May 30, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
May 30, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Tuition Assistance and Financial Planning

I am appreciative of all the thoughtful and proactive letters and articles in the Link last week on the topic of tuition and tuition assistance. I was energized to read Mr. Rader’s article, “A Fair Tuition Assistance Formula” (July 30, 2020), about Westchester Day School’s adjusted gross income model, and would strongly suggest that Bergen County yeshivot investigate the feasibility of incorporating this model. We should ask ourselves: How does this model work? What analysis did WDS and others do before deciding to apply this model? If we applied the AGI model to our existing current/historical families and their finances, how would this have affected the amount of tuition families in various income brackets would have paid? How would this model change our bottom line? (If you have a data analyst on the PTA to assist with this, then all the better!) Ultimately, K-8 schools and high schools should communicate their efforts with each other because, as Mr. Rader mentioned, both institutions will factor into a family’s budget.

What particularly appeals to me about this model is the transparency. As was pointed out last week in two complementary articles, tuition assistance is not tzedaka––both because Jewish education is a community value (we all benefit from a Jewishly literate and engaged community) and because we truly do not expect anywhere near everyone to pay full tuition. Moreover, when families know how much they are reasonably expected to pay, that allows them to plan their financial budgets in an informed way. I imagine part of the mortification of filling out the current tuition assistance form is that every financial decision for the last few or even several years is coming into question. What families could leave a detailed discussion of all their spending in the last five years with their heads held high? To that point, I was gratified to see Mr. Caplan write that he is planning on contributing a series of articles on the topic of financial planning for modern Orthodox families. I think we would all benefit from clear and concrete financial advice.

There are complex questions here to address––how can we effectively adjust our current tuition model to allow for more transparency? Will we need to further lower the cost of yeshivot, and if so, how? How can families financially plan in a way that does not severely limit their career options or the number of children they intend to have? I am enheartened to see the lively debate in this paper, and encourage us all to use this momentum and continue the conversation. We can do this together.

Rebecca Coulson
Fair Lawn
Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles