Financial Aid for Yeshivos

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  • #589015

    goofy
    Member

    Does anyone have ideas on how to save the Mosdos closing bec. of nasty economy, Ponzi schemes, and the like? Nowadays they all just seem to be running raffles. What can we do?

    #631312

    qaws
    Member

    This is a major problem. The yeshivos are all doing the same fundraisers (the raffles, chinese auctions etc.), and they are all in bad financial shape. The yeshivos need some new, original ideas. Anyone have any?

    #631313

    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    qaws:

    What is wrong with Joseph’s suggestion? Everyone should make additional sacrifices to assure that our communal children are not forced out on the street or CV public school due to lack of funding, as well as people having enough food, clothing, etc.

    When the going gets tough, the Yidden give.

    #631314

    squeak
    Participant

    It’s time for some real, sustainable options. I have always thought that yeshivos are united in a common goal. As such, they should all centralize and have a single administation unit. The cost savings would be phenomenal. An added bonus would be that those in the administration could be highly qualified financial professionals, who would be able to properly handle the large sums of money that yeshivos deal with.

    I could put forward my ideas on other issues, like tuition reform, but a) it won’t help nearly as much and b) it is too much effort to bring reform to one institution at a time, especially since one won’t be willing until all the others are willing too.

    #631315

    lesschumras
    Participant

    POssible ideas:

    1> consider “joint operation agreements” similar to those agreed to by newspapers.

    In a number of cities with more than one paper, they each maintain seperate and

    distinct editorial staffs, but share common costs to get better prices ( i.e.

    newsprint ). Similarly, yeshivas could make similar agreements. Each Yeshiva

    would continue to maintain their own hashkafa and education policies but would

    but would operate jointly administatively. For example, 20 yeshivas would be

    able able to get better prices on everything from supplies, group health

    insurance and dinner expenses if purchased together as one large group rather

    than individually. Some out of town yeshivas wher there are only 2 schools do it

    and it works

    #631316

    The idea has been brought up to register yeshivos as cultural charter schools.

    This would allow yeshivos to cater classes to meet language and cultural needs, while receiving government funding for operations.

    The only downside is that students need to be admitted by lottery.

    However, if the classes are limited to Hebrew/ Yiddish- are we not , most probably, going to limit the application populous to a generally desirable one, regardless, and thereby limit the risk of being required to admit students we would not have otherwise admitted?

    While I do realize that there still is a risk, is the risk so great that it does not outweigh the benefit of eliminating the burden of tuition from thousands and thousands of frum people who are already struggling with the OL of PARNASAH?

    #631317

    SJSinNYC
    Member

    lesschumras, joint operation is nice, but brings up other issues.

    Who do you allow to join this venture? Is it any Jewish school? Does that include reform and conservative? If no, where does the line get drawn? Some people on this site don’t think MO fits into the orthodox category, so its a very touchy subject.

    Otherwise, I think many people underestimate the cost of running a school. The electric/gas/oil bills alone are substantial. Teachers are also vastly underpaid, so we really need to pay them better. What is more important than making sure our kids have a strong Jewish foundation? Yes it begins at home, but school is extremely important.

    Honestly, I think if Jews got together, we could also form a group for health insurance. With so many orthodox Jews in the NY area alone, we would qualify for large corporation discounts. It would require membership somewhere (maybe the OU? They are a fairly neutral company) but would allow lower cost health insurance for much better rates then most people have access to.

    #631318

    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    squeak:

    The issues with consolidation is that you will then have to fire frum yidden who work in the offices, which brings its own problems and shailos that need to be asked.

    #631319

    Joseph
    Participant

    squeak, I’d be interested in hearing your ideas re tuition reform and whatever else you had in mind, that you feel is impractical to implement.

    #631320

    Joseph
    Participant

    squeak, if its from Marvin Schick’s playbook, I probably heard it already.

    Btw Parents: How much are you currently paying for tuition? (real numbers)

    #631321

    squeak
    Participant

    I never read anything by Marvin Schick. But I look at the schools that have adopted an “everyone pays this amount, no excuses” and I see that the per child tuition is pretty reasonable. My example would be the Lakewood and Waterbury yeshiva ketanos. Tuition ranges from $3500 – $5000 per child, no excuses. If you can’t pay it, you can raise it. I see that it is difficult to implement, but I think that those issues can be worked out and every school can operate this way.

