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Monday, August 25, 2008

Tuition Take II: The Sequel

Note: I will be presenting answers and ideas for the questions in the previous post tomorrow. Additionally I am working on a new set of questions for next week.

Now I present a letter my friend 'Charnie' send me which is about life after the Yeshiva tuition is paid. Read on:


My husband and I both are in civil service, which means that B"H, our jobs are fairly stable and we do have health insurance as well as other benefits. It also means that our incomes are pretty static as well, there are no bonus', merit increases, and other things that people in the private sector get. Perhaps every few years we'll see a 2-5% increase (which is nearly invisible after taxes), but although both of our unions are currently in contract negotiations, we're not anticipating much because of the downturn in the economy. In fact, it's more than likely that we'll have higher deductibles, increased HMO costs, fewer vacation days, longer hours, or something else. Working in civil service also works against us in other ways, especially in the tuition office of a college. We thought dealing with yeshivas was difficult, but at least they understand that we're paying tuition and that our incomes weren't going to change drastically (or as I once told an administrator, "we work for the government, so unfortunately, I can't come to you and say we had a good year in our business so here's an additional donation, it is what it is", and they have, to a degree, worked with us. They understood that many other parents are self-employed, and find ways not to report a lot of their income, so if they're asked to provide a W-2 or their tax return, it would appear that they make much less then they actually do. But if you work for the government, it's all there in black and white. And that means when you submit a FAFSA, it's also there in black and white.

Which is where we're at right now. One of our children is very artistically talented, and is heading to one of the top art colleges in the USA. A private college, with an enormous tuition. And when they reviewed our FAFSA, basically the response was "ha ha, you make too much. Yeshivas? That was your choice, we don't care. Your child wasn't at the top of the HS class, so you don't qualify for merit based aid either. Oh yes, and did we tell you that the government changed the amount a family can earn to qualify for work study?" Recently I spoke with a young lady who is an alumni of this school, and is B"H. doing very well in her career. When I asked one of her parents how they managed to pay, it occurred to me that the mother filed her FAFSA as a single parent since she is divorced from the daughter's father, and her second husband did not adopt her children. Which is to say that the government punishes me for being married in more ways then just alternative minimum income taxes.

So here we are, orientation is on August 25th and I still haven't a clue how we're going to pay the tuition without my child taking out loans they could never hope to see the end of, especially if they make aliyah (which is what they're hoping to do). Yeshivas can work out things however they feel like it, for better or for worse, they don't have regulations. But colleges are strictly bound by federal regulations. And according to those guidelines, we're rich, even though our combined income is under 200K.

Has anyone had experience in this realm? Yeshiva was always our first priority, and all our resources went towards that. College savings? How many yeshiva parents have that luxury? Yet, many kids do go to expensive colleges, such as all branches of YU, NYU, Brandeis, etc. How is someone whose kid was "average" academically and makes too much money in our notion, supposed to provide a higher education so that their children will have the ability to provide for themselves!

By the way, before everyone jumps on me about the private college issue, my Rav agrees that if a child has a specific gift, they should pursue it, as my child aspires to.

52 comments:

Child Ish Behavior said...

You make good points. The system as it punishes people who go to private school, are married, government workers. Life is like that with a lot of things. You sound like you've painted yourself into a corner.

All I have to say is that in Economics we talk about the concept of marginal utility. Which basically means that you spend your last dollar on the thing that will give you the most benefit out of that last dollar. In layman's terms you have the money that you have and YOU are the only one that chooses to spend it the way you do.

You made the choice to value the fancy private college education of your child even though you can not readily afford such an affluent purchase. If you value it that highly YOU should go into debt for your child. But only if you value your retirement less than your child's education.

Life is a series of choices. It is up to you what you spend you value enough to spend your money on. Don't let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Good luck in your choice.

Anonymous said...

One thing I can suggest, if your child is driven and hardworking. (And with what I'm doing it, smarts has less to do with it than sheer force of will...)

See if your some can graduate from college in 3 years. At my school, a tuition paying full time student can take up to 20 credits (normal load is 16) without paying extra. By taking 5 instead of 4 classes every semester, I was able to shave a semester off my college time to degree. By taking a handful of my gen ed requirements at a local community college at a very low cost, I was able to not only knock off another semester from my degree but also devote my time and energies during the semester to my academic interests.

Scraping together 3 years of tuition instead of 4 is marginally easier, and I'm saving myself a significant chunk of loans by avoiding my 4th year. Furthermore, I get out on the job market a year earlier.

This isn't a solution for everybody, but for me, it's been a lifesaver. Despite my parents' worries and fears, I've maintained excellent grades and my adviser believes that I will be just as competitive in graduate school admissions as a student who took 4 years to complete my degree.

Would I have loved a 4th year here? Yes, but, frankly, the degree isn't worth any more if I take longer to get it. And since I want to go to grad school, the loan savings will help me to pursue my own education further.

