Recently there has been even more talk about the tuition crisis, spurred by Rabbi Jeremy Wieder’s shiur on communal responsibility, Mark Trencher’s survey on finances in the frum community, and Rabbi David Bashevkin’s month of finance podcasts. There was a conversation on social media recently that referenced 200kChump, the infamous blog that chronicles the plight of “chumps” who make $200,000, the top 1% of earners in the country, but are unable to pay for yeshiva tuition. I decided to look back online to find the old blog, and I see it was shut down exactly a decade ago this month. While we could crunch the numbers to figure out the dollar amount to title a new blog, I’d instead like to look back and see what has changed in the last decade and what we can change in the future.
While Bergen County still has incredible day schools and high schools, not much has changed in attacking the tuition crisis, as costs and tuition have risen well in excess of inflation. Yeshivat He’atid has thrived, but for many reasons is not the solution. While government grants have helped with specific needs, it will never be the solution to our problem. And the rising costs of homes along with the pressure to purchase them will only hamper young parents’ abilities to pay tuition going forward.
What certainly hasn’t changed is that this is still on people’s minds, at Shabbat tables and in the pages of this fine periodical. We have heard from rebbeim, community advocates, scholarship families, and our annual Gershon Distenfeld life lesson … but no change. Like many issues in our community, it feels like all hat and no cattle.
COVID has changed every aspect of our lives—our schools, shuls, communities, jobs and health. The business world, as evidenced by the soaring stock market, has for the most part improved for a number of reasons. Most noticeable is the ability to get the job done with less/flexible/remote/cheaper staff, which it seems is the biggest issue at day schools. (More than 80% of expenses are for payroll.)
On this 10th anniversary of the closing of the blog, I’d be curious to hear how the business of yeshiva day schools has been changed by COVID and how schools are working to fix this seemingly endless problem. I don’t want to have to write another letter in 2032 as @400kChump!
(The writer isn’t the original @200kChump, nor does he know that blogger’s identity.)