    My idea for a centralised administration would not exclude any school, from MO to uber yeshivish. I personally would not want to extend this service to Reform or Conservative (if they even have private schools, that is). The administration would be as non-denominational as possible. They would collect tuitions from each parent (regardless of school) and manage the expenses of each school appropriately. Obviously, lots of details would need to be ironed out. But I do not in any way mean for this organization to manage the curriculum of each school. That job would have to remain local (and salaried through this central org).

    SJS, I’m guessing from your comment about the cost of heating and electricity that you own a home and pay your own bills. Good for you! But while those utility bills seem huge to you (and they are) they are just another expense when running a business. If you looked at how much an office pays for its office supplies, you’d probably be surprised by what you find. Heating and cooling a school costs thousands per year, but it is not a large expense at all in relative terms.

    Everyone was quick to point out the advantages of having this type of group for group coverage. Indeed, this would enable all yeshivos to obtain fair group health premiums, group life premiums, group disability premiums, etc. (But don’t think fair means cheap. If the average yeshiva employee has a large family, K”H, the PMPM health insurance cost will not be very low). There are numerous other advantages, too.

    #631322

    SJSinNYC
    Member

    Squeak, yes I do pay my own bills – I also work for the utility company so thats always on my mind LOL!

    I dont know about reform, but conservatives have Solomon Shechter, and probably others.

    Squeak, while Lakewood (I dont know much about Waterbury) only charges $3500-$5000, the quality of education is generally subpar to other schools (specifically in secular studies). Where I live, tuition is between $12,000 – $15,000 [Yeshiva of North Jersey, Moriah, Yavneh]. I cannot imagine getting the quality of education at Yavneh for $3500 to $5000 in Northern NJ.

    #631323

    Joseph
    Participant

    squeak, you realize that Chasidish (and to a slightly lesser extent, very Yeshivish) Yeshivas charge (relatively) very little in tuition. Paying 4,000/year is considered high in those school, and only met by the wealthier parents.

    #631324

    squeak
    Participant

    errr, the quality of the education (by which you of course only mean secular education) is subpar by choice (in the schools you are referring to). There are other schools that manage a fine quality. The 12-15K amount that you mention is by and large used to subsidize the non-paying families.

    BTW, you just gave away your identity (to me). There are only 3 frum girls who became engineers at CCNY in recent years. Not all of them took internships at ConEd either. (Of course, I doubt that others in the CR will be able to access the information I have).

    #631325

    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    squeak:

    Is $3500-$5000 for the 10-12 children B’H (35 – 50 K) really obtainable for a Kollel couple, even with collecting?

    As far as an Idea, the yeshivos shold have extended hours for full paying parents for a small fee. It will promote full payment of tuition and allow teachers to be paid more (for the longer hours). Yeshivas will have a net gain due to additional full paying parents.

    #631326

    squeak
    Participant

    GAW, I don’t see what your point is. Does having a large family entitle them to discounts (which is essentially dipping into others’ pockets without them knowing)? They could apply for grants, or raise the tuition themselves. Why should others have to do this work for them (which is how it is done now)?

    #631327

    SJSinNYC
    Member

    Squeak, I didn’t go to CCNY 🙂 And I am a permanent Con Ed employee – not an intern. I’ve been with the company almost 4 years.

    I didn’t talk about volume of secular education – just quality. There is no reason why math (which is actually very important in learning halacha) can’t be taught better at some of these schools. Its not always quantity, but quality.

    Yes, there are other schools that are cheaper than the $12,000-$15,000 who have great educations. But Joseph asked what parents pay and although my son is not in Yeshiva yet, I started researching numbers. Those are actual numbers from parents who pay.

    Yes, of course that is subsidizing. But keep in mind – where I live, most of the parents both have professional (or semi-professional) jobs, or one parent is well paid. There are also less children per household (the new MO regular number is approximately 4 based on an unofficial poll), so even parents that struggle have less children to send through Yeshiva. Tuition might be double (or a little more), but the cost is the approximately the same as having 8-10 kids in Yeshiva at half the cost.

    #631328

    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    squeak

    Member

    GAW, I don’t see what your point is. Does having a large family entitle them to discounts (which is essentially dipping into others’ pockets without them knowing)? They could apply for grants, or raise the tuition themselves. Why should others have to do this work for them (which is how it is done now)?

    Yes it does, since the other options (telling them not to have children or sending them to public school) are unacceptable. Raising 50K (even using grants and collecting 24/6) or even 25K is not practical. Yes, those who pay full tuition will lose out, but what choice do we have?

    The only thing I can think of is telling them to homeschool, but the quality of education will be minimal (no english studies, no Gemorah, etc.), and it will perpetuate poverty (unless the children cant get a shidduch, which is highly likely). If you have a better idea, I would love to hear it.

    #631329

    squeak
    Participant

    OK, good. I’m glad that I don’t know who you are (though with all the personal info you share, I have no doubt that plenty of people could figure it out).

    I, too, am concerned with quality. And quality does not need to be compromised on. Let’s say that net revenue per pupil (tuition+fundraising) is higher for your $12K schools. Do you think that extra money buys extra quality math education? I don’t. It is the desire of the parent body, coupled with the curriculum set by the school principal that determines quality. The extra money might buy more playground equipment, or better landscaping.

    And just BTW, I don’t think that the net revenue per pupil is higher for the $12K tuition schools.

    #631330

    lesschumras
    Participant

    “lesschumras, joint operation is nice, but brings up other issues.

    Who do you allow to join this venture? Is it any Jewish school? Does that include reform and conservative? If no, where does the line get drawn? Some people on this site don’t think MO fits into the orthodox category, so its a very touchy subject.”

    It’s not a question of who do you allow. You could have multiple ventures( i.e one for MO,another for chareidi, another for yeshivish etc ).It’s up to the schools themselves. In any event, the venture does not depend on hashkafa. In one example that I am aware of, one school is yeshivish, with separate ( 2 miles apart ) boys and girl’s divisions and the other is a MO coed day school. They have one dinner ( saving expenses , and it held in a manner that satisfies the yeshivish yeshiva ) and share all expenses proportionally.

    #631331

    brooklyn19
    Participant

    no but how do the school with lower tuition make it? how do they make payroll every month? i work in a school with pretty high tuition and they aren’t exactly rolling in dough. and i’m talking pre-recession.

    #631332

    lesschumras
    Participant

    ” It is the desire of the parent body, coupled with the curriculum set by the school principal that determines quality. The extra money might buy more playground equipment, or better landscaping”. I wish it were so. You can have the best curriculum in the world but, if two schools were competing for the better of two rebbeim, where would the better, more qualified rebbe go, the financially sound yeshiva that paid good wages, on time and with benefits, or the yeshiva that that whose wages, low to begin, are often late? As a parent, assuming no fiffrences in hashkafa, where would you send your cjild, the scholl with limited resources or one whose higher wagws attracts better teachers?

    #631333

    SJSinNYC
    Member

    Squeak, to be honest, I don’t really care if people figure out who I am. So you know who I am? And? You need more information than that to steal my identity. So you know my employer – most people I know do. I’m not giving out any classified information here that I wouldnt have given out to people I meet.

    IIRC, Joseph is from the greater monsey area, and I really wonder if I know him. I would love to meet Anon and Oomis (and some others) and I wonder if I know them.

    Back to the topic at hand – the schools I listed above have much more stringent requirements for teachers (many require masters to teach). In many cases, better training leads to better teaching. Part of this is because training helps teachers control a class and then can relay the subject better.

    I had some teachers in my youth that were basically “straight out of seminary” teachers who may have known plenty about the topic but were not cut out to be a teacher because they had no understanding of how to teach or how to control a class. Could this be taught on the job? Yes, but training helps. Training costs money.

    Granted, at a certain point, more money doesnt do anything to help.

    I didn’t say net revenue per student was higher, just cost per family is approximately the same.

    #631334

    squeak,

    there are several flaws in your tuition reform idea. Some people cannot raise that kind of money no matter how much they may want to. This can be due to shyness, not having connections to any wealthy people, working crazy hours and/or multiple jobs, spending their days and nights caring for elderly parents or sick family members etc. What should those ppl do? Send their kids to public school?

    Also, a school as a whole can do certain things like chinese auctions, dinners etc to raise money. Individual parents can’t do that.

    #631335

    squeak
    Participant

    All of you make good points. I hope I can take some time to think about it before replying. I will try to get back to everyone that I don’t address in this post.