JS said...

I was basically in the same situation. My parents are both govt employees and we were classified as "rich" even though my parents borrowed heavily against the house to pay for our yeshiva tuition. They too had no money saved for us to go to college. FAFSA and college didn't give "credit" for my parents still paying yeshiva tution for my younger siblings. That was deemed a luxury and they wouldn't count it towards giving me more aid.

What did we do? I took out private loans. FAFSA is only a few thousand dollars. My parents paid what they could (about what they paid to the yeshivas) and the rest was made up in my taking out private loans.

I left college with nearly $100K in loans (private and FAFSA). I wouldn't recommend doing this unless you're pursuing a degree that will lead to enough income to pay this off and live comfortably. For example, taking out $100K in loans to earn $30K a year with little opportunity to make much more isn't very wise. In that case, I'd recommend state or city schools. Many offer a good education at a much lower price.

David said...

I have yet to see a difference in the quality of an undergraduate college education provided by an elite private school vs. a public school.

Perhaps going to a public school for a couple of years and then transferring might be an option?

mlevin said...

First let me state that this particular college regulation has nothing to do with Yeshiva tuition. People without Yeshiva tuition also have the same type of problem; they make too much according to FAFSA, but without loans they can’t afford college.

Second, merit scholarships are almost nonexistent these days. If you make over a certain amount you must pay full tuition even if your child was a straight A student with almost perfect SATs.

Third, majority of Americans are preparing for this type of a problem by getting their children into sports. With sports scholarship your child can have all or part of the tuition slashed. In your case, your child has an artistic talent. Try to pursue that avenue and see if there are any art scholarships available. You may be surprised.

Fourth, there are also many small scholarships available that your child may qualify for. I remember there existed a $500 Jewish scholarship a few years back. Since you are in civil service, there may be some scholarships available in that sector, ask your local representative. Yes, I know that these scholarships are small $500-$1000, but they do add up.

Another solution that many follow is summer and part time jobs. Yes, I know it may interfere with a social life of a student, but it will pay tuition.

ProfK said...

There are all kinds of non traditional scholarships out there,some smaller, some larger. Many books written with the particulars and information online as well. The government still has a program where students who will agree to teach for a few years after graduation will have their student loans forgiven.

There is this also. Once you are in college what you did in high school as far as an average goes doesn't count any more. If your daughter strives to do well in college she will become eligible for better aid her second year.

Ahavah Gayle said...

Don't read this if you are looking for sympathy - this post is the reality check.

I'm sorry, but unless your Rav is willing to cough up the dough for your child to attend this program, the reality is that you can't afford this college. You're either going to be up to your eyeballs in debt (or you're going to let your child be saddled with that debt - presuming they can even get a student loan right now, which is another issue) or you're going to have to find a less expensive school.

Normally I'd say life isn't fair, but in this case it actually is. WHY you didn't save any for college is, as they pointed out, frankly not relevant. You made your choices and now you have to deal with them. You put elementary years that most kids hardly remember ahead of college which will affect their livelihood for the rest of their lives. Own up to it, and move forward. This is what happens in the real world - we make choices and then we have to acknowledge them and deal with them.

There are good art programs out there that aren't private and don't cost so much. Do some research and find one. If your daughter is truly talented, she will be offered scholarships later for her final years of college. Not all scholarships and grants are for freshmen. If not, she can still earn a respectable degree and give an art career her best shot. It's no more than the rest of us, in any field, do every day. You work with what you have to work with. That's just the way it is.

Shalom.

Lawstudent said...

As someone nearing the end of her school career, I'd like to say I have little pity for this person. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have had to finance my entire education by myself. I went for two years to a small private school where I had a 100% scholarship. I then transferred to a public university where my tuition was paid 100% for the remaining time. At both schools, I felt that education was what you made of it. I could have taken certain classes and sailed by without learning much. However, I searched and chose classes that I knew would challenge me and help me sharpen my skills.
For law school, I applied to in-state schools and one out of state safety school. Although I was accepted at a school ranked a good deal higher, I chose to attend the public school from which I will soon graduate. Instead of $36,000/year, I am paying only $8,000/year.
I have always worked, either through work-study or the other jobs, and would take whatever would pay me, no matter how terrible the job was. I spent one summer looking sorting pieces of leaves from pine straw from tiny bugs in the Entomology's department.
When I graduate from law school, I will have accumulated about $50,000 in loans, which is a lot of money. However, considering that I will have a law degree and a useful undergraduate degree, I don't think $50,000 for 7 years of education is too bad.
Not taking out loans is a luxury, and it's sad that such is the case. However, student loans may be subsidized and are often at much lower rates than loans that parents may receive. If a person has a specific gift and if that gift will benefit from an investment, then cultivate it. However, be aware that Public Universities offer top-notch educations even if they do not have the name recognition and prestige. But, an excellent student will be excellent anywhere and a good school is one that gets you where you want to be.w

JS said...

ahavah gayle,

"You put elementary years that most kids hardly remember ahead of college which will affect their livelihood for the rest of their lives."

