Friday, March 19, 2010

Yeshiva Tuition Aid Applications -- Your Opinion Requested

I'm curious to know what my readership thinks. Perhaps I'm in the wrong on this matter.

I have a son enrolled in a yeshiva. Due to various misunderstandings and error on both my part and the yeshiva's part, we did not fill out the financial aid forms for this year. As a result, we're paying full tuition for one kid. Fine -- it's difficult, but we'll somehow get by. I'm not going to hold the school responsible because we didn't fill out the forms.

However, there was one particular part of the application that really bugged me and I was hoping for my readership's feedback.

One of the things that the school requested was copies of all our bank statement/credit card statements/etc. for the previous two or three months. This is something that no other school (in my experience) has asked for when evaluating financial need.

  • Other schools have asked for some or all of the following:
  • Tax return
  • Balances in various accounts [checking/savings/IRA/401(k)/credit card/mortgage, etc.]
  • Rough breakdown of expenses
  • Info on property/cars owned
  • Questions about camps/summer expenses

No school, except this one, has asked for actual statements from accounts. Truth to tell, I find this highly invasive. I don't think it's their business which grocery store I shop at, which doctors I see, and, for the little discretionary spending that I do, where I do it. I feel violated even at the thought of them going through my statements and saying "Hmmm... he spent $10 at Barnes & Noble," or "He didn't *really* need to buy that $15 bouquet at the florist," or "Hey, what's this $10 charge at Hallmark?"

I have no problem providing them with totals and aggregates of our spending (including the amount of discretionary spending) by category, but I just can't help but feel that requesting the details of our individual transactions is both intrusive and invasive -- especially since no other school has ever asked this of us.

What do you think? Am I being bent out of shape over this? Is their request reasonable and I'm just being defensive? Or is it truly over the line and overly invasive?

The Wolf

76 comments:

zach said...

Dan l'kav zchus, maybe they just want to see what kind of balances you keep for the debt side of the equation. I wouldn't provide any additional details; it's none of their business. Of course, withholding this info may have negative repercussions in the future when you do need to fill out the form, but it may also be an indication of the kind of school that you don't want your son to attend.

BrooklynWolf said...

Well, I don't have a problem telling them the balances. I'll even give them the top of the statement so they can see that.

The Wolf

tesyaa said...

We b"h pay full tuition for our kids, and we're strapped, and honestly, every time I go to a store, I think about whether I need that $10 book at Barnes & Noble. (The library has become one of my favorite destinations). Mostly I put it back. If I were on scholarship, I would think even longer and harder and put more things back. I think if you are receiving financial assistance, you should be cautious almost to the point of paranoia about discretionary spending. Of course, you need some minor diversions in order to keep your sanity. But you should realize that charity is helping pay your bills and live as frugally as possible. If it were self-policing, the schools wouldn't have to request statements. But if there has been scholarship abuse, the school might feel like it has no choice.

BrooklynWolf said...

Tesyaa,

I hear your point and, for the most part, agree with you. But even as you acknowledge, everyone needs *some* discretionary spending, even if it's a very small amount.

The Wolf

efrex said...

I fully agree that it's highly invasive. It's appropriate for you to volunteer information about expenses outside of the norm, but I see no reason why a school should conduct a full line-item audit of your spending habits.

B"H, we currently pay full tuition for our children, and I hope that we will be able to continue to do so. If, however, we apply for financial assistance from a school, I would be very miffed about such a request.

ksil lo yavin said...

Its the price you pay, if you want a free ride.

does not strike me as overly intrusive at all....

embarassing perhaps

TR said...

I won't comment on if the practice is right or wrong, but I do know why they do it: mass fraud. The frum community (at least the ones that I know personally) is rife with tax fraud, which then extends to school tuition. I've had people tell me with pride about how much they cheated to get their tuition bill down.

Look at it this way: why do you think they instituted the policy? Because they care about your choice of computer vendor? No, of course not. Going through the bills is just more work for them. But it's worth it because it makes fraud--which is rampant--harder.

Yes, tax fraud is rife and tuition cheating is rampant. I dare anyone to honestly say it's not true. The existence of this policy is prima facie proof of the latter, but anyone not trying to cover it up know even without that that both are true. Oy meh haya lanu.

Anonymous said...

Why should you get to spend $10 at Barnes and Noble, or get to buy your cousin a wedding gift, or buy a $15 bouquet of flowers -- so I can pay full tuition for "my kid" which is really for my kid plus part of your kid? I paid full tuition for my kids (which mean my kids plus part of other kids, as you surely know) and I did that by NEVER buying a book (except ones I picked up for .25 at the library book sale) and making it clear to my husband that I NEVER expected to get flowers (never, not for birthdays, anniversaries, nothing. He did buy a few dollars' worth of seeds and planted flowers in our yard, which he then cut and presented to me as bouquets). And what to do about people who spend way more than an occasional $10 or $15 on things they could do without, while asking the "school" which really means your own neighbors, to fork over the money? Until we re-do this crazy system, we have to realize that under our current system, there is no way to make things come out fair...I see why the school is asking...

SuperRaizy said...