    GAW – According to your logic, it is the obligation of the greater community to provide schooling. This logic is the same used by the US Government, leading to the institution of public schools and education standards. Great. I agree. But taking that analogy to the frum communities, that would mean that the burden should be placed on the COMMUNITY to fund the local yeshivos. Not just on the school parents who have the ability to pay. So don’t feed me the line that the destitute families are entitled to bleed dry the ones who are squeaking by (pun intended). The parents with the ability to pay should not be forced to pay more than full tuition (defined as the ACTUAL cost of schooling a child). Those who cannot shoulder the burden should not be allowed to pass their burden onto other parents; if anything, they should pass it on to the entire community equally.

    Just a quick answer to the points about paying teachers a decent wage: If administration is centralized, then wages and benefits would be uniform for all participating schools. The only differences would be regional adjustments (A NYC school would pay their teachers fractionally more than a Lakewood one) and these differences would also be reflected in the tuition. Obviously, the wages would have to be adequate (though not luxurious).

    Part of my idea is that with true financial experts managing the enormous cash flows, the money can be stretched as far as it is prudent to. The average yeshiva administrator does not have this type of expertise, and though he or she no doubt does his best, that is just not comparable to the job a Wall Street pro can do.

    #631336

    squeak
    Participant

    chuck, the school events can and should continue. Or better yet, they should all be run under the auspices of the central organization. The funds that these events raise can be used to create the grants that the families in such situations can apply for.

    Indeed, your point about how the schools can run events that the parents cannot is a VERY good one. Let’s take it one step further. I say that a strong central organization can run events that individual schools cannot – thereby raising a greater amount of funds with more efficiency. Plus, it will cut down on the sheer VOLUME of solicitations that each of us receives. Imagine if you were only on ONE MAILING LIST!!!

    Now imagine the kind of events that this organization can run. A chinese auction? Yes, on an Oorah scale! How about more – a concert in MSG, say? How much revenue do you think that can bring in? I’d say more than 40 chinese auctions. And the people would be paying for something they like to do anyway. A dinner? Maybe, but think about how diverse the pool of honorees can be! We don’t have to honor the same 2 local gevirim each year, we can really mix it up – and reach out through them to many rich and powerful people and organizations that would never consider contributing to yeshivos on their own.

    Keep in mind – all this is coming from my humble little brain. Imagine what a professional fundraiser could come up with. And imagine what a professional administrator could do with this idea.

    #631337

    Joseph
    Participant

    squeak, GAW gave a very valid and well put retort in his last comment, which I presume you accept as you have not responded to it.

    #631338

    Joseph
    Participant

    squeak, our posts crossed.

    Indeed you may be correct that it is a communal responsibility to subsidize the non-wealthy. But how can such a mechanism be enforced? I think it cannot effectively be done so. Therefore the only alternative is to fund it vis-a-vis the wealthy parents. I see no alternative.

    You have not addressed GAW’s point if a parent of 10 children after is all said and done CANNOT pay 3500 – 5000 per child. I doubt you suggest Public School.

    #631339

    squeak
    Participant

    Joseph, GAW’s point is a good one, as I have said. This issue can be addressed, and perhaps my quick reply was somewhat on track to a real solution. I’d just like to address the rest of your points with a few bullets:

    1) It is not funded vis-a-vis wealthy parents. It is funded through all parents. Every parent is required to pay full tuition + subsidy (an amount that, if paid by all, would far exceed the needs of the school). It is then up to the discretion of the school to decide how much of a “break” the family deserves based on their assessment of how “wealthy” the family is. This involves divulging a lot more personal information than one should have to (indeed, more information than is currently needed to run for president of the USA). I hope you can see an alternative now.

    2) I believe I have addressed the point about those who CANNOT pay. I said that a) the family must be required to bring in a reasonable amount through their own fund raising and b) there must be grant funds available for such families to cover the shortfall between their fund raising and total tuition. I think I gave a lot of detail about how those grants could be funded, too.

    3) We can “enforce” the communal responsibility to fund yeshivos by having community affairs and fundraisers (that raise money for the grant programs). Though fundraising through such entertaining means as a concert or the like may not seem like “forcing them to pay their due”, it accomplishes the same purpose. They are supporting the yeshivos. Better yet, they are doing it happily.

    #631340

    Look, the fact is that the current system simply isn’t sustainable. I wish it were, but it isn’t. My husband accidently walked in on a conversation that two teachers at our son’s school were having. They were complaining about families on scholarship who the go on fancy vacations. And they are right- the bottom line is that we have to get serious about our kids’ education (we’re one of the full tuition payers). Are we creating (sustaining?) a culture of taking handouts? Because at this point, the poor are taking handouts from those of us working maximum hours and just barely scraping by. It won’t work- it isn’t working. The charter school idea here is interesting, but it would mean that our kids would be in school not only with Jews of other backgrounds, but non-Jews of backgrounds. If you don’t think X-ian fundamentalists would jump at the chance to send their kids to a charter school like this, I think you are sadly mistaken. If this is the direction we want to go in, we have to decide if the risks are worth the rewards.

    #631341

    Joseph
    Participant

    squeak, your three bullet points in your last comment, if you think about it in depth, is more or less how the system currently works.

    #631342

    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    squeak:

    As Joseph pointed out, there is no way to enforce a taxation system on non-school parents to fund the “grant” fund (fundraising is what is done currently & does not work), and raising the money is not practical, as you agree.

    The only practical method I see to to give incentives to pay full tuitiona and disincentives for non-payment. For example, PTA can have the Rebbe go to the house of full paying parents at a convinent time for them, but non-full paying have to go to school when it is convinent for the rebbe. Extra-cirricular activities (both hebrew & english) only open to full-paying parents, which allow them to cut back on after-school babysitting costs.

    In short, those who are poor will be unable to pay no matter what you do, so you may as well convince those on the margins not to ask for a break.

    Thank you squeak & Joseph.

    concerned mother: We have created a society of handouts. We get it from the Gedolim in EY who say time and again that funding for yeshivos from the govenment is their #1 priority. Those who take in America just follow by taking both from the govenment programs (rather them than others!) and from their fellow Yidden in form of tuition Tzedakka. Who are we to argue?

    #631343

    cantoresq
    Member

    To answer Joseph’s question, I pay $17k a year for two kids; one in 3rd grade the other in kindergaarten. They go to the cheaper of the two schools in my area that are acceptable to me and my wife. The other school costs around $20k. The tuition issue will be resolved by lesser committed parents who will opt to send their kids to public school. I think when that happens, Orthodox schuls will re-start the after school talmud Torahs of yore in order to keep those families afiliated with the community. Other paretns may decide to go for that option also, and that is when tuition will start to go down. It’s all about competition and supply and demand. And it’s already happening; both in places like the Five Towns, NYC and “out of town.”

    #631344

    squeak
    Participant

    I really didn’t mean to get sidetracked into a discussion about tuition reform. That was a secondary topic. I think that my lack of inside knowledge in this area is going to show in any reply I give on this, and it is detracting from the main discussion that I brought up, about a centralized administration for yeshivos.

    #631345

    artchill
    Participant

    Your original idea is brilliant in theory and paper ONLY.

    *It would turn into hefkeirus and politics awfully quick. Look at Israel, the Ashkenazim don’t believe Sefardi schools should be supported, the majority of Israelis finds no use in yeshivish schools, and the yeshivish aren’t makir the needs of the Chassidim.

    *What happens when the brilliant fundraisers give the moneys raised by the community for the community to one whopper donor’s investment firm to help raise extra revenue. This is ma’aseh bechol yom in Federation funding. This exposes our tzeddakah dollars to extreme risk.

    *There will have to be EXTREME oversight, auditing and open accountability to the community it won’t happen.

    #631346

    squeak
    Participant

    I would be comfortable if there was a Rabbinic advisory board, similar to the Moetzes that presides over the Agudah. The rabbonim on the board would be the ultimate arbiters. I don’t think that only Agudah rabbonim should be leading the administration; it should definitely include other denominations. And since schools can choose whether or not to participate under this umbrella organization, if they don’t like the board they don’t have to join. Obviously though, it would be advisable for the board to be pleasing to the greatest number of schools possible.

    #631347

    lesschumras
    Participant

    Squeak, you wren’t sidetracked. Tuition reform is directly tied to centralized administration. The latter is needed to bring down costs, the former is needed to make sure that some of that reduced cost translates to lower tuition. Part of centralized administration has to be making the whole budgeting and expense process open and visible to the community, including regular audits by independent accounting firms. One of the most frustrating experiences I had when my kids were younger was getting annual tution increases without any explanation offered or available. Community funding should not be an open , unaccountable, checkbook.

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