Answers for the tuition crisis

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  • #1685016

    DaMoshe
    Participant

    I’m sure I don’t need to go into the details regarding the tuition crisis in the frum world. Suffice it to say that most frum families struggle to pay tuition for their children, and the vast majority of families receive some type of financial aid.
    In Central New Jersey, a program was implemented a few years ago, called TuitionMAX, and I believe it can be used as a model for other areas, to try and alleviate this burden.
    The program is run under the Federation of the Greater MetroWest. As such, it is not limited to Orthodox schools – it includes 2 Orthodox schools, 1 Conservative school, and 1 non-specific Jewish school.
    A generous family supplied a grant to cap the tuition that any parent pays. The percentage is based on where your gross adjusted income falls, but it ranges from 15% – 18%. So, for example, if your total household income is $150,000, your tuition will be capped at 15%, which is $22,500. It doesn’t matter if you have 3 kids or 10 kids in the school, that is what your tuition is. (If your total is less, obviously you pay less – this is a cap, not a tuition calculator).
    This has had a major impact on schools in the Central NJ area. I have friends who’ve told me that it has made things significantly easier for them. I’ve heard that people have considered having more children, because now tuition wouldn’t be as much of a financial factor. It has also attracted people to the area.
    I think we need to get the support of some of the big baalei tzedakah – Rechnitz, Herzka, and others. With their backing, a program like this can be implemented, and can alleviate a huge burden from thousands of families.

    #1685077

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Getting a “Rechnitz” to pay is a bad plan, what if one day Rechnitz loses his money or when he hits 120 years and the money is not available anymore. You need a community buy in however that isnt going to work for alot of reasons, but in your example how are you going to get the orthodox to pay for a non-orthodox school or how are you going to get people to pay, How are you going to force them? How are you going to force a Senior citizen on a fixed income to pay or someone who lost their job

    #1685091

    kollelman
    Participant

    We should probably work politically to get vouchers for the value of savings we are providing for the local board of education. In NYC that’s 18-21k per student. That’s an insanely high number due to unions and other factors. Regardless, 5-8k per student should probably be enough to decently fund a full year of education.

    #1685099

    adocs
    Participant

    How does it work if family has kids in different schools? Charge proportional to number of kids? Proportional to original tuition asking price?

    #1685131

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    I find it ironic, People are complaning that union teachers are paid high, but have no problem giving some Morah with 7 kids and a husband in kollel minimum wage to teach the kinderlach

    #1685149

    CTLAWYER
    Participant

    @zahavasdad
    I believe teachers should be well paid.
    That said, one must realize that the union teacher in the public school district has a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, state certification, a teaching license, is required to attend professional development classes and in some states obtain a master’s degree within 5 years.

    That Morah who is receiving a low wage may only have a Bais Yaakov education and a year in Israeli seminary.
    This doesn’t mean she isn’t a good teacher, but we are not comparing the same job and requirement for employment.

    When a cleaning lady who doesn’t speak much English gets $30/hour, that Morah should be paid at least $50.

    #1685158

    The little I know
    Participant

    ZD:

    I agree 100% that the crazy high wages because of unions are unfair and a drain on society. i also agree that our morahs, rebbes, and the bulk of our mechanchim are seriously underpaid. But I take issue with your argument. Having 7 kids is not the school’s responsibility. Nor is the husband who is sitting in kollel.

    The notion of sitting in kollel is already subjected to notorious abuse. The obligation on the husband/father is to support his family. The כל כבודה has been trashed in order to prop up the kollel myth. No, I am not anti-Torah, nor do I minimize the learning. It is the culture of dependency and entitlement. Sorry, but that’s a socialist value, and I cannot embrace it. The bnei kollel should be the ones whose future is to return the favor to the community, as klei kodesh, for which they should be properly compensated. They should not be on every government handout known, and their wives should not be running around to feed the family.

