Tuition Assistance: Revisited

This is the 2nd post in the Resurrection Series of my blog, leading up to the Summer vacation.

An additional questionnaire was sent home this year, mandatory for all families asking for assistance. I understand why this questionnaire was sent home, but the only possible outcome is a negative one. As if families do not already feel degraded by asking for help, now they are forced to fill out yet another form, that is not even anonymous (signature required on the bottom!), practically itemizing their spending.

We live in a small community. Regardless of how confidential it is supposed to be, most people are aware of those families who are not paying full tuition. Here’s more fodder for Lashon Harah. Who sees this form? Who will take away any last remaining dignity from these families who are simply trying to get their children a decent Jewish education?

1. Please explain in detail any changes in your financial situation from the past year.
Fair enough.

2. Please list all schools that your children attend and the financial aid awarded in the current school year as well as for the coming year if already awarded. (Include total tuition and assistance)

3. Describe any trips or vacations that you have taken within the past two years as well as any that you have planned within the next 12 months.

Say, for example, your brother is getting married, so you shouldn’t go? Or you should go alone and not bring the family? And what of the people whose families offer to pay for them to go? Or to come visit for Pesach or another holiday? How does one say to one’s children “I’m so sorry we can’t spend Succot with Bubbe & Zaide, but you see, if we accept their kind offer of paying for our tickets, the school won’t allow us to stay there, because they want that money instead.” A great way to raise children with a love of Judaism and the Day School environment.

Perhaps these are not the trips the questionnaire is asking about. Perhaps they are asking only about cruises, and fun trips to Orlando. But honestly, it doesn’t matter. If a family member says “you need a break, I’m sending you on a cruise for a few days”, who says “oh, would you mind giving me the cash so I can donate it to the kids’ school?”

4. Please list any camps or other summer programs that your children attended this past summer or plan to attend this coming summer and the financial aid awarded if applicable (include total fee and assistance)

So, you have two working parents. The kids need to be in camp, clearly. This does not specifically refer to sleep away camps, so evidently they are talking about all summer programs. What do they want working parents to do with their children all summer? And for stay at home parent families, I tried it last year, the no camp thing, and while I loved spending the time with my kids, the feeling wasn’t mutual because their friends were all at camp…

5. What are your monthly home child and day care expenses?

Again, if parents are working, what difference does it make? Someone needs to be home for the kids.

6. What are your monthly domestic help expenses?

This question irritated me more than any, with the exception of the next question.

7. Do you receive any other financial assistance from parents, extended family, etc? If yes, how much? Please include money received from any resources not included on the FACTS form.

No.  Just outright NO. If my parents hand me a wad of cash before they leave from a visit, that’s none of your damn business. If my grandparents died and left me an inheritance, don’t so much as think about it. Tuition assistance should be based upon what the parents of the children can afford to pay. I don’t really care that the OU summit decided that grandparents (specifically paternal, I recall) should be responsible for tuition if the parents cannot afford it. The attendees at the summit clearly do not live in the real world. No grandparent should be held responsible for paying for their grandchildren’s tuition. Are all grandparents that wealthy? Should grandparents donate money to the schools that their grandchildren attend? Absolutely, part of their tzedakah should be allocated to those schools. But that’s it. I argued this before in an earlier blog post, by asking for grandparents to pay their grandchildren’s tuition, we are creating an environment similar to the Chareidi one, where generations sit and learn and never work, while supported by their parents and grandparents. This is not what we do.

8. Please use the space below to provide any additional information that might help the committee understand your application request. (You may attach additional sheets).

Anyone who got this far, and was still able to answer, well, wow.

>>I hereby affirm that the information contained within this form is true and >>correct. I am aware of the fact that if the committee finds any of this information >>to be false or incorrect that I forfeit all financial assistance.

The problem with this form is that those who are already scamming the system will continue to do so, and the people who will actually get screwed are the ones who truly need the help.

Personally, my first reaction when I saw this was “Thank G-d I don’t have to fill this out”
Because it made me feel sick to my stomach.

Let’s not forget the questions that were not asked, but perhaps should have been included:

Question 9:
How much do you spend on coffee at Starbucks etc. in an average week?

Question 10:
How much do you spend on birthday parties for each of your children annually?

Question 11:
How much do you spend on manicures and pedicures monthly?

Question 12:
How much money did you donate to tzedakah in the past 2 years, and how much do you plan to give in the next 12 months? Please list each cause and explain why they are more deserving of your money than our school.

Shabbat Shalom.




3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. tetisheri (@tetisheri1972)
    May 11, 2012 @ 10:17:32

    Oh my gosh. Wow. How intrusive. I would have been furious.



  2. Abba's Rantings
    Aug 13, 2012 @ 19:08:19

    of course the process is intrusive. how else is the committee supposed to determine how to allocate the limited funds available? yes, it is terrible to be to be subjected to such a process, but what would you recommend as an alternative? (would it better if the there were an indpendent third party determining the level of assistance or if the process were blinded?)

    and i completely disagree wrt to the school\’s claim on gifts from grandparents or a yerusha. assests/income are assests/income regardless of the source. every dollar of scholarship money has to be raised from a third party (either by raising tuition or outside fundraising). if a grandparent shouldn\’t be expected to contribute to tuition, why should a neighbor or more often than not a stranger?


    • vanessabrooksceo
      Aug 13, 2012 @ 19:23:00

      Quite simply, people need to live. Yes, a third party would be preferable, especially in a smaller community where everyone knows who lives in what house etc. When I asked the president of this school a year ago how he felt a birthday gift of $100 to the parent of a child on TA should be spent, he responded immediately that it should be given to the school. I disagree completely. Yes, parents on assistance should give as much as they can, but no one should be forced to give up the pleasure of a birthday gift! Should children whose parents cannot pay full tuition be forever denied birthday presents and parties?


Please comment - anonymously if you choose

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: