Got Orthonomics in your Email Box?

Sunday, February 07, 2010

A Practical Suggestion

Readers of the Orthonomically focused blogs are looking for solutions. I would like to respond to a comment left here and on Honestly Frum:

[A Bergen County Yeshiva] just mailed out requests for $950 application fee and will not tell us what tuition will be until the spring. they state that it is common courtesy for parents to send in the application fee on time apparently they do not think it is common courtesy for the yeshiva to tell parents what the tuition will be before they commit to another year of tuition.

I'm not the protesting type as I've said before. If I was dealing with administrations playing this type of game, I wouldn't even bother hanging on for another year. But for those that are determined to hang on, but are feeling bitter as could be, I suggest it is time to take a risk and do something. . . . anything.

I humbly suggest that parents of the Yeshiva referred to above return the application with the following note. You don't even need to write your own letter, I've penned a letter below and you are welcome to give your friends a word document so they can fill in the blanks and submit it themselves. This is hardly drastic, but if enough tuition paying families made such a

To the Board and Administration of [Yeshiva],

We have noted that a tuition schedule for the 2010/11 was not included in the admissions package. As such, we cannot in good conscience enroll [list of names], for the upcoming school year without knowing if tuition is within our reach. Certainly an institution of Torah, which looks to instill proper character traits, will understand the gravity of entering into a binding contract for which we cannot ascertain our obligation.

As such, we will not be enrolling our child[ren] until a tuition schedule is received. Additionally, if we make the determination to re-enroll our children, we will submit the registration fee of $950, no more and no less, despite missing the registration deadline, because you have failed to provide a complete enrollment package and as such it is unreasonable to expect parents to register with incomplete information.

Sincerely,

[Signatures]

Parents, if you want to continue to play cat and mouse, register blindly. If you want to end monopolistic practices and introduce some free market principles back into the world of day schools and Yeshivot, flex a bit of muscle.

33 comments:

tesyaa said...

SL - as far as I know, the actual tuition contract is not signed at the time of submitting registration. That is signed later. No one is enterint into a binding contract before the actual fees are known.

And the "registration fee" is part of tuition, just stated another way. In my school, "early" registration is $300 and "late" registration is $600. It's just a way for the school to dampen the impact of the parents seeing the total tuition figures all at once.

Finally, it has been repeated ad nauseum that the Bergen County schools have waiting lists. If registrations aren't submitted by the early date, they'll start to take new families ahead of existing families. (Which, to play devil's advocate, is only fair. How do they know who'll actually be returning without the registration package?)

It seems that there are plenty of people lining up to go to these schools.

Ariella said...

My son's elementary school (he's now in HS) had a registration fee of $900. But that is on the high side. My girls' schools was at the time $500 and is now $600. Clearly the school regarded the "registration" as a major source of funding because the dinner was not obligatory there as it is for most yeshivos.

cry babbies said...

Registration at Bergen County schools have been locking in registrants prior to tution schedules for many years.

Bergen county parents "wish" tuition was lower but have demonstrated many times over that they actually prefer higher tuitions than being inconvenienced by anything including social pressures. Don't cry too hard for these people. They don't help themselves one bit.

Anonymous said...

Tesya - you frequently make insiteful comments - however this comment above is not one of them - when a parent pays $950 - they are effectively committed to paying tuition for the following year - maybe people in Passaic don't feel that way - but in BC - if you lay down $950 - you are effectively hooked in -

also I do not think bergen county yeshivos are oversubscribed with full tuition paying parents

but maybe the arrogance of demanding $950 upfont before knowing what tuition is - is a result of the perception among bergen county yeshiva administrators that BC parents love their schools so much despite any abuse the yeshivas heap on the parents (sounds like an abusive relationship)that they will not go any where else

Anonymous said...

cry bab - there is some truth to what you are saying riddle me this

why does maayanot with $22,000 tuition have more students than bat torah with $8,000 tuition ???

cry babby said...

Exactly, BC parents cry all day about tuition, but when it comes down to it, they'll go to expensvie schools (like maayanot vs. bat torah) claim poverty and therefore need scholarships or complain their backs are broken for paying full.

Only in frumyville, do people complain about "having to pay" so much money. Duh,if you don't like it, do something about it.