    Full time learning is either a communal responsibility – one has the capacity to pursue a Torah career, or it is an escape from the responsibility of supporting a home and family. Sadly, the latter is true way too often, and it is displayed as some holy venture when it is not. We have deluded our young boys into believing they will all become gedolei hador without applying themselves to the effort, just by remaining enrolled for a bunch of years and by not accepting jobs anywhere else. We have tricked our young girls into the holy mission of marrying someone who will forever be on the receiving end of entitlement programs, for which they must work at often unfairly low wages. Yes, we have goytes raising the kids, and this is a holy mission.

    The tuition crisis is made ever more challenging because the schools have been receiving less and less government subsidy, and they are only a few of the takers in a tzedokoh market that is crammed with competition. Now that many of the previous generation who went to kollel are the parents of the young families, the ability to share tuition with parents and in-laws ain’t what it used to be.

    We cannot choke the ones who need to be breadwinners by proclaiming them holy when they avoid the workplace, and placing the burden on the נשים צדקניות who need to be home, כל כבודה בת מלך פנימה, raising the children.

    I am not looking to make this thread a debate on kollel life, for which there are many others. But to address in completely outside of that context is irresponsible.

    #1685202

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    I think we need to get the support of some of the big baalei tzedakah – Rechnitz, Herzka, and others. With their backing, a program like this can be implemented

    They give a lot of money to tzedaka, including yeshivos, already.

    The generosity of people like them is one of the reasons tuition in the types of schools they support is much lower than the tuition in the types of schools you refer to in Central Jersey.

    I don’t see how restructuring the system to raise base tuition and move tzedakah funds to subsidize it will solve the tuition crisis. For that, you either need to raise total income for the schools, or lower costs. Shuffling around the same money isn’t a solution.

    #1685204

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    I am not looking to make this thread a debate on kollel life

    Lol

    You take any possible opportunity to bash kollel. ZD mentioning kollel was completely a side point, and you turned it into one of your classic lengthly kollel bashing essays.

    #1685361

    The little I know
    Participant

    DY:

    The reason the low pay, which is unfair, is an issue in the described case is because it is the sole income for a family of 7 children. If it was a supplemental income, the picture would be different. I guess you just don’t get it, and are beholden to the party line of Kollel or Bust.

    Short enough for you?

    #1686212

    Avram in MD
    Participant

    zahavasdad,

    “Getting a “Rechnitz” to pay is a bad plan … however that isnt going to work for alot of reasons … How are you going to force them?”

    You demonstrate an excellent ability to poke holes in people’s ideas. I’m really curious to know what ideas you may have to improve the situation. I’m being serious.

    #1686227

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    There are 2 or 3 organizations that serve to intermediate financial aid requests by parents of boys and girls attending yeshivos so that confidential financial data/documents doesn’t have to be provided directly to the administrative staff of the yeshiva and could be embarrassing to the parents. In many cases, the yeshiva’s admin staff may daven or move in the same social circles as the parents. These organizations audit and verify the documents and suggest suitable levels of financial assistance based on some standard guidelines (e.g. percentage of income, family size, etc.) Hopefully, more yeshivos will implement these types of arrangements.

    #1686235

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Short enough for you?

    Yes, thank you.

    That was one specific case, but most moros are married to husbands who work, but many still struggle to pay bills.

    #1686236

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    I’m really curious to know what ideas you may have to improve the situation. I’m being serious.

    Free tuition for all. That will solve it.

    #1686285

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    The problem is there isnt any easy solution, Vouchers is probably the only viable one but even that has serious flaws (Like the government having the right to dictate what is taught)

    #1686292

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Vouchers is probably the only viable one but even that has serious flaws (Like the government having the right to dictate what is taught)

    The biggest problem is that the government isn’t giving them.

    #1686302

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    In the near-term, there may be some additional security/transportation/special ed type functions where public funds can be applied to private and religious schools but there is zero political support for school vouchers in support of tuition, at least in those states (NY, N J, MD, CA ) where the majority of yidden are located. Maybe Florida, but even there it will be an uphill fight beyond the limited vouchers already provided. The only long-term solution is for Yidden to budget for their kids’ tuition in the same way they budget for housing, clothing and other essential expenses. Since most frum yidden would not find “public” schools to be an option, there is no easy or direct source of funding beyond contributions from wealthy askanim and families’ own funding.