Whoa! I really think that everyone needs to stop beating up on Wolf. Most people who receive tuition assistance (like I do) are hard working and live very modestly. We are NOT looking for a "free ride". We are simply looking for a way to keep our kids in yeshiva and still put food on the table at the same time.

ksil lo yavin said...

raizy, no one is yelling at him (or you) just offering an opinion of how much the shcool should ask a parent asking for a break....he did ask for it! (see title of post)

BrooklynWolf said...

Yes, I did ask for an opinion, but I think the conversation is going a bit off topic here.

I wasn't asking whether I have the right to spend a little bit of discretionary spending, even while asking for tuition. We all need the ability to spend at least a little bit on ourselves.

Anon -- let me ask you -- I appreciate what you're saying, but then where do you draw the line? True, I may not need to buy a book, or a card for my wife for her birthday or even a soda from the soda machine during a break in class -- but by the same token, I don't "need" to buy more than bread, water and the occasional fruit to ward off scurvy either for my family either. We don't buy fancy foods, but we don't live on bread and water either. Do we have the right to that either?

But truth to tell, I wasn't asking if I have the right to spend a bit. What I was asking is whether the yeshiva is correct in asking for those details. One area that does concern me is medical info -- I don't need them knowing what doctors we go to and what illnesses we may or may not have. That, IMHO, is not their business, regardless of how much tuition assistence they give us.

I don't mind telling them we spend $X on medical expenses, $X on grocery, etc. But it's the *details* that I mind revealing. It just seems to be an excessive invasion of privacy -- especially since no other school has ever asked us for that level of detail before.

The Wolf

tesyaa said...

If you don't like revealing the credit card spending details, why not pay cash?

Anonymous in Teaneck said...

My children attend an independent school which uses the financial aid service provided by the National Association of Independent Schools. You can see what information is required here:

https://www8.student-1.com/SSS/resources/info-required.asp

The first time I filled out the forms was a bit overwhelming, considering how much information is required. But the attitude of the Director of Financial Aid at the school reassured me; she told me that they trusted the parents to tell the truth. I am also more comfortable because I know that, other than the financial aid director and the principal, no one who works at my kids' school knows that we receive financial aid - no teachers, no college guidance counselors, no one.

One year, I looked into putting my children back into a day school - and found that the financial aid form was so intrusive, much like what you're describing. I decided not to, for other reasons, but was really turned off by the questions about how much money I spent on dry-cleaning, etc.

Asking for the balances in checking/savings account is standard for financial aid forms - for independent schools and colleges. Asking you to provide copies of your bank and credit card statements is intrusive.

Orthonomics said...

FYI, I linked and added some comments.

I can completely understand why schools are asking, but I'd draw the line there. Perhaps I'm just super crazy about internal controls.

Pesky Settler said...

I'm going to agree with those who have said that there seems to be a good reason for why they're asking... they've been burned too many times.

Is it their business whether you spend a few hundred dollars on groceries for Pesach or a few thousand to go to a hotel? If you're asking for financial aide, then IMO, yes.

BrooklynWolf said...

Pesky,

I had no dispute with their wanting to know about major expenditures (hotels for Pesach, vacations, summer camps, other tuitions, etc.). It's the details of the minor purchases and potentially compromising medical information (knowing which doctors I go to, for example, may tell them something they have no business knowing). Likewise, I'm not sure what business it is of theirs to know where we go food shopping, or clothing shopping, etc. The amount we spend? Yes. Where? No.

As I said, I don't mind giving them breakdowns on what we spend. But the details, IMHO, aren't their business.

The Wolf

Anonymous said...

Are you hiding some sort of illness from the school? If so, then they have a right to know. If you're going to drop dead of some disease and then be unable to pay the tuition then they need to know that

Shalom, Cherry Hill said...

It seems to me that you are justified in being uncomfortable with being asked to provide such details, but the school is justified in having to try harder to weed out the unscrupulous liars deliberately gaming the system.

Perhaps they would be satisfied if you made a photocopy with the name of the merchant crossed out, so that one could see the type of merchant it is, without the detail of what kind of doctor, or if it was 'k-mart', 'wal-mart' or 'kosher-mart'?

I could be sarcastic and suggest that you simply give the school a very strong character reference who would vouch for your financial situation, but the Spinka rebbe and Rabbi Balkany are unavailable at this moment.

Honestly, I sympathize with your situation, but it is one in a very long line of incidents that ratifies my decision to send my kids to public school.

ProfK said...

Wolf,

I can guess why they are asking based on some instances I'm personally aware of. People who are in cash businesses may give in their tax returns but those returns fail to tell the real story. Yet those same people, if their credit card statements were looked at, are spending more than they are showing as income on tax statements, and they aren't in debt when they do so. I suppose it's a way for the schools to verify that income and outflow are not greatly different. However, if that is their reason for asking for the records, then the top of the statement, as you mention, with the card issuer name (not actual ID number) and the balance should be sufficient.

"Are you hiding some sort of illness from the school? If so, then they have a right to know. If you're going to drop dead of some disease and then be unable to pay the tuition then they need to know that"

Schools have no "right" to medical information that parents do not voluntarily give them without coercion. Privacy is provided under HIPAA and such info can only be released when you sign that someone can see that info. It is not recommended that anyone outside of the actual medical info loop have this info--why the HIPAA was established to begin with. Employers may not get this info so why should schools?

Wolfcatcher said...

