my last article about the tuition crisis in my own Brooklyn
community, many people have stopped me in the street, called
or e-mailed me to discuss their pain and their ideas on this
order to deal with this problem it is imperative that we
all, as a community, understand and agree on some basics.
One key to our children's success is proper education.
Without education our children are missing the foundation to
success in life. Education is a
responsibility of both parents and the community.
The community has an obligation to make sure education is affordable
to every family. Likewise, parents must know
that they have to do whatever they can so their children can
we agree that it is a personal and communal obligation, we
must deal with the realities of life. What can we do about
the cost of education? How do we deal with the expense?
one time it was only educators and scholars who were given
special considerations with tuition because they were under
stress economically. Though we need to have sensitivity for
children of educators and public servants, today the tuition
problem has become more global.
and more people are struggling to make it and are stretched
to the limit. Today even professionals making a nice living
are staggering under the high cost of tuition. It's not
uncommon for a growing family to have six or more children
attending several different Yeshivas and each establishment
is expecting full tuition. I think it is high time that our
educational institutions ask and come up with a reasonable
answer to the all important question, "What
percentage of a family's income should be going to
have to be more concerned with how much tuition they charge,
how they collect it and who suffers the most - the children,
our future - when they act in an inappropriate manner to
collect tuition. Teachers, principals or administrators of
course, need to care and show compassion for each and every
child/family. Even people on a tuition committee should have
sensitivity and compassion when they must refuse
a family's request for assistance.
are some of the comments I recently heard regarding the
tuition crisis many families are facing. When listening to
these comments I could feel pain and distress many parents
are subjected to when it comes to enrolling their children
in school. "They pulled my daughter out of class and
embarrassed her because I can't afford to pay tuition,"
"My son left Yeshiva because he can't bear to see me
struggling over the tuition," "I can't afford to
send my children to the Yeshiva that would suit them
most," "My daughter is not in school. No one will
take her because I can't pay," "My children's
school won't even take my applications because I don't have
the money for tuition," "My daughter is not sure
what seminary she wants to go to and they all ask for an
exorbitant non-refundable deposit. I hope the one school we
could afford apply to will accept her." We cannot
justify people suffering and being humiliated like this.
are not founded to turn a profit. The goal is to educate our
children. It is to be expected that many, if not the
majority of parents will need to ask for some kind of
scholarship based on their income. Communities should expect
to help fund the shortfall and demand of their yeshivas that
tuition be better subsidized so the burden on
families is more manageable.
feel it's imperative for each educational institution to put
together a think tank to see what ideas work for their
community. A base rule is that a think tank/tuition
committee needs to include educators and business people,
the rich and poor so that all points of view
are covered in discussion.
thing that is definite is that by recognizing that this is a
problem, both sides - school's administration and the
parents - can work towards a solution. Parents have to
understand that they can't expect to go on expensive yearly
vacations, drive the fanciest car and walk around in a
custom made suit and tell the Yeshiva they can't pay
tuition. On the other hand, administrators must understand
shouldn't be sent on a guilt trip when enrolling their
children. Parents don't have to hear every expense
associated with running a school. An equitable way of
determining how much each family can afford must be found.
this said, it is understood that even full tuition doesn't
cover all the expenses involved in educating a child and
running a school.
don't know when or why it became fashionable to put the
entire burden of Yeshiva costs on the parents. This trend
phenomenon worth thinking about is why people give Tzedakah/charity
to other places and not to the school that's teaching their
children. It was amazing how many people angrily told me
that it was because of the lack of compassion and feeling
that was felt from the administration when they sat down to
discuss tuition originally. Parents said, "When we
asked the Yeshiva to work with us because we just started
our business, instead of asking us to sign an IOU they bled
us by insisting on head checks." Now that these
parents feel more secure financially they don't want to give
money to the schools that showed them no mercy. Schools must
be aware, that a little kindness would go a long way in
future donations and cooperation.
the worst stories that were shared with me over this week
were those of students that were pushed out of the system
because they couldn't pay. In today's day and age we know
what it means when a kid is pushed out of the system and
spends time in the streets - definite failure, kids-at-risk,
etc. The responsibility of educating a child lies on the
community and the parents, and this is a partnership that
must be nurtured.
these partners must answer the question, "What
percentage of a family's income
should be spent on education
how should it be divided fairly between the schools?"
they must come up with ways to keep the
Yeshivas fiscally sound.
Ideas to Solve the Tuition Crisis
giving the matter a lot of thought and consulting many
parents and educators I have come up with some suggestions
on how to start grappling with this crisis. I have compiled
these ideas into a general list. Every idea may not work in
these will generate other ideas that will work in each
Government vouchers for school
Tax credit for tuition See
below for a phone call you can make to help
Educational subsidies/foundation for scholarships
within each community
Better fundraising /better financial management Schools
need to take on the obligation to raise more money.
They also should have some over site committee that
takes a look from time to time to make sure they are
getting the most for their dollar.
Better formula for how much to charge each family
Tzedakah and Maaser as tuition to our own institutions
If you give extra ask for a voucher give to someone
else If someone
does give Tzedakah to a school they should ask for a
receipt that could be used as a voucher towards
tuition for someone who has a child in that school.
Adopt a child Those
who can afford to should adopt the tuition of a needy
child who would otherwise lose out.
9) Home schooling This option works for some,
but would be a disaster for others.
Have parents buy school coupons to be used in
local stores so that local vendors gain and the school
makes a profit
Give daily Tzedakah in the school charity box
A bill for the future Some
schools send their non-paying families a bill each
year and tell them, "This is what you owe us.
When you will be in a position to give, please
Signed IOU Other
schools take this idea even further by making parents
sign an IOU to be paid if and when they "make
would be surprised to find out how much these efforts can
Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb
Chairman, OU Tuition Initiative
TUITION BREAK - PLEASE ACT NOW
June 08, 2007
One sixty second phone
call to this toll-free number could save our community
millions of dollars: (800) 319 - 3403.
With just two weeks left in the Legislative session in
Albany, now is the time to act to help families who are
struggling to pay yeshiva tuition. Assemblyman Vito Lopez
& Senator Marty Golden have introduced legislation that
would allow middle-class parents to deduct the cost of
private school tuition from their state taxes and poor
families would receive an actual tax credit. This could save
average families in our community thousands of dollars each
But we must ACT NOW. The legislative session in Albany ends
Please call Governor Spitzer's office today at (800) 319 -
If you speak with a live operator, please tell them:
I'm calling to ask the Governor to support the Lopez-Golden
Tuition Tax Deduction Bill.
If you reach a voice mailbox, DO NOT HANG UP. Each message
is logged and counts!
After the tone, leave the same message along with your zip
am calling to ask the Governor to support the Lopez-Golden
Tuition Tax Deduction Bill. My zip code is XXXXX."
Governor Spitzer has the ability to get this done. But he
must hear from you and everyone you know.
It's a simple call (800) 319- 3403.
Every single call made to the Governor is logged and will
make a difference!