraise for your school. A lot of parents don’t even do that much!

  17. comparatively speaking, when we compare the average tuition rates of Lakewood schools with orthodox schools in other communities, Lakewood schools charge much cheaper tuition. For example, I’ve heard that Teaneck tuition is about $15,000 a year per elementary school child. here in Lakewood, it’s about $4,000. Brooklyn schools are about $8,000 a year. so while tuition is difficult for some, realize that as a community we are paying much less than others.

    another thing to note is how schools elesewhere will often bill tuition based on an income status. meaning, people who earn more pay more, people who earn les pay less. also, if someone lives in and owns a 1/2 million dollar home the school will mention that if they can afford that then they can afford a certain rate tuition.
    also, someone with 2 kids may pay more tuition per child than someone with 8 kids in the school. if Lakewood has a set rate for every child regardless of income, then there will always be those who struggle to pay, since they are not paing based on income but are paying based on a standard rate set by the school.

    another option is if parents cannot afford to pay, I heard some schools offer an option to volunteer for the school functions that raise money, or to fundraise money for the school via alternative means.

  18. What should tgey do? Tgey need to pay the rebbi. Why is uition the thing. We handel? Every high school girl kvetches for 40years about the 3 or 4 thousand a tear and then they go and spend 15 thousand in one year on seminary. Just nuts unfair and wrong!

  19. The only solution is for everyone to be makabel achrayus to do their best to cover the tuition costs. Many people can afford to pay more than they do, but have misplaced priorities. Many people can reach out to relatives for help, but feel uncomfortable doing so. Many people give substantial annual amounts to tzedokoh and would consider changing their priorities to assist relatives (even distant) friends or business acquaintances. It can often be ads in a journal that were never solicited. Raffle tickets, chinese auctions and other fundraisers can almost always be a source for families that make the effort, to cover tuition costs. Almost every moisad will encourage you and work with you to allow such fundraising to cover your costs if the need is really there.

    The schools also need to have the achrayus to understand that not everone is capable of covering their respective costs. They need to encourage maximum tuition payment and parental fundraising when possible, but not to demean parents that ultimately are unable to cover their costs. If everyone would truly feel the responsibility to pay the huge tuition costs for our large families, many fundraising campaigns would yield more substantial results.

    I’m just an ordinary parent, struggling to cover my costs as well, having a teenager do activities with my daughters this summer so that we can defray some of the unnecessary cost of day camp, while we are working. We still dream of the family vacation we have not taken in years despite the fact that we both work.

  20. If yo really believe that it is possible for a school ( elememtary boys or any high school ) to function on 3250 per child to pay Rebeim teachers principals , mortgages utilities expenses etc . Then I have a nice bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

  21. I run to the Brooklyn Yeshiva myself.
    The average class has 30 children, pays about $55,000 per Rebbi and $15,000 for English teacher. That leaves $27,500 for administrative costs per class. The Yeshiva has 18 classes thats almost a half million for administrative budget. The Menhal gets $85,000, and the English principle gets $54,000. The administrator gets $80,000. We have one FT and one PT secretary. Total office expense including office supplies are about $65,000. Lunch program is paid for and janitorial and maintenance costs are under $100,000. And there is an additional $110,000 for other items.

    Let me not mislead you, we have 22 students that are children of staff that don’t pay tuition and we have about 25-30 students that we don’t receive payments from for various reasons. For this reason we ask our parents to pay $5,000 tuition. But the honest actual cost “per student” is $3,250.

    It works in Brooklyn why can’t it work in Lakewood? Even if there are some additional costs how does it cost $8,300 per student? Can someone who runs a Yeshiva in Lakewood enlighten me?

  22. I think you’ve forgotten utilities (phone, electric, gas, etc.), extra-curricular activities, mortgage/rent of the building… That’ll already put you in the negative.

  23. You seem to have a mortgage / rent free school. In Lakewood, it costs about $10,000 per class. In addition you don’t pay utilities, have no nurse, no substitutes, and no tutors. And a school with 540 students definitly has an assistant principal. And you have overstuffed classes. In Lakewood, the usual class size is 25. Plus with 20 rabeyim and pricipal, you would have over 50 children of staff (unless your school is not appropriate for the staff). And how about employee benefits, building and liability insurance.
    All in all, I highly doubt you run a school, as you are missing the basics, just as I’m sure I am still missing much.

  24. I am trying to understand why my sons yeshiva is charging $250 for 9 days of day camp(one being a fast day). I do not thinks its fair. Another thing I don’t understand is why the schools all charge a registration fee of over $100. By the time you are all said and done at the end of the year, it all adds up.

  25. Hey everyone…count your blessings. In my city, registration is $750 per child (earlybird special of $600) and tuition per child is anywhere between $13,000 and $18,000 per child. My friend whose husband is a very successful doctor just went back to work to help cover the $85,000 tution bill she has from her 6 children.

  26. it does not cost 8300 in most schools but it certainly costs way more than 3250 . Its about 4000 to 4200 in girls elementary schools ,about 5,000 to 5500 in boys elementary schools ,and about 5500 to 6000 in girls high schools in Lakewood . Boys Mesivtas vary a lot depending on class sizes and dormitory or not .

  27. It costs an average of $4,700 per kid to run a Yeshiva in Lakewood. Dont forget lunches, mortgages, utilities, supplies, copiers, buses etc. not to mention the salaries of rebbeim, teachers, remedial teachers, subs, assistants, secrataries, bookkeepers, librarian, etc.

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