Curious if you meant she should have sent her children to public school instead of yeshiva.

Charnie said...

While everyone here has valid points, I must take issue with Ahavah Gayle's comments about our having priortized our children's yeshiva education over college tuition.

To each of us (my husband, my three children and myself), there was nothing more important then their Torah education, since that has provided them a firm foundation in who they are. In fact, I never would have considered sending my child into the rather, shall we say, avante garde environment of an art college without a strong Torah foundation.

When I said we didn't save specifically for college, I didn't mean we don't have 5 cents put aside. Unfortunately, because the grandparents are now all nifter, there was some money put aside.

Another fact is that we did our homework about colleges in this field. There is one that is a SUNY that didn't accept my child. There is another that is part of CUNY that has a universally poor rating, and a very weak student body. And fortunately, as one commentor suggested, we have completed most of the liberal arts requirements in a different (cheaper) college, so that will hopefully shave off a year from the degree.

SaraK said...

While I do feel for charnie, all I can say is that I fully financed my college education. My single Mom did the best she could with our yeshiva tuitions, but when we hit 18 we were on our own. I got some need-based scholarships (but not that much) and worked part-time during school semesters and full time during breaks and took out loans for the balance. I went to a local in state school and lived at home. I also took core classes at a cheaper community college and basically just took the classes for my major at my university. My degree is not worth any less than a degree for a more expensive school, although I'm in a field where experience is valued more than the degree. I don't know what the art field is like. But I had no concept of parents paying for children to party through college. I worked my tail off to graduate. I never went on trips during spring break, etc.

Lion of Zion said...

Charnie:

"They understood that many other parents are self-employed, and find ways not to report a lot of their income"

i'm glad your yeshiva realizes this. not all do.

what type of job prospects will your daughter have with this high-priced education? i went back to school and have huge student loans that i will start repaying soon, but i saw it as an investment.

i understand your daughter loves what she does and has special talents, and i know this sounds cruel (and yes, i am far away from having to deal with college tuition), but not everyone gets to do what they love.

Dave said...

I don't see how you are taking issue.

You did prioritize Yeshiva over College. And now you are dealing the repercussions of that decision.

The fact that you think it was the right decision doesn't change the fact that the ramifications of that decision are precisely the problem that is upsetting you.

anonymous mom said...

Ahavah G,
"You put elementary years that most kids hardly remember ahead of college"

Elementary School is referred to as Beit Sefer Yesodi. It is the very foundation upon which all else is built. I have heard many parents pooh pooh the elementary school years whether to minimize a Yeshiva education or to minimize their choice of a lousy Yeshiva. They are so very wrong. The elementary school years are quite important actually in building self-esteem and skills.

To the letter writer,
I don't know the art world, but I do know that I have followed this mantra all my life: I do not buy anything I cannot afford today. I have said elsewhere here that CUNY/SUNY are options that should not be overlooked by parents that cannot afford high-priced private schools. Undergrad in a pricey school is less important than it used to be.

BobF said...

I think that the education is better in a private school than a state school generally but that depends on the school , the major, what the student does with it, etc. However, the networking abilities and the value of the name in the marketplace usually makes it worth it, and I admire you for giving your child these advantages at such great personal sacrifice.

If you are a person who is hiring someone and two otherwise equal seeming candidates are up for the job, one from a prestige school and one from a state school, who gets the job? 90% of the time, I would guess the prestige school.

Lion of Zion said...

BOBF:

"I think that the education is better in a private school than a state school"

here (in nyc) there are plenty of private colleges that are no better (if not worse) than the public schools. pace, liu, st. john's, touro among others come to mind.

"If you are a person who is hiring someone and two otherwise equal seeming candidates are up for the job . . ."

because they are not really "equal." the are certain assumptions that are made about the "prestige" schools. for example, even if both candidates have the identical GPA, the student at the prestige school probably worked harder for that gpa.

Mike S. said...

The comparison of both the quality of education and the monetary value of degees from two schools must be done on a case by case basis, depending on the field. One thing to consider is how certain your child is about the field. many children change their minds. I have a collegue (Math PhD) who chose a college based on the fact that she cold be a music major without having to take a single math class. She changed her mind, majored in math and went on to grad school. You may have more flexibility in a bigger school.


If you want the private school, go for it. You will be used to paying half the tuition anyway from yeshiva. For the rest, if you haven't the cash flow, look everywhere you can. You may be able to find some scholarships not run by the school, check out both student and parent loans, both from the school and elsewhere. You might consider borrowing against your 401K's/403B's, although that can have unfavorable tax consequences you'll be paying the interest to yourself. If this is your youngest child, you might consider whether you have something like a whole life you insurance policy you won't be needing to cash in.

If your child plans to make aliyah, you might ask whether there is a suitable Israeli program for your child. The tuition is a lot less, and if you make aliyah the government will pay it.

What is best for you and your child depends on a great many factors you haven't told us: your ages, what other children and other responsibiites you have and so on. You will have to decide all this quickly unfortunately.

anonymous mom said...

BTW, I did forget to commend the writer for supporting her child in pursuing a quality higher education. Especially in this day and age and especially in art. I wish them luck with the financial challenges.

aml said...

thanks for this post. I am the director of graduars admissions of a large in DC. I don't deal with undergrad on a regular basis, but here are my thoughts... (1) while the gov't sets guidelines, it is ultimately up to the school to award aid (529 account holders be warned- this is a university decision) (2) I think prestegous education is much more important at the graduate level. I'd rather my kids go to a State school for undergrad and then to a private school for grad school (though this varies from program to program (3) your child consider funding her own schooling by working g fulltime at the university. I put myself thru grad school this way and got 1/2 off tuition for my DH's undergrad program. I'm in a doctoral program now that cost me about $300 a semester for a program with a $80k price tag. She may be only able to make $25k as an admin assistant but she'll probably get school for next to nothing.

aml said...

*that should have said large university- sorry for the typos. I'm typing from my 5x3" iPhone screen on my commute home.

Anonymous said...

maybe the rabbi's should take cuts in their salaries so that people are not financially strangled. everything in the jewish world is more expensive. did you ever compare the price of kosher vs non kosher?

JLan said...

"Anonymous said...
maybe the rabbi's should take cuts in their salaries so that people are not financially strangled. everything in the jewish world is more expensive. did you ever compare the price of kosher vs non kosher?"

Clearly it was the English teachers at your school who needed more pay, since you don't seem to know where apostrophes go (or don't go).

As for the rabbis and other teachers- Charnie does not seem to have sent her kids to a Modern Orthodox school (where compensation, at least for high school, is likely to equal that of the public schools). If that read on her situation is correct then the rabbis weren't making very much money to begin with.

Mike S. said...

aml--I hope you are on the Metro, not driving.

Graduate is more important if you plan on graduate school. If you don't, undergrad matters more. That said, your degree matters most for your first job; after that, what you made of your previous jobs is what counts more. I would have figured that in art your portfolio matters more than where you went to school. Am O wrong? (I am a physicist, so I have no personal experience here)

anonymous mom said...

Aml, thanks for confirming what I have been reading lately. Private Grad is more important. Practical advice from readers like you is what makes this blog so particularly useful.

Mike S. said...

Charnie, one more thing. Term time work can help pay for college, but only if you can handle the load. My wife is a prof. and some kids can handle it, others have to drop a class each term, which means they need 5 or 6 years to graduate. I would recommend the term work only if either your kid can still do well with a full load + the job or, it is at the school and carries a major tuition break.

Lion of Zion said...

hebrew free loan association of new york has interest free loans

Lion of Zion said...

ANON:

"maybe the rabbi's should take cuts in their salaries"

my impression is that most school and pulpit rabbis are not overpaid

Anonymous said...

my impression is that most school and pulpit rabbis are not overpaid

I think that for the most part they are not overpaid. HOWEVER, there are definitely too many of them ("them" in this case meaning administrators many of whom are Rabbis). I (with many of you) have discussed this many times here on the blog.

For example, I've heard that Hillel, one of the schools here in South Florida, even has an administrator (a Rabbi) in charge of "Kiruv". This is along with various administrators such as head of school (another Rabbi), principal of lower school (another Rabbi), and principal of middle school (another Rabbi). And there are other administrators as well.

Mark

Lion of Zion said...

mark:

so are you against the proliferation of administrative positions or of administrative positions staffed by rabbis?

(as an aside, when i went to my mo day school there were plenty of male teachers and administrators who went by the simple title of "mr." what has happened that today semicha has become a requirement for positions that don't really require it?)

ora said...

mike s. said what I was thinking, but IMO it bears repeating--why not look for a program in Israel? Your child wants to live in Israel anyway. If s/he studies in the US, the result will be heavy student loan debt that will be nearly impossible to repay on an Israeli salary, and it's likely your child's Hebrew won't be at the level needed for the Israeli job market. If, OTOH, s/he makes aliya now, the government will pay university tuition, and your child wll have his/her years of study to work on Hebrew and get it to the necessary level.

I'm sure there are reasons you picked this particular school over Betzalel or another Israeli program, but think about it, is it really worth an extra $80,000-100,000 for that particular program, when your child could get a decent art education for free?

