April 15, 2024
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Moriah Launches New Tuition Program for Next Year

Englewood— The Moriah School of Englewood has announced an initiative called the Tuition Affordability Program (TAP), to debut in the 2014­-2015 academic year. Its purpose is to provide sustainable, affordable tuition for all members of the Moriah community by offering a tuition scale that accounts for a family’s income level and number of children the family has enrolled. Moriah’s yearly tuition costs, not including fees, run between $14,000 and $15,450 for grades one to eight (and less expensive programs for early childhood).

It’s how the school has decided to face harsh economic realities: The cost of Jewish day school tuition has increased 100 percent in the past 12 years, while incomes have only gone up 38 percent. It is probably an understatement to say that the majority of local families have been significantly challenged when faced with their tuition bill.

“No challenge facing the Orthodox community today is greater than tuition affordability. Providing our children with the quality education they need is becoming difficult for a wide swath of our community,” said Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, mara d’asra of Englewood’s Congregation Ahavath Torah. “Creative solutions are thus necessary to ensure the availability of day school education to those already in the system, and to provide it for those who might wish to enroll but have hesitated due to cost,” he said.

“Our goal was to create a tuition program that’s affordable by the majority of the school,” said Evan Sohn, Moriah’s president.

“Hopefully, the TAP will enable more families to provide, with dignity and pride, the Jewish education that is so critical, not only to their children’s future, but to the future of our entire Jewish community,” said Goldin.

The Moriah community has a strong growing middle income class as defined by PEJE (Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education) to be $200,000 to $360,000 of gross income. The Moriah TAP addresses this segment by giving relief to those in middle income levels who are stretching to pay their tuition bills.

The school’s approximately 400 families, representing their 800 students, were involved with the development of this program. “By partnering with all the various stakeholders; the parent body, finance committee, the financial aid board, the faculty and community leaders—our tuition schedule is no longer one dimensional. It takes into account this precious middle income community,” Sohn said.

With a goal of achieving financial sustainability “for the next 50 years,” Sohn shared that Moriah’s winning of a BOLD (Blended and Online Learning in Day Schools) grant last year from Avi Chai, the Kohelet Fund and Affordable Jewish Education (AJE) has also helped the school bring technology into the classroom and maintain educational excellence while reducing inefficiency and some specific costs.

“The result is a new program that we are all very proud of and excited to roll out,” he said.

Sam Moed, President of Jewish Education for Generations (NNJKids) said, “Our day schools have worked collectively and individually over the past five years to reverse the upward spiral of tuition. Moriah is taking a bold, innovative step to push further in this direction and the community at large should similarly step up our financial support so all families have access to a high quality Jewish education for their children.”

According to the school’s information, at present 30 percent of its families are on financial aid. Additionally, there are approximately 20 to 30 percent of the families who stretch to meet their tuition requirements. Raising tuition has not been a productive exercise. “We have demonstrated that raising tuition by $100 adds an additional $100 to the financial aid requirements,” the school said in a release.

The Moriah financial aid committee does not plan requiring anyone participating in the TAP to apply for financial aid (Tzedekah); “We are instead charging them the tuition that is appropriate for their income levels,” the school said in a release.

Stated goals of the TAP is for the Moriah community to work toward fostering a greater appreciation for the diversity of its community, providing relief to those families that are going through economic issues in a dignified manner, demonstrating firsthand that Moriah is welcoming and appreciative of all of its constituents, and attracting, retaining and compensating faculty to the best of their ability.

“We believe that the Moriah Tuition Affordability Program will prove helpful to many of our current families, as well as new families looking at Moriah,” said Dr. Elliot Prager, Moriah’s principal.

While the Moriah TAP was not initially designed to increase the size of the student body, the school hopes that introducing a program that targets the middle income has marketing appeal. “Prospective families are continuously impressed with Moriah’s academics, and TAP will help make our education more accessible,” said Erik Kessler, Moriah’s director of admissions.

“Embedded in the program is also enhanced communal collaboration. We have been drawing attention from larger individual donors, major Jewish foundations and organizations,” said

Jay Goldberg, Moriah’s Board Chairman. “These external stakeholders recognize that the goal of sustainable excellence is best pursued with programming that lightens the load for the wider parent-body according to need. This objective serves to build good faith and motivation as it is progressive, highly inclusive and builds communal spirit.”

By Elizabeth Kratz

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