    #1686303

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    I said Viable, I didnt say it was possible now.

    The only other viable idea Ive seen is a communal tax and that also has serious flaws (Like it cant be legally enforced and what if the person really doesnt have the money how are you going to get them to pay)

    #1687157

    👑RebYidd23
    Participant

    You communists shouldn’t get to spend my money on your schools.

    #1687236

    Joseph
    Participant

    “Vouchers is probably the only viable one but even that has serious flaws (Like the government having the right to dictate what is taught)”

    ZD: The government claims the right to dictate what is taught even if the school doesn’t take a penny in government funding.

    RY: These communists shouldn’t get to spend our money on public schools either.

    #1687249

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    “The only other viable idea I’ve seen is a communal tax and that also has serious flaws…
    If a yid is already paying income and property taxes for local public schools he probably will not send his kids to and also is paying tuition to send his kids to a yeshiva/beis Yaakov, having to pay a “communal tax” ordered by some beis din is more likely a bad Purim spiel rather than a serious proposal. The other reality is to scale back the scope of spending by the Mosdos to match their combined tuition/donation income. That may be a painful choice for some, but its reality.

    #1687266

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    The other reality is to scale back the scope of spending by the Mosdos to match their combined tuition/donation income.

    Great idea. Use exclusively volunteer administrators, rebbeim, teachers and staff, and classes should be taught in public parks (those mortgages and electricity bills can be extremely burdensome).

    #1687267

    Joseph
    Participant

    “The other reality is to scale back the scope of spending by the Mosdos to match their combined tuition/donation income. That may be a painful choice for some, but its reality.”

    What exactly do you think can be cut? Yeshivos are on shoestring budgets as it is.

    #1687360

    too geshmak
    Participant

    I know this would never happen but there would be big savings in multiple yeshivos merging together to form very large institutions. The rebbeim for the most part wont be the ones to lose jobs because you would still need x amount of rebbeim and moros for y amount of students, but all the administrative costs, the building costs, operating costs, transportation costs would decrease significantly. Its extremely inefficient to have multiples of small size schools as some of our larger communities have. As I said I know it wouldn’t happen but people said they don’t want holes poked into ideas, they want ideas, so here’s an idea. What do you think?

    #1687377

    👑RebYidd23
    Participant

    Joseph, two wrongs don’t make one right, and also, you could send your kids to public school if you wanted to.

    #1687415

    Joseph
    Participant

    No you cannot send your kids to public school, RY23. That’s akin to murdering them. Every Jewish child has the absolute right and obligation to go to Yeshiva, even if the parents cannot afford a dime on tuition.

    #1687414

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    The “communal tax” is an idea that has been floated around, of course there are lots of hole in it besides someones ability to pay , Would satmar be required to fund more modern Zionistic schools (and vice versa). What about conservative or reform jews in the same neighborhood, how do you get them to pay if they think yeshiva education is a waste (Some conservative and reform jews go to Orthodox synagogues).

    The merger idea sounds good on paper, however the classes are already too large so you cannot merge the classes , You probably have to keep multiple buildings (no reductions on mortgage , utility costs and other adminstrative costs) and lastly there is the problem “Whose yeshiva is it” there are people who like to be in charge, Things like Hashghfa (some might seem minor hashghfic differenes but can be made into major issues)

    I think when the idea of every jewish kid getting a jewish education first came out, they never thought of how to pay for it for the masses. Orhtodoxy was teetering so only the most dedicated went , there were smaller families so it was easier to pay. You will start seeing more dropouts (You already see some already) as families get poorer (THe high cost of real estate in NYC area doesnt help either), people will have to decdide to pay for expensive housing or yeshiva tuition) the problem is getting worse , not better