If it is really worth it, it sounds like you have no choice but to take out loans. If it's your child who's considering taking out loans and not you, make sure s/he understands the long term ramifications of that decision, especially vis-a-vis aliya. Maybe s/he could talk to graduates of the school to see what the average salary is and therefore how quickly college loans could be paid off, or could even contact Israeli employers and see if they would be eager to hire graduates from this school, and if so, at what starting salary.

JLan said...

"as an aside, when i went to my mo day school there were plenty of male teachers and administrators who went by the simple title of "mr." what has happened that today semicha has become a requirement for positions that don't really require it?"

For the various specifically Jewish subjects/an assistant principal for those subjects, it's an extra qualification (one that is unfortunately available in abundance- think of it like a Masters or a readily available PhD). For principals it's a sign of "hey, this school is Jewish"- something that has become more and more necessary as MO parents struggle with whether or not to put in the money or just send their kids to public schools.

As for non-MO schools, it's something like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for pretty much all subjects- "we have to offer history and English, but the history teachers won't talk about whether or not Kriyat Yam Suf really happenned and the English teachers won't read anything inappropriate."

jewchick said...

Lion of Zion: "even if both candidates have the identical GPA, the student at the prestige school probably worked harder for that gpa."

Actually, that's not necessarily true. At Columbia (and I'm sure other IVYs) if you get an A+ that's a 4.3 on your GPA. If you get an A+ at a CUNY or SUNY school, it's still just a 4. So the IVY GPAs are actually artificially inflated.

Charnie said...

When I got to the office this morning, there were over 20 comments to read through, so I'll try to reply to just a few issues raised.

My child is not at all lazy, and has every intention of working. It was our hope that work/study would be our "lifeline", but again, our salaries take us out of the range that qualifies. However, the admissions office has told me that they do hire students, and this is definitely a path we will pursue. Having registered already, this child's schedule, at least for this semester, will not allow them a lot of free time to pursue other jobs.

For students who want to pursue engineering, for example, MIT is the place they want to go. Ditto with this school, for this field (graphic design/illustration). And I've had it confirmed by alumni of various schools that this school, even as undergrad, made a big difference of their resumes. And also, my research in this field was that if the graduate can get a job with an American company in Israel, they can do quite a bit better then if they worked for an Israeli company.

To those who caught it, yes, the child did not attend a MO dayschool or HS.

The reason I posted this wasn't to much to look for handouts, but to emphasize how differently college finance offices work as compared to yeshiva administrators. B"H, for the most part we've been able to pay full tuition, as long as it was done "creatively". Just yesterday I negotiated terms with my youngest child's mesivta. They've agreed to allow me to make more payments, which means, each is smaller and therefore, doesn't conflict with paying the mortgage, etc., and can be spread over 12 months. Any school I've ever been involved with also knows that they can always call on me to help out, I've served on PA's, and in my previous stint with this mesivta (with an older child), I helped them with fund raising for the dinner.

Alex said...

Welcome to the real world, where your ability to pay is determined on objective standard. You don't get special treatment because you're friendly with board members. While you loved to special treatment at the Yeshiva, it also meant that other people didn't get special treatment because they didn't have the right connections.

Every "perk" you get costs money somehow, and not criticizing you for getting ones you need, but the corrupt Yeshiva financing system is part of what is strangling the communities.

That said, you prioritized Elementary Jewish education over college, that has consequences. If you put your kids into public school for K-3, and taught them the basics in Judaics (you went to a RW school, so I assume they didn't learn conversational Hebrew at a fluency level, which is more difficult to self teach) at home, that tuition money, invested over the past 15 years, would probably have funded 4 years of college.

If K-3 religious education is more important than college, you made the right call, but you are seeing the consequences of a broken set of priorities.

Quite frankly, I had 10 years of public school education, 3 years of private school, an elite college education (and later grad school), and still managed to marry a Jew, embrace religion (grew up with none), and provide for my family.

The Jewish world is 3500 years old, and the first American day school is 100 years old... the Jewish world predated our experiment with Yeshiva/Day School, and it will no doubt postdate it as well.

Charnie said...

Alex, there is no way to equate the value of Jewish education. This is a person's soul, their reason for living! I'm a BT myself, who attended (what in those days) were A#1 NYC public schools.

The K-8 portion is almost pales in comparison with what I've seen from HS and post HS.

OK readers, take out your arrows. We did send this child to Israel. It wasn't done because the Schwartz's were doing it, but because we found a school so ideally suited to this child, and the experience has touched their life enormously. I've been known to refer to it as "the pre-art-college innoculation", and in many ways, it has been. This child's Yiddishkeit is very solid, and they'll be able to withstand the "temptations" of the secular world. BTW, they attended college as well as their Jewish studies while in Israel, which is how they've completed a full year of liberal arts requirements (they also attended summer courses in July back here in NYC).

There's a lot of bitchon involved here, I truly believe that if HKBH wants this child to pursue this educational tract, we'll somehow find a way! My goal, as stated in my original post, is just not to saddle all involved with tremendous loans. We may have to tap into some retirement savings, but it's money well spent, as it is an investment in their ability to eventually be self-sufficient.

Charnie said...

One thing I neglected to mention about paying yeshiva tuition was that I didn't have any special "in" with the board(s), although many board members are also members of the same shul as we are. It just involved sitting down with the administrators, being open and honest (bringing the checkbook to show them what our monthly expenses are), and devising alternate ways to make the payments.

Ultimately, there is something wrong with a system, be it college ed or yeshivas, that "punish" people for being married. I went back to work FT when my oldest children were 2 and 3. My salary primarily goes towards tuitions and camps, my husband's towards the bills. No one who knows us in any way would ever consider us extravagent, although we probably wouldn't be even if we had the means - it's just not our personalities.

After all, as it's brought down, "who is rich? One who is happy with what they have".

tesyaa said...

Charnie, I second your sentiment that early Jewish education is key to future generations remaining Jewish and frum. In America, public school educated Jews becoming BTs is by far the exception, not the rule.

I think the problem is that you want to have both the Jewish ideals of commitment to Torah and the American ideal of "follow your dream." We Jews don't have the luxury to follow our dreams to a super expensive college education, or, necessarily, to earn a living in the art world, in which only a select few talented people will have financial success.

Dave said...

Ultimately, there is something wrong with a system, be it college ed or yeshivas, that "punish" people for being married.

You aren't being punished for being married. You are being "punished" because you have chosen to spend the income of one spouse on pre-college tuition and luxuries like camp.

You chose to prioritize those over college. You obviously think it was worth it, but that doesn't change the fact that it was your choice.

Anonymous said...

so are you against the proliferation of administrative positions or of administrative positions staffed by rabbis?

Both, but primarily the proliferation of administrators in general. It's not fair to the students, and particularly unfair to the teachers (because so much of the budget gets consumed on administration rather than direct classroom expenses, including teachers wages). When I went to school, we had one principal. That's it.

(as an aside, when i went to my mo day school there were plenty of male teachers and administrators who went by the simple title of "mr." what has happened that today semicha has become a requirement for positions that don't really require it?)

Yes, I think this is happening more and more each year. It has its good points and its bad points, and I would prefer more balance. Certainly for limudei kodesh, a Rabbi is generally more appropriate than a "Mr.", but sometimes the "Mr." is a better educator than the "Rabbi". And often the "Mr." is a better administrator than the "Rabbi".

Mark

Elitzur said...

Since this comment thread seems all over the place...
Charnie, your daughter went to non-MO schools and then (presumably) a non-MO seminary in Israel. If that's the case let me say clearly, unless you've opened your child's mind to the outside world your child has NO defense against the temptations of a secular college. It doesn't mean she will fail but very often it's the 'frum' students that are the first to fall. Make sure she comes home often...

studentloandebtor said...

I just want to be the anti- student loan contingency for a moment. Our story is scary, so hopefully it will scare someone out there off from taking out student loans.

My husband and I both went straight from expensive colleges to an expensive grad school and got a fantastically expensive graduate degree that does us NO good in the real world. We paid for all this with loans. So we started our marriage over $100 K in student loan debt. I wish someone had knocked us over the head and told us to work in the real world for a while before deciding about graduate school.

Ten years after graduating graduate school, we are 34 years old with two children and though we've made a small dent in my loans, haven't even TOUCHED the principal on my husband's loans in ten years---- over the past ten years when they weren't being deferred or in forbearance, we were only able to pay the interest. We're putting them in deferrment again now due to financial need. We have no retirement savings, have not bought (and will not buy) a house, moved cross country to live "out of town" in a place that isn't totally expensive, and will not be saving for our children's future.

We're HOPING to be able to pay yeshiva tuition by getting financial aid, but I certainly haven't ruled out homeschooling or public school.

We can purchase groceries, pay the rent for the roof over our head, and keep our utilities on, so we're considered rich in this world. But the amount of debt we owe is staggering.

Student loans would have been smart if we had chosen careers that make money. But we didn't. We both chose the field of education. So I left the field and went into sales, but now I'm at home with two babies..... and he stayed in the field and has recently taken an enormous paycut just to remain employed after he was let go from his position. He feels after ten years of teaching experience that all he knows how to do is teach, so how could he possibly do anything else.... but teaching will NEVER pay down the very student loans that gave him the degree that allows him (usually) to teach. I say usually, because ironically, he doesn't have a state teaching credential--- just a Masters. So the local public and private schools are turning him down right and left--- it will cost us another $20,000 to get him certified. For now, he's a special needs shadower working on an hourly wage.

When you take out student loans, you don't know how financially ludicrous your future will be. Be VERY cautious with those loans! They'll happily give you far more than you'll ever be able to repay.