So, klutz, you missed filling out the forms like the irresponsible kid you are at heart and now you're upset that you need to prove that you deserve the aid.

Get a better job, find another school, or put up and shut up.

Dave said...

One alternative is to determine the amount you think you can afford to pay, and make the school an offer.

If they say yes, fine.

If they say no, then you need to decide whether or not it is worth it to given them all these records and hope they'll change their minds.

BrooklynWolf said...

So, klutz, you missed filling out the forms like the irresponsible kid you are at heart and now you're upset that you need to prove that you deserve the aid.

Dear Wolfcatcher,

Perhaps you missed the part where I didn't have a problem with the fact that we missed the deadline for this past year. Or is it your contention that because we missed a deadline one year that we're ineligible for aid every year?

And I'll take the high road and not get into name-calling with you.

The Wolf

Anonymous said...

Hey Wolf,

Let me ask you this. You're applying for aid from the school. But are you doing everything you can to pay your bill? You seem to have a fancy camera and you seem to spend a lot of time using it taking stupid pictures of flowers, animals and buildings. Why not sell the camera and give the money to the school. Then take the time you devote to your hobby and go out and get a real job or a second job so that you can pay the schools what they are owed?

Anonymous said...

There is no need to get nasty!

The fact is that scholarship funds are scarce, and getting scarcer, so the schools have to be very careful where they spend those precious few scholarship dollars. And it's probably only going to get worse.

Mark

Orthonomics said...

The ill feelings towards select people on any type of reduction is exactly why this entire system is basically broken. This assine pricing structure is cultivating a terrible middah.

Orthonomics said...

Anonymous-Perhaps the photography is an entrance point into a money making field. I also spend on a hobby and have made it all back and some more.

tesyaa said...

This thread might have been more pleasant for everyone if the Wolf had posted it as a hypothetical situation or an anonymous case. It's a legitimate point of discussion, but the less personal information, the better on a blog post like this one.

Menachem Lipkin said...

Funny,personally I find the tax return to be more "invasive". I really don't care if someone sees my day to day expenses, but my income is much more personal.

That said, I wonder if part of your discomfort is the concern of who's looking at the info. After all, mortgage applications, for example, often require the same information, including bank statements. But with those, it's some anonymous underwriter looking an your stuff, you don't have the feeling that the guy you sit next to in shul is going to know where you shop.

Just a thought.

Mike S. said...

I am of two minds as a parent, now in his 50th kid-year of paying full tuition. Plus (12 kid years of post high school education) I am grateful that I have been in a position to do so, although there have been many times when it was quite tight.

On the one hand, I am happy that a family on scholarship is able to spend a little on small luxuries, and people should be entitled to a little privacy.

However, I do resent it when the kid whose family car, vacation or bar mitzvah party is the one my kids are envious of comes from a family where the parents are happy to tell me about the big tuition reduction they are getting. And I need to tell my kids we can't afford it because we are spending so much on tuition. Yes, it's a good life lesson for the kids, but it isn't fun for them or me.

Unfortunately, there are some people who are willing to sacrifice to give their kids a Jewish education, some who are less willing, and some who think cheating on taxes and scholarship applications are just part of "the game." I wish the schools didn't have to try to catch the last group, but they do. I don't know what the schools should do about the middle group (the ones whose parents are driven to the school in a limo, but threaten to send the kids to public school if charged full freight.) I know a day school hates to have kids lose out on a Jewish education because the parents are jerks, and I share the feeling, but it makes the school and everyone else into suckers.

This is not a new phenomenon. My uncle was telling me the when my cousins were little (must be over 40 years ago) an indiscreet member of a scholarship committee told him that a third fellow in shul was getting a scholarship because he only makes $X, a figure significantly higher than my uncle, who was paying full tuition, was making.

It should go without saying that people should squeeze their budgets to pay tuition, and that committee members should keep their mouths shut. Unfortunately, there are too many people who game the system, and too many people reviewing applications who lack the required discretion. Which makes things very uncomfortable both for the committees, who have to try to catch the former, and the applicants, who have to fear exposing private information. Unfortunately, other than praying that people involved in Jewish school, on both sides of the table, follow the Torah's way well enough so that this situation becomes unnecessary, I haven't a solution to offer. Except perhaps that schools in different communities exchange scholarship committees some how.

TR said...

While Anonymous 6:57PM's "stupid pictures" comment was rudely formed, he does had a point worth addressing. How do you, Wolf, justify asking that other people pay for your kids' schooling (which is what "financial aid" is) when you have luxuries?

While putting a name to the question makes it uncomfortably personal (even though you're a pseudonym), it requires an answer. This is especially true since the very post was about a school's need to dig deep into your private life to determine eligibility.

Anonymous said...

Luxuries? Im willing to bet it goes beyond that.

Let's see -- we know he has an expensive camera. We also know he has a hand-written megillah (from the picture he put up last week) and the means to either buy or make a platter full of hamantaschen.

I remember him saying in the coffeeroom that he is currently going to school -- that must cost money. He probably has a car, a fast internet connection, probably eats meat more than just on shabbas or yom tov, probably has fancy clothing. We know that you buy books, flowers and cards from hallmark stores. You probably spend money on school supplies for yourself. If you have a bike, are you biking to work in the spring/summer instead of spending money on public transportation? If not -- then you can buy a bike, the amount you save will be made up in a month or two.

Someone already mentioned that you could be working at another job during the time you spend taking pictures. You could also be working another job instead of going to school. And how much time do you waste on this blog? Im sure you could be earning more money instead of doing all this nonsense writing.

To sum up youre asking people to pay to educate your kids while you waste time where you could be earning extra money while you have posessions that could be sold for extra money and while you waste money needlessly on unnecesary expenses.

In the words of a famous congressman: Have you no shame sir?

Anonymous said...

You say this is not about the fact that you feel you have anything to hide, just a privacy issue. BUT it is about spending other people's money. Why should a family getting a break get any money to spend on luxuries? Is it fair that I pay full yeshiva tuition by not taking my kids out for pizza - ever - while you get a break and enjoy this small luxery? How is that fair? If you ask me, any family getting a break needs to follow the following rules:
1. No eating out - even pizza - except in extraordinary circumstances (mom had a baby, ill parent). Otherwise, let them eat cream cheese sandwiches for supper. My parents got a break when I was a kid, and we got to eat pizza the night before erev Pesach. Once a year. Yes, we felt bad about it. So when I got to be an eighth grader, I babysat and bought myself pizza with the earnings.
2. No extra-curricular (unless the child is special-needs). No music lessons, no art class, nothing.
3. No buying what is on the list of luxury items, ever, as defined by the school's committee. This inlcudes things like flowers, jewelry, etc. Parents should use discretion when buying things like books or games, and even clothes and groceries.
4. No gardener or gardening service. Buy a lawn mower, lose the flowers if you can't maintain them yourself.
5. No cable service. Cable TV is not needed in this world.
6. No giving charity to any other schools/yeshivas, even if your dad is honored by them, even if you went there.
7. No giving gifts beyond a modest amount (committee to decide dollar amounts for bar mitzva, wedding, etc.)

The reason Wolf and others feel okay about buying a book in Barnes and Noble or flowers while asking for a break is because they know "everyone" is doing it too - asking for breaks and then using the savings to buy tons of things they can do with out - and yes, those pizzas add up!
We need to re-do this system and end the cycle - if fewer people wasted money, they'd ask for smaller breaks, so tuition could come down...

Anonymous said...

8. No frivoulous hobbies. Spend the time on a second job instead. Why should Wolf have leisure time to follow his hobbies while I work a second job to pay full tuition.
9. No spending money on transportation when you could go by bike/walk when the weather is nice. Why should Wolf ride the train to work when I walk?
10. I'm willing to bet that Wolf probably has a computer at work and at home. I have to use the computer at the library becuase I can't afford one. Why should he have two and I can't even get one?
11. No luxury food items -- plates of hamantaschen are NOT necessities. Cakes, cookies, candy and even meat (shabbas/yomtov excluded) are not necessary. The same could be said for soda, juices (theyre mostly unhealty sugar drinks anyway) and the like. No family truly needs more than water and milk.
12. No fancy items. I don't know how Wolf justified buying a megillah when he's asking for other people to pay for it. Same thing with his camera and the like.
13. No car if you like in a place with decent public transportation. No one needs a car in Brooklyn.
14. No new clothing unless absolutely needed. Literally, I mean unless the clothes are falling apart or bursting at the seams.
15. No insurance. I know that some people will disagree with this and say that its necessary, but its really not. At a young age, most people make it through with no problems. Why should Wolf's family have security and peace of mind while I can't afford insurance because I pay full freight.
16. Obviously no camps, vacations, etc.

Anon1 said...

Anonymous has hit on an essential point: no one receiving financial assistance should feel like a Jew among Jews. It is essential to make that person and his family feel as much like a communal shmata as possible, for the sin of having much less income than the next guy. Not.

Anonymous said...

Anon1

Not for the sin of having less. For the sin of spending beyond his means and keeping luxuries like cameras and megillahs and college educations and computers and summer camp vacations while others who are paying their fair share are doing without.

Anon1 said...

Anonymous, you are drawing the line unfairly. For example, does the idea of getting an education oe computer so as to become an earner not appeal to you?

Anonymous said...

No Anon1 I dont think its unfair.

Why should Wolf have the ability to better himself while I have to remain stuck at my dead-end job because Im paying full tuition?

Anonymous said...

The day school system is collapsing. It is the cold hard reality.

A new model is needed.

Anon 1 said...

I can't help but feel that Anonymous (of March 22, 2010 11:24 AM and earlier comments) wants to rub the less affluent people's noses in it. To suggest that they should go around wearing beat up clothes is indecent.

Maybe there is a sefer somewhere that says to give to tzedekah with the greatest possible contempt for the recipient, guaranteed to make him cringe, but I do not know of it.

TR said...

I'll say it again: Anonymous may be politeness-impaired, but how is he wrong? Sarcasm to hide a weak reply doesn't cut it.

Tired of the entitlement said...

"To suggest that they should go around wearing beat up clothes is indecent."

NO IT ISN'T. To take tzedakah (other people's money), to have your food, hobbies, expenses paid for by other people while you live like a Proper Materialistic American is indecent. Tzedakah is for poor people, not people with fancy cameras and meat on the table. anyone who thinks otherwise has had their sensibilities corrupted by the decades of American affluence in which the frum world has been ensconced.

