Thursday, January 7, 2010

So What's It Gonna Cost Me? (Introduction)

Part of understanding the tuition crisis is understanding exactly what tuition costs. For most schools this is literally impossible unless you can prove you have children that you are ready and willing to enroll. Friends of mine have young children that will be "of age" in another 2 or so years and have been trying to figure out how much tuition is going to cost them. The answers they have received generally fall into two categories:

1) Don't worry about it. We'll work with you to come up with a number you can afford.

2) Fill out an application with the registration fee of several hundred dollars and we'll talk.

Another difficulty in figuring out the "true cost" is that everyone you talk to, assuming they'll be honest with you, reports back a different number! Two families with children in the same grades each pay vastly different amounts thus obscuring what tuition actually costs.

Additionally, yeshiva tuition is broken down into so many different parts that it's not enough to merely know what the "tuition" is. You need to know what the registration fee is, what the dinner journal fee is, what the building fund is, what the scrip amount is, and lots of other little fees and add ons.

All this makes it impossible for a family to adequately plan for what yeshiva tuition is going to cost them beyond "a lot."

Of course some schools actually do provide this data on their websites and I hope to begin a small series explaining the different costs and calculating how much a typical family of four would have to pay if all kids were in that school. I would note that this is the most economical option for the family. If the children are in different schools, the parents subject themselves to having to pay far more "per family" charges to each school. As this series will demonstrate, these "per family" charges can be substantial.

5 comments:

Honestly Frum said...

Most schools send you a detailed bill that breaks out all of the cost I.E. actual tuition, scrips, registration, dinner, building fund. Although they do not give you an itemized break down of where each dollar goes but if you ask them they will generally tell you. Also, if you call the school they will tell you what the all in cost is so you know what tuition will cost you. In my area everyone knows how much each of the schools cost.

Tuition Talk said...

To clarify, I was referring to trying to figure out what the tuition will cost BEFORE the fact. Obviously once your child is enrolled you know what the cost is.

I based the post mainly on my friend's experience. He called about 10 different yeshivas ranging from MO to more RW and either got stonewalled because the yeshivas thought he was fishing for information so he could "comparison shop" or was simply told that it's too variable given scholarships and that they would work with him to figure out what he could pay.

I appreciate that schools are willing to work with parents and offer scholarships, but this makes it impossible for parents to plan adequately and essentially throws them on the mercy of the schools.

ProfK said...

I agree that having all your kids in one yeshiva would save you certain costs that are Per Family rather than per student, but that's not the reality for many parents out there. First, they may opt for single sex schools but have both sons and daughters, thus necessitating two different schools. Then there are ages of those children. It is not only quite possible but happens all the time that one parent could have children in four yeshivas--boys yeshiva ketana, girls yeshiva ketana, boys high school, girls high school. It is also possible that there could be an additional child in a separate pre-school program and/or post high school program.

It's been my experience that when you have your children in different yeshivas none of the yeshivas involved seem to care that you are also paying tuition elsewhere when they figure out what you can pay them.

And despite what HF says is the case in BC, when I had a project recently to get the exact amounts of tuition and fees for each yeshiva in the metropolitan area, I basically got told come down with an actual child to register and we might talk to you.

Tuition Talk said...

ProfK,

Exactly. This mirrors my friend's experience to a T. He has twins that are nearly 3 and is freaking out about the double tuition that will hit all at once. He was told over and over that unless he was actually registering his children there was nothing to discuss. I think the yeshivas do this to prevent comparison shopping.

I also think you're right about the multiple yeshivas. It's true even if a parent is OK with co-ed yeshivas. There aren't many that run Pre-K through 12th grade. And yes, I have heard anecdotally that yeshivas don't care what other schools your other children are in.

ProfK said...

Tuition,

Years back the then RJJ school in SI had a policy that if you had three children in the school the tuition for the third child was reduced by X amount. More than 3 children also resulted in a deduction for the subsequent children. However, having a mix of boys and girls didn't get you the reduction. We had three children in yeshiva at the same time, but two different yeshivas. Neither RJJ nor my daughters' schools figured in other tuitions we were paying as part of their reckoning. Okay, we paid full tuition--and it was a lot less back then as a percentage of income--but the yeshivas didn't want to hear about another yeshiva.