A Reader Writes: 82% of Salary for Tuition


kidsDear Editor, 

I would like to address recent discussion regarding high tuition costs.

I believe I have bitachon especially in parnassa issues because of events that have taken place in my past. That having been said, last year, after receiving scholarships from the various yeshivos that my children attend (I have 6 children in 5 yeshivos – 3 different levels: bais medrash, high school, elementary school), my total tuition bill came to approximately 82% of my take-home (net) salary. My mortgage payment put me over 100%. That meant that even if I totally gave up everything in my life except the house, I would still be running in the negative. For the record, although I’m not going to give out my salary, I am receiving a high five-figure salary in a major New York financial institution.
            While I don’t advocate any sort of ridiculous alternative to a solid – and necessary – yeshiva education, clearly, something has to be done about exorbitant tuition costs.
            It is good there’s plastic, I guess.
Shalom W.


  1. “For the record, although I’m not going to give out my salary, I am receiving a high five-figure salary in a major New York financial institution.”

    Assuming you are making at least 80,000, and 82% would be $65,600, you are paying on average over $10,000 per child AFTER scholarships, sorry but something doesn’t add up.

  2. I am sorry to dissapoint you- but plastic is not the answer- I assume by the situation you presented you would be charging a minimum of 15k a year- R’ Yid- the numbers are staggering-
    I t would take you a lifetime and then some to pay it off- as you will always be charging more and more- I know because I’ve been there and done that!

  3. Actually, someone who is making $80,000 would pay taxes of about $20,000 – $25,000 between federal, state, and local income taxes, payroll taxes, and all other assorted taxes. So NET INCOME would be $55k – $60k.

    82% of $55k is $45,100. Divide that by 6 children, that’s $7,516.16 per child. Sounds pretty normal to me.

    By the way, the single large expense that us frum jews have that the regular American family does not have is TUITION and WEDDING EXPENSES. There is a reason that the poverty is so great.

  4. To Mr Me-
    You forgot to chesbon in basic tax witholding – such as social security- 7.65%, some IRS witholding which would further reduce the base to let’s assume- 65-70k- now you are talking about a much more reasonable number-

  5. To Me Time,

    The letter writer specified 82% of TAKE HOME pay. Social Security is about 7.5%, say another 10% for fed & state taxes after deductions– $80k minus 17.5% = $66k Net. 82% of that = $54,120– so for 6 kids it’s $9,020 each. Aren’t most bati medrash and high schools more than that?

  6. ME –
    assuming the letter writer was referring to his gross income as being in the high five-figures, his net income is most likely way lower than $65,600. Taxes being what they are, you can’t get by with less than a six figure income and still pay your tuition and mortgage, and even then, it’s really not so simple.

  7. Anonymous, you’re right that plastic’s not the answer as we’re at the end of the line ourselves.
    But what is the answer? We’ve been told that all we can do is make reasonable hishtadlus and Hashem will take care of us. Yet working hard and earning anything less than maybe 150K just doesn’t make it (unless you’re earning well from the start, but if you start off unsupported in kollel, then take time to learn a trade and start at entry level….).
    The logical answer might be, the lottery 😉 Doesn’t work too often. My only conclusion is that Hashem has an infinitely much better imagination than do I and has His plans for us.

  8. I don’t chap what’s going on in lakewood the highest tuition per child is around 4 grand where do u get such # ? If this is what’s going on in NY than no wonder everyones moving to lakewood ?!?!?!

  9. #1 Who says you need a mortgage? In many markets, renting is the more fiscally responsible choice.

    #2 If you’re not making ends meet, perhaps it’s time to consider asking your wife to share the burden. The vast majority of American families a dual income, and that’s without tuition, chassunahs and kosher food. Why do we think it should be different for us?

  10. Rabaynu, if you’re paying tuition for a large number of kids (not all who are in the low cost mosdos anymore) most people will have problems.

    I hate to hit tuition for this. It’s our obligation, and the schools I deal with are run responsibly, leshem shamayim, and struggling. I wish with all my heart we could fulfill our obligations, and hate having to ask for an even larger scholarship this year.

    Maybe the answer is more communal support, endowments? I don’t know.