    #1687394

    Ctrl Alt Del
    Participant

    What if tuition breaks were not breaks, but rather deferments, that you paid off with monthly contributions to the school even after your kids were out? This way there’d be a revenue stream that’s not dependant the on current enrollment of the school. This could be modified by each persons financial situation, such as a taper off towards the end of the obligation. So for example: you have 3 kids in school at 10k each (just an arbitrary number for now, but remember, you wouldnt have these 18k tuitions with funds still coming in from families whose kids have graduated) your obligation is 30k a year for the next 10 years. (I know, at some point one or more kids has left thus screwing up the math a bit, but for simplicitys sake, let’s just use this base number for 10 years.) So you can afford 15k a year paid in 10, $1500 installments over the year,but the other 15k is deferred. After 10 years, you’ve accrued a debt of 150k, which if you continue to pay at $1500 a month (like you’ve been able to do all along) you’ll knock it out in another 10 years (or 8 if you make a payment for all 12 months in a year). Just a thought, what do you think? Of course, the real math is more complicated. This is just a 3am musing…..

    #1687379

    Rafe
    Participant

    Yeshivas must charge what it costs to provide a real living wage to educators.
    Anybody who can’t pay should get loans or get charity from outside sources.
    Its not a tuition crisis it’s a charity crisis. The implication of tuition crises is that the yeshivas created this problem.
    Leave the yeshivas out of it. They arent all equipped to fundraise, and it’s not what we want from them. Why turn rosh yeshivas or school staff into fundraisers?

    The dream is school choice vouchers but until then its the old story of the haves and have nots. The schools do themselves a disservice by providing aid they dont have and that has no gratitude in return.
    Consolidating yeshivas only works when it makes sense communally and logistically. People need different things from the different schools and sometimes buildings are just not big enough.

    #1687472

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    Yeshivos/DY: You agree that parents have been tapped out in terms of what they can afford to pay and the political likelihood of any near-term increase in public sector subsidies is very small. For any business, if your revenues cannot cover your expenses you have the option of floating debt to be purchased by those who believe the world will change in the future and you will have the revenues to pay back the loans (perhaps with interest), ask your employees and vendors to accept lower compensation (aka cut pay for teachers etc) or find other ways of cutting costs (fewer hours of instruction, limit new admissions if they don’t cover marginal costs, etc.) Its economics 101….cut costs or increase revenues (or pay your bills in a new heimeshe yptocurrency endorsed by rabbonim and see if you can find enough yidden to accept it in lieu of dollars)

    #1687481

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    The other option is to form a coaltion with other private school groups and seek to gradually expand the very narrow slice of school expenses (security, transportation, special needs kids, etc.) where the courts have allowed public funds to be expended in support of private schools. I’m doubtful, however, that this will provide the needed funding to keep marginal yeshivos afloat. Thats why the painful choice of cutting costs (where most say there is nothing left to cut) is the only other choice to closing the doors.

    #1687482

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    ask your employees and vendors to accept lower compensation (aka cut pay for teachers etc)

    Why do repeat this silliness? Do you think the yeshivas are intentionally overpaying?

    If you cut teachers’ salaries, you end up with unqualified teachers.

    #1687534

    Curiosity
    Participant

    Why don’t we institute some sort of voucher system where teachers and school employees get vouchers to free or heavily discounted goods and services from Jewish owned vendors and venues. This additional compensation substitute will reduce the income requirements for families of school employees, thereby reducing their need for financial compensation. Then the schools can pay them less and lower tuition for everyone. It’s kind of like communism, but for a good cause and not gov’t controlled.

    #1687549

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Many yeshivas in NY and NJ already get some indirect subsidies like School Bussing , School Lunch programs, Money for Security and other indirect expenses

    Unfortuantly some abused these subsidies like there was a subsidy for Computer equipment that was used for other purposes (The money was specifically for computers and technology , nothing else)

    #1687560

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Why don’t we institute some sort of voucher system where teachers and school employees get vouchers to free or heavily discounted goods and services from Jewish owned vendors and venues.

    Who’s paying for those vouchers?

    #1687599

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    You can cut expenses up to a point and then the only option may be to close the doors….its not that complicated. If you can’t pay a living/market competitive wage to your faculty and staff, than probably unlikely you should be in business since your customers (aka parents of Talmidim) are unable or unwilling to pay your prices for the services (aka torah education) you are providing. I wish there was some silver bullet to fix the problem, but sadly, as most above posters have noted, there is no easy fix absent “free money” from shamayim (aka the government).