I will not pay to raise your kids while you take vacations, go to camp, buy gadgets, etc. I refuse, and I don't give a damn if that means you'll send your kids to public school.

Sick Of People Like Wolf said...

To me no parent should be asking for a break unless they meet the following qualifications:

They are earning as much as they can. That means working two (and maybe three, if there is enough time in the day) jobs. It means that your kids are pitching in with help with after school jobs (if they are old enough obviously. No one expects a five year old to work). But it also means no wasting time on hobbies or school. If you have an hour to spend taking pictures, then you can take that hour and go earn a few bucks with it. If you can take an hour to gripe about this, that or the other thing on this blog, take the time instead and go earn a few bucks with it. Your not entitled to leisure time while others work fifteen hour days to make ends meet.

They are not spending money unnecessarily. That means simple groceries (no nosh, candies, pastries, etc.), no vacations, no gagets, no megillahs, no bus/train rides when other means are available, etc. If other people can walk/bike to work, so can you. (Obviously, if you have a physical illness, exceptions can be made).

Living modestly. I don't know where Wolf lives, but Im willing to bet he has a more than ample house and is paying more in mortgage or rent than he has to. How about finding a simple one or two bedroom apartment and use the savings to pay for your kids education. There is no reason for you to have four or five or however many bedrooms you have when your asking for others to pay your way.

anon1 said...

There is a prevailing assumption here that families with reduced tuition are typically and habitually gaming the system. In my maybe-sheltered out-of-town environment I have not seen this. Are we dealing here with a big city phenomenon that would horrify others elsewhere?

Lack Of Self Control Is The Reason said...

I think theres a more systemic problem here. If you have a case where two able-bodied parents need to take charity then its obvious that they dont know how to handle finances.

Theres a simple way to make sure that people dont take charity unless its truly needed. Simply give it on condition that the organization giving charity controls your finances. If you say that youre too poor to afford tuition, then fine, let the school handle your finances. I'm sure that they will find places where you could be saving money. Simply turn over your paycheck to them. From it they'll pay your bills, give you an allowence for grocery shopping (based on the number of people in your household) and clothing (likewise). The rest they'll take care of (utility bills, ect). This will give the person an incentive to get off of charity.

Anonymous said...

Anon1

I would say that just about everyone is gaming the system. Just about everyone who is receiving tuition help can cut down on unnecessary expenses. Just about everyone can get another job to suppliment their income. Just about everyone who is receiving tuition assistence can buy simpler groceries, not buy luxuries, or sell items that they have in the house. Just about everyone with kids over nine or ten who is receiving tuition assistence can have their kids help out with exepnses with part time jobs after school. And just about everyone who is taking tuition assistence and going to school on their own can quit school until their own kids graduate.

Yes, there are cases of disabled parents or parents with longterm illness where some of these suggestions might not be possible and who truly need help. But those cases are very few and far between. Unless Im wrong, Wolf is not ill or disabled. He has the time to go to school and take pictures, so he certainly has the time to get another job.

Simple Question said...

Wolf,

Just out of curiosity, how can you justify asking for a break when you said in an earlier post that you go away for pesach to a hotel?

Anonymous said...

Reading these comments left me feeling very sad. I am sad that so many people are so squeezed by tuition that they lose sight of the bigger picture. You are trying to make people into cookie cutter images. (Everyone getting a tuition break has to follow all of the following rules...) But people are not cookies. They are all different. The tuition committees understand that. They give people a certain amount of leeway. Part of that is because they understand that human nature is such that living without anything extra for long periods of time is psychologically damaging to people. So they determine how much they think they can get you to pay without making you crazy. Past that they allow you to determine what to spend money on. And if you can give more to the schools, kol hakavod.

Some people can work 3 jobs. Some people just cannot do it. It would make them so miserable that it wouldn't be worth it. Is it worth it to make someone work 3 jobs if it makes him depressed? Nope. It will affect him and his family too much. We will end up spending more money trying to piece his wife and kids back together than if you let him relax or learn for a little at night. If someone can work the extra job, kol hakavod. But to require it from everyone isn't a good idea.

It is frustrating to see someone afford something that you cannot when you know that you work harder than they do. I know, I see it all the time. Try not to see it. Try to be happy with what you have. Life is full of injustices. Teach your children not to use other people as a measuring stick for your own happiness or success. Be happy with what you have.

And remember to think kindly about others. Maybe Wolf doesn't live rich. Maybe he got the camera and the megilla as gifts. He probably did. And maybe, just maybe, he has feelings.

Anonymous said...

He said he DOESN'T go away for Pesach.

tesyaa said...

Anon 1:30, interesting comments and I agree with your basic conclusions, but:

1) I don't think tuition committees are made up of a bunch of psychologists. You really think that the committee can tell from a bunch of financial data who will crack under the strain and who will not?

2) If the Wolf wanted to spare his own feelings, he wouldn't have put this post up. There is no law that you have to have a Blog and put your Thoughts out there for the world to see. If he really ONLY wanted opinions of whether the new rule was too invasive, a public blog was not the way to go.

Tired of the entitlement said...