My in laws who also have a ton of debt and no savings (they're both living on disability) said not to worry about the loans--- if we're still paying them down when we're 60, 65 years old, that's just fine. It makes me sick to my stomach to know that not only will we be paying down those loans then, but we also won't have been able to save.

Lion of Zion said...

ALEX:

"Quite frankly, I had 10 years of public school education . . . and still managed to marry a Jew . . ."

you do realize that it many parts of the country you are the exception

"The Jewish world is 3500 years old, and the first American day school is 100 years old . . ."

100 years ago york most children in new york did not get any type of jewish education. of those who did, the overwhelming majority did so in a supplementary fashion and not in a day school (of which there were only a tiny handful prior to wwII). now tell me this: how many orthodox jews that you know today had ancestors who lived here 100 years ago? where are all their descendants?

and no, i'm not saying that the day school system is the only reason for the vitality of contemporary orthodoxy (the five-day work week, the rise of multi-culturalism, etc. are also important factors), but i don't think a day school education should be dismissed so casually.


(as a historical side note, there were congregational day schools dating back to the colonial period and private day schools in 1830s-1850s, but these were finished off by the emerging public school system)

Lion of Zion said...

JEWCHICK:

"Actually, that's not necessarily true. At Columbia (and I'm sure other IVYs) if you get an A+ that's a 4.3 on your GPA. If you get an A+ at a CUNY or SUNY school, it's still just a 4. So the IVY GPAs are actually artificially inflated."

i know columbia is out of 4.3, but i don't think this really matters because (imho) the gap educational between columbia and cuny (i don't anything about suny) is more than just .3. in other words, a 4.3 at columbia is not still not the same as a 4.0 cuny

Lion of Zion said...

MARK:

"Certainly for limudei kodesh, a Rabbi is generally more appropriate than a "Mr.", but sometimes the "Mr." is a better educator than the "Rabbi". And often the "Mr." is a better administrator than the "Rabbi".

i'm not sure why being a rabbi lends qualities to being an administrator.

as far as limudei kodesh teachers, i think it depends on the grade and the particular subject matter.

Lion of Zion said...

MARK:

come to think of it, there are plenty of women teaching limude kodesh subjects and no one requires that they be rabbis.

Anonymous said...

i'm not sure why being a rabbi lends qualities to being an administrator.

It doesn't! That was part of my point. It is, in fact, often the opposite because a Rabbi has more of a desire to learn than to administer.

come to think of it, there are plenty of women teaching limudei kodesh subjects and no one requires that they be rabbis.

This reminds me of last year. My eldest, a girl, found out that her limudei kodesh teacher was going to be a man. She was a little apprehensive at first with having a "boy teacher" after all the years of only having women teachers. But after a few days/weeks, we all (including my daughter) realized what a gem the Rabbi was. So far, he is the best teacher by far that our children have had. He sort of reminds me of my best teacher (also limudei kodesh) in elementary school, Mr. Ostrow, in 6'th grade (maybe 5'th or 7'th?) at Etz Chaim in Boro Park.

Mark

Ahavah Gayle said...

That's exactly my point - you made a choice and now you're whining about it, as if the rest of the world has some obligation to bend to your Rav's worldview.

Judaism has survived for thousands of years without them, as someone above noted. Neither the world nor your kids are any different than they "used to be." There is nothing new under the sun.

You could have homeschooled your kids yourself, or formed a homeschool cooperative, or chose afternoon religious classes, or private tutoring, or tutored your child yourself after secular studies were over for the day - you had a lot of choices, but you chose to go with the one you could least afford, the one that put your child's future vocational (in the broad sense of the word) education at risk. Do you think day-school takes the place of your example at home? The fact that all your friends are also doing it doesn't make it smart - and certainly doesn't make it acceptable to the admissions board of most colleges. Good intentions do not balance your budget, only planning for your future, living within your means, and not expecting money to be handed to you on a silver platter does that.

You want some college to give your kid a free education because you wanted your kids to go to a private day school - when millions of parents, even Jewish ones, have no such means? Where did you get the idea any college had an obligation to do this? Not saving for college doesn't make your kid entitled to a free education. If it worked like that, nobody would ever save. Obviously, parents who value their children's college education save for it. By choosing not to, you told the world - and the college admissions board - that you didn't think college was a priority. Now you want the college system to reward you for that attitude?

The best day-school in the world won't stop a kid from going off the derech if they feel neglected or ignored or misunderstood at home - as hundreds of cheredi dropouts prove every year. A day school isn't "God insurance." If you think so, you're entitled to your opinion, but don't expect the college admissions board to sympathize. What they see is someone who had enough means to send their kids to a private school for k-12, but now wants a handout for college. And they see it that way because that's the way it is.

This is one issue of several similar ones - the fact that we have been bamboozled to believe we must "keep up with the Goldbergs" or we are not good parents or good Jews. And then, having faithfully poured out every cent we have toward keeping up with the Goldbergs, we find out that real life has different priorities, that Hashem is not going to drop money out of the thin blue air to pay for things we should have been saving for, or to pay the credit cards and consumer loans and home equity lines and mortgages we couldn't afford to run up but did anyway, to pay for the weddings and benei mitzvot and private school all the other things we have been told we "have" to pay for - or else we're bad parents and bad Jews.

The fact is, griping about it won't help now. Only refusing to pretend the future will take care of itself, and living within our means will help now. At least you're not in danger of having yor home foreclosed or ruining your credit because of dayschool - like so many other people have been. You are in a very good position, all things considerd, and you're whining about it! That's what I can't sympathize with - that feeling that your kid is entitled to free college education just because you're an observant Jew who chose to spend most of your resources on dayschool. What chutzpah!

SaraK said...

that feeling that your kid is entitled to free college education just because you're an observant Jew who chose to spend most of your resources on dayschool. What chutzpah!

Whoa, Ahavah! I don't know Charnie and I don't know you, but I don't think she feels that way. I think the post was really meant to vent and maybe see if readers had some ideas.

Lion of Zion said...

AHAVA GAYLE:

""Judaism has survived for thousands of years without them, as someone above noted. Neither the world nor your kids are any different than they "used to be." There is nothing new under the sun.""

please read my comment to alex above (August 27, 2008 2:14 AM)

and then i'll ask you the same question i asked him (in reference to the absence of day schools 100 years ago): "how many orthodox jews that you know today had ancestors who lived here 100 years ago? where are all their descendants?"

Charnie said...

Thank you, Sarek. You understood the purpose of my post.

We're not looking for this college to give us a free education. We work hard, have tried to be careful with spending (although, to be honest, not as fruggily/carefully as this blogger), and just hope the finance offices will work with us a bit more, as the yeshivas have.

I've known of several instances where parents home schooled their kids, but there is no way these kids could be considered even LWMO. Maybe it was the lack of contact with O peers, Rabbis, Morahs, whatever, but it just didnm't work. Maybe it's more viable with a group of children forming a small classroom setting? But that's off topic. Although some of the yeshivas may have left something to be desired at times, for the most part I'm very glad we chose each of the schools we did send our children to. Sure, kids go off the derech, but statistically, more children who did not have a Jewish education will intermarry then those who went to yeshivas will go off.

Alex said...

According the the demographic numbers, Orthodox Jews have lowered their intermarriage rate from 10% to 3%, while other groups have gone from around 20% to 33% (Conservative), 45% (Reform), 55% (Unaffiliated/Secular)... it is hypothesized that Day School is a big part of that fact, because Day Schools have a high correlation with avoiding intermarriage.

What this ignores is the explosion in birth rates. Sending 2-3 children to Day School is one thing, 8-9 to Yeshiva is another.

Also, none of these demographic studies look at observance in the home. Orthodox, demographically, means member of Orthodox synagogue... two generations ago, most Orthodox members weren't Shabbat observant. Now, most are. That has to have a huge impact on intermarriage, because the religion has way more meaning to those that practice it than those that learn about it.

Anonymous said...

How many orthodox Jews that you know today had ancestors who lived here 100 years ago? where are all their descendants?

Many of them are now non-Jews, but not solely because they didn't go to day schools, but rather because their total level of commitment to Judaism was lower. Not sending kids to day schools is only a symptom, not the disease.

The disease is "living in a non-Jewish free and open society" (and not being affluent enough to insulate your family from it). The Jews that lived in the USA at the start of the 20'th century "lost their religion" pretty quickly and in a few easy steps. First step was "not looking too Jewish" (there was massive discrimination), second step was "working on Shabbat" (there were no laws prohibiting having to work on Saturday), third step was "fitting in" (the kids had to be allowed to mingle with the neighbors), and voila, fourth step is marrying the neighbors daughter. And that is the end of the line for that particular Jewish family.

BUT, it doesn't solely relate to day schools. My parents, and the vast majority of their friends, went to public school (interestingly enough, my father spent a few weeks at Torah VoDaas before he spoke any English, but hated it and switched to public school) and of the 15 or so (and only about 2/3 of those were strictly orthodox to begin with) that they are still in contact with, none married non-Jews. Unfortunately, some of their children have. I think that at the time (1950's), in New York City, the public schools were full of Jews, orthodox and non-orthodox, so the kids could socialize with other Jews. Today, there are hardly any orthodox Jews in the public schools, and even the non-orthodox tend to send their kids more and more to private day schools.

In my neighborhood, there is a definite stigma on kids who go to public school. Some parents don't want their kids to socialize with them, and that only increases the chance that those orthodox kids in public school will stray. It's not fair, but it is a fact (it is also one of the reasons all my kids are in day school).

Mark