I saw on another board that JFS announced their 2010 - 2011 tuition is going to be $6,500 next year (plus 2k for transportation). How many bergen county families will go? I bet no more than another 3 or 4 tops.

Anonymous said...

I hope that people change the word "conscious" in the letter to "conscience."

ProfK said...

As an outsider to BC I see this registration fee in a different way. It's a way to get more funds out of parents THIS year while ostensibly being for next year. If 200 parents send in this money that's about 200K available to spend right now, since the fee is non-refundable.

If there really is such a competition to get into the BC schools because of lack of space, something HF's commenters have mentioned, there's another way to circumvent this. Make the checks post dated to the date that the actual tuition amount becomes public knowledge. Any school on the up and up should not object. After all, they would have the committment from the parents even if not the funds to use a year early.

tesyaa said...

Anon 10:44 - I'm just speaking as to why the schools think they can do this - not defending them. Technically, it's true that the contract isn't binding yet. $950 is excessive, I agree 100%. So what I don't understand is why the schools have waiting lists. Vote with your feet - choose JFS, homeschooling, cooperative schooling, etc.

tesyaa said...

OK.

Passaic - registration is $300 / $500 after deadline.

Elizabeth - registration is $350 / $700 after deadline AND tuition schedule was enclosed in registration package.

WHY is Bergen County marching to the beat of its own drummer - to the tune of $950?

tesyaa said...

My view is that to take the Bergen County situation and to make it an example of the tuition crisis makes no sense. There is something else going on there, apparently. Maybe it's something in the water?

Anonymous said...

tesyaa - Is there a greater concentration of people in certain career paths in BC -- i.e. lawyers and people who work in finance and on wall street (and drs.)? That could explain a lot -- too many people in overly-competitive stressed out careers who aren't able to get off the tread-mill and fight for a simpler, less costly way of doing things. They are terrified that if their children don't get the most expensive education then they won't be able to get into the right school, right grad school and get the right job so they don't rock the boat or chose other alternatives, so the schools can do as they please.

tesyaa said...

I don't want to appear to be knocking Bergen County. I'm not. I have wonderful friends there, amazing people, and I'm sure the kids are getting a great education. I'm just not sure why costs are so different from other NJ communities, especially since it seems like people can't bear the costs.

Honestly Frum said...

As far as I know the registration fee has not gone up significantly, if at all, over the last few years. It is part of the tuition that is simply prepaid. The reason it is so high is because parents would register their kids in a few schools to make sure they had a spot and then decide later which school to send to and forfeit the few hundred dollars leaving the school at a loss when they might have been turning people away because they thought their classes were full. This is simply a deterrent from that. It makes perfect sense to me. I do think that the cost should be told at the time of registration (I am working on a post on that now).

Ariella said...

Tesya, as I pointed out, it may be above average, but it is not unique in such high registration fees.

Orthonomics said...

Anon-I made the correction. Was typing too quickly last night.

$950 as registration is massive. We pay $50 + some pre-paid tuition.

Anonymous said...

tesyaa - especially since it seems like people can't bear the costs.

What are you basing this statement on? I mean, I agree (recession, joblessness, etc), but I haven't seen anything definitive that indicates it is true. Just because a few people are anonymously, and repeatedly, complaining about tuition on blogs doesn't mean it is true. Actions speak much louder than words, especially anonymous words, and unless there are definitive facts regarding lower numbers of registered students, or higher levels of tzedaka (in the form of tuition discounts), then there is simply no proof that this statement is true.

In the end, the only situation we really know about is our own.

Mark

Bklynmom said...

What happens if a family decides thay can't afford tuition? Do they get their $950 refunded? Are the schools forcing parents to commit to a year of tuition no matter what or lose a significant amount of money? I find that abhorrent.
I am equally dingusted by the practice of putting down a deposit in more than one school. I can see waiting until later in the school year in cases when a student is struggling academically and may need to transfer schools, but how many families did it that reason? And how many did it because we are victims of our own success--we have so many schools, we just can't decide. I am guessing the second reason is far more prevalent. The community is forgetting how hard our grandparents had it and how far we have come. That attitude spells trouble down the road.

Honestly Frum said...

BKLYN MOM, The trouble is here now. I have spoken to board members at one of the institutions where is was systemic that parents would register at various schools and decide later. It was for that reason that they decided to make registration significant.

tesyaa said...