"Some people just cannot do it. It would make them so miserable that it wouldn't be worth it. Is it worth it to make someone work 3 jobs if it makes him depressed?"

Tough s***. That just means you can't afford private school. It does not entitle you to have someone else pay for it.

How do you know making some other parents in the school pay for that tuition (the money comes from them in the end, not magic) isn't making them sick??

Anonymous said...

Tired of the entitlement, everyone needs to assess for themselves what they can or cannot do. And you're right - they cannot afford private school, that is why they applied for the tuition break in the first place.

Tessya, the tuition committee folks are not psychologists. That's why they set it up this way for everyone. If you need a further reduction, they will look at all of your information very carefully before they grant you a further reduction.

You are right - Wolf put up the post. But I still think that people should think about another person's feelings. I would hate for my kids to see the way the adults here are attacking those who get breaks!

Anonymous said...

That just means you can't afford private school. It does not entitle you to have someone else pay for it.

I don't have a problem with people who truly cannot afford it. Consider the fact that we make it practically required to send your kids to yeshiva, if a parent puts in everything they can and still can't make it, we should try to make some allowances for them to afford yeshiva.

However, that's not Wolf's case. He clearly can afford it based on the luxuries he has. He can do more by dropping school and hobbies and getting a second job. He can do more by having his teenage kids get after school jobs to help around the house. He should sell his luxuries, go to the basic minimums and possibly even move to a cheaper apartment (some of us make do with one or two bedroom apartments).

Once all that is done, if they still can't make it, then they deserve a break but not a moment before.

Anonymous said...

So if I am making $30,000 per year and I can be reasonably sure that if I go back to school for a year I can increase my income substantially, I shouldn't do it? I am willing to work really hard to be able to get a higher paying job and pay more tuition. Isn't that something we want to ENCOURAGE? Doesn't that make more sense than working as a cashier someplace for 2 hours in the evenings?

Suppose he got the camera and megilla as gifts. Is a person required to sell any gift he gets so he can pay more tuition? No one can give him anything to make his life a little nicer?

Why not just say that you cannot eat more than bread and water if you get a tuition break?

tesyaa said...

At a certain point, if you burden the full tuition payers too much, they will leave. They will form "full tuition only" schools. They will homeschool. They might even choose public schools and pay for private tutors. What is certain is that the current system of schools will collapse, and the result will not be the universal yeshiva education that is provided now.

David said...

It seems pretty simple to me ...

You are asking the school for a break. They are not required to give it to you. You are asking for a favor. I am sure your request is entirely justified, and dont' doubt the fact that your need is legitimate, but it is still you asking for a favor, a favor the school is under no obligation to commit to. As such, the school does indeed have the right to ask whatever they want. If they want financials, that is their prerogative. If they want DNA samples, a lien on your house, your airline miles, ... so long as they are not breaking any laws they are free to be as invasive as they want to be.

You, on the other hand, don't have to put up with it. If you do not like the school's demands, and I fully appreciate why you'd not, then you can exercise your choice to choose another school.

Bottom line, if enough parents refuse to comply with the school's demands, and enrollment drops as a result to the point that the school could not survive, then those rules will change. If others are going along with the rules, then the school will keep doing what it is doing, and is entitled to do so.

Mike S. said...

I am dismayed by some of these comments. The Torah tells us to respect the dignity even of those who are forced to accept charity; it is inherently degrading without someone arguing about whether you really needed to buy pears when apples were on sale for $.05 a pound less. People get money and food from food banks without that kind of scrutiny. And what about making assumptions about other people's lives; for instance, who said Wolf even owns the megillah he photographed? I once took a picture of Buckingham Palace, but I don't own it.

As a parent who pays full tuition, I don't want to be played for a sucker. But I also don't want to be turned into an ogre by a tuition committee that feels it needs to squeeze every last penny out of every family on aid, even to the point of not letting them take the bus to work or arguing about how big the holes the in kids' socks should be before they can be replaced.

Simple Question said...

Your right. He did say that. I misunderstood what he said.

Best comment here said...

tesyaa said...

At a certain point, if you burden the full tuition payers too much, they will leave. They will form "full tuition only" schools. They will homeschool. They might even choose public schools and pay for private tutors. What is certain is that the current system of schools will collapse, and the result will not be the universal yeshiva education that is provided now.


THIS

Orthonomics said...

Some of the comments are, quite frankly, nauseating.

But they are convincing me of one thing: both the fundraising and granting of scholarships should be dealt with by a separate organization. That way donors can donate out of their own free will, and schools can concentrate on educating without building up bloated administrations to deal with fundraising and development. Additionally, hopefully more people will start associating reductions/scholarships with charity, which is difficult to do when "everyone" is on reduction anyways creating more tuition payers, parents who are paying full tuition (hello!) won't associate every rise in tuition with those who don't pay, and we will create some needed economies of scale.

The comments here are exactly why our plan is to LEAVE the day school/yeshiva system when we just can't do it anymore (without our comfort zone).

Orthonomics said...

tesyaa, thank you for being the economist in your previous comment. Yes, people will leave. And that might even include people on small reductions who receive terrible treatment (and there are many of them too).

Ahavah Gayle said...

I would copy the payment slips, which have the balance and the payments due, and nothing else for the credit cards. The rest is not their business. If they find that inadequate, then find another school.