  11. Here on Matzav I saw a post a few days ago (maybe a week ago) that Agudath Israel is holding an essay contest iwth the first prize being a year of free tuition. For years Agudath Israel has been working to relieve yiddishe families of the tuition burden we are all facing…

    for those who didn’t see the post – you can call 440-278-4244 for an entry form for your child…

  12. if by qualifications you mean age requirements yes – children in grades 4-8 are eligible (and the first prize is a camp scholarship for them) and in high school (for the first prize of free tuition.) They also have to live in NJ, Chicago, Texas, Ohio or Wisconsin.

  13. I don’t chap what’s going on in lakewood the highest tuition per child is around 4 grand where do u get such

    I live in Lakewood and pay 5,000, plus many extras through out the year, And my son isn’t in the most expensive Yeshiva in Lakewood.Please note I’m writing this for informational purposes.I am NOT complaining about how much I have to pay.And I’m no gevir.I wish I could afford to have a mortgage to pay.(FYI I’m not on HUD either)

  14. By the way, have you noticed lately that the Moisdois suggest if you don’t have the money give us you card? Like they are the one and only who needs to survive

  15. To the poster with the two suggestions above: Maybe there is a reason why the mother is not working…children in kinderegarten who come home at 2:00?

    As far as renting versus owning – how much rent are you willing to pay to house a family of eight? Considering a 2 bedroom apartment is about 1500 a month and is NOT tax deductible it would not be feasible to pay just as the mortgage.

    The question becomes: one is supposed to spend up to 20% of his nechasim for a mitzvah. Why is tuition different? I am in the same boat as this gentleman except I have more children. My tuition bill prior to “breaks” is around 70% of my NET INCOME. With brekas it is around 50%. Consider what it costs to feed and cloth a family and tell me how to do it without drowning in debt.

    In this weeks Chinuch Roundtable in the Yated Rabbi Bender wrote that he was “astounded” to find out that 75% of a class answered that thereothers work outside the home. Are our mechanchim so out of touch?

  16. If it’s Bashert how much money you are going to earn during the year, then the wife does NOT have to go to work. The husband is the Shliach & Hshm will send what he needs through him. It is Taluey on your level of Betachon.

  17. I realize that mosdos are struggling, but it is clear that you should be getting more of a scholarship than you are currently getting. Just like a person is not permitted to give more than 20% of his income for tzedakah, the same holds true for other mitzvos as well, including paying for your children’s chinuch. The problem is that most yeshivos and girls schools are funded almost entirely by the students’ parents. We treat all sorts of things as worthy tzedakos, and they are, but we neglect what should be one of the highest priorities, making sure that every frum child can get a Torah education. We should not be impovershing parents to do so.

  18. Of course if the oldest son wants to leave yeshiva and go to work so his parents dont have to pay 12000+ tuition , he will not get a shidduch-go ahead -shake your head and say that there are plenty of girls who will date working guys. And then dont let me date your daughter. In fact I wouldn be surprised if you didnt let me date your niece! Yes im bitter-so what?

  19. It’s also dependant upon a reasonable hishtadlus. In today’s world, that might just be becoming a dual income family. Don’t dismiss the notion out of pocket – ask the shialeh, you might be surprised at the answer.

  20. Anonymous: what if the wife can’t bring in a sufficient amount (to stay afloat I would think they need at least 50 – 60k more, after expenses,etc.) or needs extensive training or schooling? I know a number of women who went back to school and are having a hard time finding jobs, and have their loans to think of too.

  21. You should see what goes on in out of town schools, places like cleveland where desller family makes high six figures salaeries and their teachers cant afford to pay any other of theyr bills and have to work two or three jobs.

  22. >>I don’t chap what’s going on in lakewood the highest tuition per child is around 4 grand where do u get such>>

    what does “chap” mean? Maybe part of the problem is that our children, and their parents cannot read, write speak or spell ENGLISH???

  23. I sympathize with you. You are the victim of the chareidi Catch-22. First, they tell their constituents to learn and avoid a good secular education. Then they ask for tuition which is beyond the means of their recommended lifestyle. Then they make them feel guilty for going out to work to make enough money to pay for tuition. Then they don’t even want to accept your children into their schoools because tatee has a job. And if tatee has a job, then he has to pay full tuition, which he can’t afford because he listened to the gedolim all these years. Good luck, it’s a crazy system.

  24. Shlomo zalman . post more comments! write letters ! do something! we can start a tipping point and maybe raise awareness. dont wish us luck. Help us!