I may sound like a broken record to Matzav readers, and yes it is always an issue every year around this time, but so many of us are suffering and nobody is helping us. Please, there is probably no bigger issue facing Klal Yisroel today than the tuition crisis and what it is doing to our families and our schools, yet somehow a solution is nowhere to be found.
I am your typical struggling middle-class guy. My wife and I work full time and we cannot make it. It is the worst feeling to go to sleep each night and awake each morning feeling so alone and so helpless, with no help in sight. But let’s forget about my problems, because they are mine to deal with, and if I am big enough to have a family, then I need to be big enough to figure out how to make it.
My kids did nothing wrong. They were born into my family and with much siyata diShmaya they are raised in a happy home and are happy children, even without most of what they see others have. Yet, they have no idea how they did in school last year because I cannot get their report cards, since my tuition bill is still not paid.
Can I say I was “forced” to sign that tuition agreement last year? I was not forced to, because I could have always chosen a different school, right? Did I sign it because I felt I had no choice and hoped Hashem would send me the extra matanah to be able to pay it? Yes, I did. Did it happen? Nope.
I cannot get report cards for last year. I cannot get registration papers for this year, because on top of the tuition I already owe, I also have to pay a registration fee every year for each of my seven children. I cannot get my child’s diploma (its three years already that I am waiting for it), because I still have a balance for my child who graduated that I cannot seem to find the funds for. I cannot get transcripts or credits for the same reason, so my son in 5th year bais medrash cannot go to school without his credits.
Anyone reading Matzav care for me to continue?
What in the world am I supposed to do? My child in high school still does not know if she passed her Regent exam or needs to retake the course, because the school will not tell me this information or give me her report card, since it is all they have to hold against me to get me to pay the tuition money they are so sure I have hidden somewhere. They believe I am just playing hardball with them. My daughter also never got her papers to choose which friends she would like to be with as she enters her new school year, because I didn’t pay my obligation, since I am hiding all of my money from the school.
Boruch Hashem a million times over, my kids don’t hate me for letting them down, but they sure do feel bad that they have no idea when school starts and are too embarrassed to call their friends to get all of the school info they need.
My wife tries to go shopping with friends who have children in our own children’s classes so she can just buy the same school supplies she sees the other mothers buying, since we did not get our school supply list.
Shall I continue?
I truly feel bad for the schools, because they need this money to pay their bills. I don’t have it and I have exhausted every option – family, friends and gemachs – I know of just to keep my own home from being taken by the bank and for putting food on my table. I make too much to qualify for Medicaid and food stamps, but way too little to support my family and get health insurance. I don’t go on any vacation, even just for a night to get away. (My wonderful in-laws offered my wife and me a two-day, one-night get-away to some place in the Catskills where we can drive to, and they said they will pay for it and watch our kids. My amazing wife turned it down not because we didn’t need or want it, but because she is afraid to go since the schools will tell us that we managed to get away for a small vacation, so we must be able to pay our tuitions.
25 years of marriage. 0 vacations.
My letter can be signed by hundreds of hardworking parents who are going through the same issue. What do we do? We cry. We daven. We do everything we can, yet the feeling you get looking into your child’s eyes and seeing their disappointment and realizing that your child is being punished or held hostage or whatever you want to call it all because of your inability to make ends meet is just so heartbreaking.
Somebody out there, somewhere, somehow, for the thousands of us worldwide who are suffering, please come up with a solution.
A Heartbroken Father