Tesyaa is right said...

The yeshiva day school system is coming to an end. This post and its comments are telling, but it's just as bad from another angle: that of the rabbeim. I recently got a tzedakah request from an organization that delivers food to rabbeim for Pesach. Read that again. Rabbeim are charity cases now. HUNDREDS of rabbeim. So many that they do it a school at a time to save management overhead. Rabbeim can't afford the basic staples of life, and need to receive food packages like Tomchei Shabbos beneficiaries.

Tick tock, the end is near.

Anonymous said...

I think there is a happy medium between saying, "I am getting a tuition break the school agreed to so now I can spend my money on things I want, even if most of the full-paying tuition parents would not be happy with me buying my wife a gold bracelet and flowerrs every Friday," and someone saying, "I am getting a tuition break so it is bread and water for my family." The sad part is, some families ARE scamming others, and the ones paying full tuition who are NOT rich find it aggravating to think they they deny their kids pizza outings and don't buy their wife flowers while the guys getting the break are in the pizza store and flower shop. There is something morally wrong with that, for the people getting breaks not to have the sense that they are obligated to cut down wherever possible. As a full-paying tuition parent, I think it is fair to tell the parents who are getting a break - and we all know that my "full-tuition" equals my kids' share plus part of a non-paying or low-payer's share - what things I am doing without, and they should do without them too. This doesn't have to be a pear vs. apple thing, but it is FAIR to say flowers are out when we do without them. Jewelry is out, and several other things that nobody can argue will send these poor souls off the deep end emotionally. We live in a sick community, where people feel that they can make middle-class salaries and yet live the life of the rich, with private schools and vacations and silver candlesticks and and and - and that is the part that is wrong.

tesyaa said...

SL - I'm not sure why someone receiving just a tiny, small reduction would find it worthwhile to go through the process. For those people, the thing to do is tighten the budget, rather than gather together the paperwork and become a recipient of charity, just for a token $500 reduction. I think most people are receiving far, far more.

Orthonomics said...

Tick Tock is right.

Tesyaa-I see your point.

I do think it is important for people to realize that a family paying more than their marginal cost (hard to determine what that line is) is contributing to a school. I would fear a family on a $10K of $50-60K up and leaving, just the same as full tuition payers up and leaving.

What I think we will start to see in coming years is more high tuition and full tuition paying parents opting out (some may never opt in. . . . . ), leaving those who are left with an even larger burden. At that point, those who have been so harsh to families asking for a small break, will have to eat their shoes because they will realize that some money from the "middle class" is better than no money.

I say this as a person who has been promoting frugality in the Orthodox community since I started my blog. I say this as a person who also is very upset at the abuse of the scholarship system. I say this as a person who sometimes questions the lifestyles and spending habits of those on reduction/scholarship.

Mike S. said...

I am not sure the standards of the most frugal tuition payer necessarily are the right ones to enforce. And there really is a difference between what the recipient should do and feel and what a school should enforce. A family receiving aid should feel obliged to cut back as much as possible; that doesn't mean the school should raise tuition if the kid ever has a slice of pizza. For one thing, even recipients of charity are entitled to some privacy. Some things should be left to individual judgment.

Many families paying less than full tuition are at least paying the marginal cost of educating their kids, in which case I am not sure I'd look at it as taking charity. Me, I am glad I can afford to pay full tuition. I want the school to keep from getting scammed by people who say they can't; I have no desire to see how close to the bone the school can force people less fortunate than I to cut. Yes, I can see asking about cars vacations and other major items. And yes, I feel very differently about a huge bouquet of flowers from FTD (do they still have FTD?) every week than a few flowers from the supermarket once in a while.

Further, people ought to be careful judging others; if a pizza or take out lets the parents grab an extra couple hours of work or of overtime, it may well be a net gain.

It is not legal for 9-10 year olds to work in any state I know of unless it is on a family farm. Suggesting that they ought to be pitching in financially is off-base.

Outraged and disgusted said...

Frankly, I find the majority of these vindictive anonymous (and some "signed") comments apalling. Are you living in Wolf's household? Do you have any clue whatsoever where or when he received that megilla you lovely people have decided that he shelled out the "big bucks" for? Or how he managed to save up for that camera? Do you have any clue what he or his wife do in order to make ends meet every week? Are you watching his children, growing teens, as they struggle to not burden their parents with notes from school trips that they cannot afford, or the fact that they need new clothing (yeah, boys grow, but pants don't grow with them. Nor do shoes)? Has anyone here ever heard of a STUDENT LOAN???? Yeah, that's where the gov't takes your financial information and decides to loan you money in order to pay for that schooling that some of the nasty Anonymous commentators have decided he should do without. Are you even aware that, with a better degree, he is only enabling himself to better pay for these yeshivot that his children go to? Are you aware that he has a second and a third job that he does on a volunteer basis because the recipients of his kindness can't afford to pay him either. (No, he doesn't get paid for the laining he so dedicated to or for the bar mitzvah lessons he provides) Are you aware of anything of that nature, or does it simply not matter to you because you are too blind and/or jealous to see that a person may have been able to afford a luxury (i.e. camera) at one time in his life, but that things have gone a bit downhill with the current economy? And, incidentally, selling a camera second hand, even a good one, will not result in an amount that will cover more than just a drop in the bucket where yeshiva tuition is concerned. Have you asked his wife just how many bouquets of flowers have come home within the last year? Or, where they are from? What about medical expenses that have fallen by the wayside due to lack of funding? Have you asked about that? No. Not too many people dan l'kaff zchus here. Plenty of people, though, who are ready to join the lynching mob here.
(My apologies to those who were either dan l'kaff zchus or less than nasty. You know who you are.)

mosherose said...

