May 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Let’s Keep the Tuition Affordability Conversation Going

In reference to the November 3, 2016, article by Gershon Distenfeld (“Is There Still a Tuition Crisis?”) we wanted to express our appreciation to both The Jewish Link and to Gershon for continuing to keep tuition affordability at the forefront. We could not agree more with Gershon that our community is truly blessed to have so many wonderful day schools to choose from. While building a school like Yeshivat He’Atid from the ground up with affordability in mind has its own set of challenges, adding affordability to an existing school such as Moriah has an entirely different set.

Three years ago, Moriah embarked on a program to drive tuition affordability. While the Moriah educational program offers extensive support services, enrichment programs, commitment to cutting-edge technology, music and art programs and, most importantly, a 6:1 student-to-staff ratio, we recognized that a yeshiva day school education is in fact costly. That, coupled with our desire to ensure that our faculty are treated with the utmost respect and are provided compensation in line with their incredible talents, required us to seek a solution that balances both these objectives. Firstly, we eliminated all financial aid responsibility from the standard tuition through our synagogue partnerships and by increasing our annual campaign and thus, 100 percent of tuition goes to educating the child and 0 percent of tuition goes to financial aid.

To sustain this model and balance our objectives, Moriah introduced a Tuition Affordability Program (TAP), which was announced in The Jewish Link (April 10, 2014 “Moriah Launches New Tuition Program for Next Year”). This program, modeled after similar programs in Boston, was launched through visionary lead donors Daniel and Joyce Straus and The Kolatch Foundation. The fundamental principle of Moriah TAP is for the community school to provide a tuition that meets the needs of all its families. This is achieved through a sliding scale tuition schedule that adjusts to the varying socio-economic means of each family. Unlike traditional financial aid programs, TAP does not require formal interviews, excessive investigation or reporting. Simply submit (to a third party) one’s tax return and real estate tax statement. Using today’s TAP schedule, a family earning $200,000 with four children attending Moriah, would save as much as $210,000 over their elementary education (with tuition and fees not exceeding $13,000). A family earning $350,000 could save as much as $57,000 over the same period.

TAP even takes into account yeshiva high school-attending students as deductible dependants to be applied to the schedule.

Not only is TAP working, as we have seen many families in our community avail themselves of the program, but we have helped to migrate middle-income families away from traditional financial aid and over to TAP. This provides them a more affordable tuition while maintaining the dignity of not being forced to go through a formal financial aid process.

At our most recent open house attended by a record number of prospective families, around 10 percent of the families expressed interest in TAP. As a result of the success of the program we have been asked to share the specifics of our TAP initiative with schools in NYC and Long Island, and welcome all area schools to start a similar program.

In pursuing tuition affordability we have helped reduce some of the financial and emotional burden experienced by our parents while not impacting our children’s educational program nor our faculty’s compensation. Let’s keep the tuition affordability conversation going.

Evan Sohn, Former President

Jay Goldberg, Former Chairman of the Board

The Moriah School

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