Mark, you may have a point - if, as HF says, it was commonplace to register at various schools and forfeit several hundred dollars in deposits. It's a sign of wealth when money is so easily forfeited. To me, $300 is a significant enough sum that I wouldn't give it up without a really good reason.

Bklynmom said...

Honestly Frum--
I meant trouble in the more global sense--disregard for the consequences of one's actions, dishonesty, hurting Jewish institutions, fall from the height at which the Jewish community in the US now finds itself.

Bklynmom said...

Another thought--by registering in more than one school the parents are telling the schools that there is no financial strain. After all, if parents can give up a few hundred dollars so easily, why should the schools believe there is a financial crisis? And, if the community does not have consideration for the schools that educate their children and that need to plan class sizes, staff, finances, etc, why should the schools have consideration for the needs of the community?

Honestly Frum said...

BKLN MOM, Like I said, trouble is already here :-)

Lion of Zion said...

i forget the registration fee in my son's school, but i think it's $500. if you pay it by jan. 1, you lock in the current year's tuition. so no secrets.

Avi said...

SL -

It's the exact same thing here. $50 covers the cost of administration for registration and the rest ($900 in this case) is prepaid tuition. It's just called $950 "registration."

But to your larger point, paying the money up front doesn't bother me. Not knowing my costs up front does. A lot.

Light of Israel said...

Nonsense. The only reason why registrations have become significant amounts is so that schools can get cash upfront. There is little movement between the schools (less than 2-3% in Bergen County) each year.

Schools use it for cash flow and are spending registration money in the year they collect it rather than using it for the next year (to which year they supposedly have collected it for). Not good finanical planning and explains partially why schools are always behind.

Anonymous said...

LOI - in that case, if families withhold their registrations in protest, the schools will be hurting financially. I can't think of a better way to send a message that their practices are out of line.

Anonymous said...

HF - I understand the registration fees - BUT TELL US HOW MUCH TUITION IS - TELL US HOW MUCH WE ARE SIGNING UP FOR ?

Honestly Frum said...

Anon, I don't have that info, and I suspect neither do the schools.

Anonymous said...

and now an opinion from the other side from someone who is working with the schools to lower tuition

the problems with setting the price in advance is we need to know how many students are coming in. If there are less, maybe we can have less teachers and less tuition. Do we put more students in a class? Do we hire teachers and assitants instead of two teachers?

People want the best and the biggest part of the tuition is the salaries for teachers and administrators. (salary and how many administrators is a valid discussion but not here).

So let's put the calender together. First you need to know how many students you are going to have. Then you can plan on how many faculty you need and give advance notice to higher or fire. Then you can set the tuition at the same time.

Your letter is really worthless. Anyone who really cares just needs to go to the school and volunteer. I have five kids in two schools and have served on the boards on both schools. Not by giving extra money, but by going in, giving my time and saying I want to be involved. If you actually tried having an interest in your childrens education, you can make a difference.

Commenter Abbi said...

Anon, your entire post is hogwash. For the prominent BC schools, that actually have waiting lists, they know exactly how many kids they will have next year because they'll fill nearly every spot. And they know who will be working next year because it's nearly impossible to fire day school teachers and unless they move or die, the school pretty much knows who will be on staff (my second grade teacher is still working at my old day school and i'm 35). Seriously, day school budgets don't drastically change from one year to the next and if they do, that's a serious problem with the school.
And why should parents have to volunteer to get basic financial info about the school? Are you saying only volunteers can be privy to this info because they can nip into the office to take a peek?

tesyaa said...

it's nearly impossible to fire day school teachers and unless they move or die

I think this is more true in the public schools where tenure makes it impossible to fire. I know of yeshiva teachers who weren't invited back.

JLan said...

The school that I work at sent out an email last week listing tuition for the next year across all age groups (not a BC school, but a nearby one that a lot of BC parents send their kids to, especially for high school). As such, I presume that parents have an idea of the (astronimcal) costs they'll be asked to bear next year.

As for Anonymous' comment above- the BC schools all have an idea of how many kids they're taking. This isn't rocket science and their staffing needs aren't going to change suddenly. And it's rediculous to say that one needs to be volunteering at the school to get the kind of information that anyone associated with the school should have.