The bottom line wolf is that youre asking for a tuition break and if you want to get it then you have to play by their rules.

Its not like their telling you that you have to wear a hat and jacket to davening (chas v'shalom) or believe in the chachamim (double chas v'shalom). They just want some basic financial info to make sure that you really need the help.

However, its clear from you that you dont really need the help. As others have pointed out, you go to school. Thats got to cost you a bundle. You also have some free time that can be better put towards earning some extra cash. In fact, if you quit school until your kids graduate youll have a lot more money for tuition.

I think "wolfcatcher" had you pegged right: "the irresponsible kid you are at heart."

Stop wasting time and money and get to work and pay your fair share. A RESPONSIBLE person makes sure that all his financial obligations are met BEFORE he goes off to play with his camera or goes to optional classes.

Enough with the name calling! said...

"However, its clear from you that you dont really need the help. As others have pointed out, you go to school. Thats got to cost you a bundle. You also have some free time that can be better put towards earning some extra cash."

Really? Clear to whom, MosheRose?

Maybe Wolf earned (EARNED) a scholarship? Did THAT ever occur to you?

And, it only takes a second or two, or perhaps a LUNCHBREAK, to snap a picture. I don't know ANYONE who would hire you in middle of your lunchbreak (I only get a half hour lunch, some don't even get that!)

Why do you assume that classes are optional? Salaries are increased for the higher educated individuals (when I last checked). Working in a pizza shop in addition to another full time job will never bring in enough money to pay a full-price tuition. However, getting a better degree might.
I think you should do some soul-searching before calling another person irresponsible.

mosherose said...

O&D,

Im guessing you know Wolf personally based on your statements. It may be as you say. But even so look at it this way.

Lets suppose he suddenly found $200 on the street. He could do one of two things with it. He could either use it to help his family which is the responsible thing to do or he could give it away to someone else who might need it which is nice and good but irresponsible. His familys needs have to come first if hes taking money from charity.

The same can be said for his time. Maybe its nice that he teaches for free. But is it right for him to do so when hes asking for charity and could better use the time to support his family?

mosherose said...

Fair enough. I dont think I'm wrong but since i'm obviously upsetting people I'll bow out of the conversation.

Shalom, Cherry Hill said...

To the various anonymous posters, who seem so angry and resentful:

If I was in your situation, I probably would feel the same way. The truth is, though, that while I make an above average income, with four children I would definitely have needed a significant discount to send my kids to day school. In any case, could it be that the stress and resentment that seems to exist due to these monetary issues be a toxin that might ruin whatever benefits that the day schools offer?

So many Jews (secular, MO & Chareidi) seem very materialistic, and seem to miss out on the 'ruchniyut'--davening but talking throughout, glatt kosher and pas yisroel but cheating on taxes and justifying all manner of terrible behavior. How about being dan lekaf zechut about others (like about Wolf's camera or megillah)?

I'm just saying....

Still Outraged and disgusted said...

"The same can be said for his time. Maybe its nice that he teaches for free. But is it right for him to do so when hes asking for charity and could better use the time to support his family?"

A person who helps out others in need should NOT be penalized for doing such.
Yeah, even if it means that they need to ask for help with their own tuition. Helping out another person in need does not make their monatary burden any less, but it is definitely NOT a waste of time.
Would you consider those brave VOLUNTEER Hatzola members as wasting their time? I know that giving free Bar Mitzvah lessons to those who cannot afford them or Leining (for free) for a shul on Shabbos on a weekly basis are just "mere" spirtitual societal contributions that don't measure up to the contributions that Hatzolah makes to society...but shouldn't they count as well?? How about leining on Purim for people who are homebound and would otherwise never get to hear Megillah? Yeah, I know, just another "spiritual" contribution, right?
Are you going to tell all those volunteers for Tomche Shabbos to go home and "get a real job?" I'm almost certain that some of them probably get some form of tuition assistance as well.
People are so quick to criticize and bring down other people. It really hurts the heart.

Orthonomics said...

The idea that a person who is receiving some help shouldn't also be a giver runs counter to everything the Torah teaches us about tzedakah and chessed.

Next year tuition is not going to be a cake walk for us, but after reading the comments here (and other places), I think I am going to try to give whatever "extra" tuition might be designated to help pay for others with an open hand and an open heart.

rejewvenator said...

Most of the angry comments here are misdirected at the relatively minor expenses that people on scholarship might incur. The biggest problem in gaming the system is the people who are house-rich but income-poor. The way things are set up, a school will never tell you to sell your house to pay tuition, even as they will insist you limit other expenses. Functionally, a house become a tuition-shelter. The more money you tie up in mortgage payments, the less you can be expected to pay in tuition.

BrooklynWolf said...

Comments closed for this post. I'll explain in my next post.

The Wolf