    #1687610

    The little I know
    Participant

    DY:

    You wrote: “If you cut teachers’ salaries, you end up with unqualified teachers.”

    Good point. What is so painful to us all is that this is not just a prediction. It has been happening everywhere. There are many who look to enter the chinuch field, having spent their most productive years (for training in a potential job skill) in kollel, which contributed little to nothing for classroom management or curriculum development. These young men (and women) may have all the dedication of the Yidden who contributed to the building of the mishkan. However, the psukim there spell out that the tasks were completed by those with the specific talents and skills. Check that out in this week’s parsha. But without the skills, these wonderful people cannot function well, and are stuck resorting to discipline and crowd control strategies to manage a classroom, where the majority of the task needs to be education.

    Yes, we already have too many unqualified teachers and rebbeim. The situation has improved noticeably (while salaries did not) by virtue of several training programs for mechanchim and related resources. One must credit Torah Umesorah for leading the way, with several other programs that accomplish a lot. But we are still far from doing the job that needs to be done, and our children are at risk of paying the price.

    Even if we insure that all entering mechanchim are duly qualified, there will still be inadequate pay, and the problem won’t go away by fixing the qualification problem.

    #1687645

    CTLAWYER
    Participant

    @curiosity
    The voucher for free merchandise as part of remuneration would also be subject to income tax, payroll tax, etc.
    Why should employees be told where they have to shop. They can’t use the vouchers to pay their home utility bills, or gas up the car.
    The local participating Jewish merchant will be more expensive than the general merchants, This is reminiscent of the company stores who ripped off workers paid scrip 100 years ago.e Bad ideas from the past should be left buried, not resurrected.

    Bad ideas from the past sh

    #1687646

    👑RebYidd23
    Participant

    Joseph, if every child had the right to go to Yeshiva, the Yeshiva would have an obligation to accept them.

    #1687651

    Curiosity
    Participant

    DY. The idea is that schools give out vouchers to school employees for things like food, clothing, gas, etc that are paid for with whatever tuition money is gathered. Then the school employee takes that voucher to do their shopping at the jewish owned venue. The Jewish owned vendor then gives heavy discounts to these school employees when they pay with a voucher.

    So, for example, a voucher “worth” $2.00 costs the school $1.50. The teacher takes the $2.00 voucher to Pomegranate and buys a $2 loaf of bread that costs Pomegranate $1.00. So: Pomegranate makes a $0.50 profit (from the $1.50 actual value of the voucher minus their $1.00 cost), but makes it up in volume from all the school employees who now have to shop there. The teachers are paid in cash-value instead of cash for things they will otherwise spend cash on anyway. And the schools can lower tuition costs because they can save on employee overhead. It’s a win-win-win. Except the minor inconvenience of teachers having to get paid in vouchers instead of cash. But if you make it in the form of a flexible spending card, instead of paper vouchers it would be more secure and less inconvenient. You could also make it only part of their payment instead of all of it, because having cash is important for things like mortgages which cant be paid by card. You could also let teachers control how much they get paid in vouchers and create an incentive by inflating the fictional worth of the voucher to $2.10 instead of $2. Even though it’s actually only worth $1.50 in real money, but that would be dependent on negotiation between the vendors and the schools…

    #1687933

    Rafe
    Participant

    Would this idea make YOU want to be a teacher?

    #1687956

    CTLAWYER
    Participant

    I have been on OOT Yeshiva Day and High School boards (as well as a Mesifta or two) for more than 40 years, following in the footsteps of my father Z”L.
    The only time period when these institutions were self sufficient was in the late 1960s and 1970s. The public schools integrated and Jews were in a panic to place their children into all white educational environments.
    Large endowments and building contributions bought places for children with no previous religious education.

    By 1980 most of those who had lived in the cities had been able to sell their homes and buy.build in the white suburbs and they no longer needed this schooling. The endowments were in place and some continued to donate to annual fundraising drives.
    The most important thing these non-frum Jews did was to get Federations to make Day Schools Constituent Agencies. Thus the entire Jewish community helped support Frum Day Schools and High Schools (as well as Conservative, Reform and nondenominational schools.

    There is not enough donor money to carry the weight in the frum community. Really good fundraisers understand that the entire Jewish community, businesses and institutions should be mined for resources.

    #1687958

    Mammele
    Participant

    This idea has been used for Yom Tov bonuses for either Kollel Yungeleit or melamdim, I don’t recall. Some storekeepers that accepted it grew frustrated quickly. They had to use it on Sale items, essentially losing money.

    And the whole “redemption” process can get messy very quickly if the schools drag their feet with payment. We are talking schools that are likely in dire financial straits to begin with, and they may think of it as an extended payroll loan, hoping that by the time the cash is due the (tuition/Tzeddakah) funds will have become available.

    #1687991

    Haimy
    Participant

    How do the chassidim manage to keep their tuition manageable despite having large families & many lower income parents? Because every member of the chassidus takes responsibility for its mosdos. Even after their children have graduated & moved away.
    We need every member of the community to share the burden of chinuch habonim not just the parents.
    The current yeshiva model does not encourage the broader community to share the burden.
    I don’t know of a solution other than lowering our lifestyle or increasing Parnassa opportunities.

    #1688053

    The little I know
    Participant

    Something seems missing from the entire discussion here. We all seem to recognize the desperate need that yeshivos have for more funding. The abolishing of quite a few such sources from government subsidies made a bad situation worse. Challenging the efforts to correct this is that our communities are overwhelmed with charitable needs, and there are hundreds of organizations created to handle many of these. Shall we address the needs for medical and mental health care? How about infertile couples? How about families that are stricken with disabled parents? The pages of all of our frum media are filled with stories of tragedies coupled with desperate needs for funds. One doesn’t need to look beyond these pages to see the tragic variety of needs. How about the collectors who flood our shuls collecting for various individuals and organizations. Amcha Yisroel tzrichim parnosoh. Yet, anyone on the prowl for funding is apt to view his own cause the only one, or at least more deserving than another. That may be sad, but it is understandable.

    Now, when people’s parnosoh suffers from limitations, will they cut their donations to yeshivos, their shul, other community needs, the collectors from elsewhere, the organizations for medical care funding, those addressing and helping couples with infertility, hachnosas kallah, etc? This can play on people’s emotions, and the efforts to control that are close to futile.

    With all this, the implication from discussions about yeshivos is that these come before any other cause. I do not need to voice a position, just to note that there is a huge range of feelings about this. And this element seems missing from this discussion.

    Try this statement. “It is more important that you donate your big bucks to yeshivos than to support families that need to marry off their children.” Does that go over well? Don’t take sides. But consider this.

    #1688067

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    “It is more important that you donate your big bucks to yeshivos than to support families that need to marry off their children.” Does that go over well?

    No, it doesn’t. Neither does the other way.

    Every individual needs to figure out halachically where his money should go, but I don’t think anyone collecting tzedaka should be pitting his cause against any others. He should solicit for his cause on its own merits.

    #1688087

    The little I know
    Participant

    DY:

    Exactly. The tragedy is that while Klal Yisroel is extremely generous, the needs are also great. The limitations are also there, and the casualties of this leave many in the red. Yeshivos are among those who cannot maintain their budgets. So the struggles continue.

    #1688104

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    The only real answer is move to Europe or Israel where the government pays the tution (Im not 100% sure, but I think the government in Quebec also pays, but not in Toronto) but again Im not 100% sure of that

    #1688157

    Mammele
    Participant

    ZD: And the British Yidden must move to the US because the government is meddling in the chinuch there and mandating subjects that need to be taught. I think Canada has similar issues.

    The only answer is Moshiach. The world is heading in the wrong direction, and NY isn’t far behind when it comes to liberal values being enforced.

    #1688160

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Since none of us is a Navi, we dont know when Moshiach is coming, so you can contiue to pay the yeshiva tuition until then or move to a place where the government pays and wait there.

    I have a sneaky suspicion Moshiach will be announced in both London and NY

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