The Matzav Shmoooze: A Practical and Real Solution to the Tuition Crisis (if you really care to solve it)


tuitionDear readers,

Sadly, this Crisis known to all as the Tuition Crisis is falling on deaf ears. The Hamodia recently published in their magazine (the cover article) about the crisis. The Yated’s Pesach edition addressed it in the Chinuch roundtable. Torah Umesorah dedicated a portion of their administrative conference to this issue and nothing N-O-T-H-I-N-G!!! has happened. The reason? It all boils down to controls. We no longer have the Kehilla and no longer have the proper control. Rabbonim seem to have lost their power only because the tzibbur doesn’t listen.

Rabbonim can speak but schools do as they please. The Rabbonim have no Shlit’a on the schools, and it seems the Yeshivos and Bais Yaakovs do not care to listen. Many schools are privately owned and every school has their budget, has their payroll, have their needs and would rather drill their parents into their graves then to do any major fund raising. It seems the system shifts the burden onto the parents and will not broaden their own shoulders to carry the weight.

Think about this: Reb Elchonon traveled the world to raise funds for his Yeshiva, So did Reb Aron as did all other true Gedolim even up to today where we all learned of the Mesiras Nefesh (literally) of Reb Nosson Tzvi Finkel ZT”L. Think about it? The Mir has thousands of people and if everyone does their share, then on paper it should work. But the great Mir Rosh Yeshiva understood that not everyone can pay and nobody should EVER be turned away or made to feel bad because they don’t have the funds to pay Schar Limud. Rather this giant of a man rose to the occasion and said I WILL DO IT! IT IS ON MY SHOULDERS! He could have maxed out when he filled the Mir building but no, he built more and more and took on more and more never dumping his responsibility on the parents.

How about the Lakewood Roshei yeshiva Shlit”a? You look at the Frum papers each week and begin to wonder…Are they EVER home for Shabbos??? Do they ever get a rest? Baltimore, LA, Chicago, Monsey, 5 towns, Brooklyn and even all over Lakewood week after week, why? Because they too understand that this is our Moisad and therefore with that comes the responsibility that we have to carry the burden. It is our Yeshiva therefore our Achrayus.

We all know the problems but nobody seems to have the solutions.

I do!

It’s one word!


Let’s look at this and we will see there is a real solution if everyone is ready to take this seriously.

1 – Schools have got to start to trust their parents. Yes some are fooling you and pay less then they should but overall the majority of our parents are good people who don’t want (or like) to made into shnorers. Parents hate begging and we hate having to undress in front of you. Trust us and we will work with you. Beat us up and we will hate you today and probably forever so you’ll never see more money today nor will you ever see any down the road.

2 – Parents have to look at their tuition break not as an obligation for the school to cover but as an obligation on us to help raise those funds. We the parents can work it off by doing things for the school, we can create projects, we can get our network of people involved with whatever we want if we would just care enough to do it. (Hundreds of men attended the Q in Flatbush. Why? Most of them have no idea who they were supporting or writing their checks out to. They came because a few chevra made it exciting 5 years ago and then built on it and built on it and built on it. They worked it and the result is hundreds of people show up and give money.)

3 – Rabbonim must begin to give regular (and mandatory) Shiurim to their Kehilos on Hilchos Tzedaka. The men, the ladies, the parents, the grandparents anyone and everyone must be taught these important Halochos. Not Hilchos Maaser (although that too is important). I am talking Hilchos Giving. Hilchos Priorities. Hilchos Responsibilities. Does Chai lifeline come before Hatzoloh? Does membership in Shul come before Lev Lachim? Does Masbia come before Misaskim? Does Talmud Torah come before Pidyon Shvuim? Does Shuvu come before Bonei Olam? Does Lakewood come before Eretz Yisroel. Or how about his crazy question…Does your relatives Schar Limud come before anything else? What is Aniyay Ircha? We need mass Shiurim and private lessons on Hilchos Tzedaka to set us straight.

4 – STOP PUNISHING THE KIDS!!!! Give them their report cards. Let them take their finals. Don’t ever ask them to ask their parents for the tuition checks. Don’t let them know anything ever ever ever about their parents finances or Hanhogos with the school. All you do is create a larger separation between you and the parents and even worse you make children think less of their parents. You may make children worry that their parents are poor or thieves or cheaters or liars or any other wild idea that can go through a child’s mind. Please stop using your students as bait or pawns in your collection game. Leave the kids out of it and we will feel less threatened and we will want to help you.

5 – Show us your books. You have nothing to hide and it is certainly true that you need the funds you are asking for so why not show us so we can help you? We may have ideas. We may feel more of a responsibility. Yes we may have questions, but by answering them and accepting us as a partner we will respond accordingly.

6 – We teach it and we need to live it – Ve’ohavta Le’rayacha Kamoicha. This is a 2 way street and shockingly to some it also applies to parents and administrators. Both sides need to think first if what they are about to say, about to ask or about to do to the other is something they would want someone to do to them. Parents – how would you feel if in business someone was cutting corners and squeezing you out of money you felt you deserved for the service you were providing. After all, in business we are entitled to a profit so why would you care so much if someone was cutting into the money you are asking for? Schools Administrators and or board members and or tuition committees – imagine if you were in this spot and think how you would feel if you were summoned with your tax returns and 20 page forms and asked to sit and spill your guts and share your private finances with strangers? Did it ever occur to you that perhaps there really are real reasons why someone needed to get away or needed to go to the bungalow or needed to send to camp etc. Not everything is nor should it be your business. If we are friends then friends want to help each other but if we are on 2 sides then we won’t trust each other.

7 – Feel the pain. If you have it share it. Get involved. Make a difference. So many great slogans or tag lines but are they for real? The answer is yes they are and they should be. Grandparents, your attitude makes a difference. Relatives, your attitude makes a difference. Neighbors, your attitude makes a difference. Gevirim, your attitude makes a difference. Middle class, your attitude makes a difference. Administrators, your attitude makes a difference. Parents, your attitude makes a difference. If everyone, no matter who you are, would look at the tuition crisis as a true investment into the future of Klal Yisroel. If everyone, no matter who you are, would try to make a difference in the Chinuch system. If everyone, no matter who you are, would truly believe that the Chinuch of our Tinokos shel Bays Rabon is the greatest and most important facet of Klal Yisroel’s existence, then maybe, we will finally be Zoche to the Siyata Dishmaya the Chinuch System needs to sustain itself.

The truth is there is so much more to write and so many more examples to give but this letter has to end at some point. Hopefully every reader is getting the drift.

As I said before, in the end it is all about one word. Attitude.

If the parents AND the schools adjust to an attitude of wanting to work together. If the community adjusts its attitude on the value of educating our children. If families adjust their attitudes about who and where to direct their funds to, then in the end this can work.

Parents must give everything they can and stop depending on the schools.

Schools must fund raise (for real) and stop killing the parents.

We all must get back to working together to create wonderful children learning in schools with happy Rabbeim and teachers and then coming home to homes where the parents are happy and there for them. We must all treat each other as brothers and sisters always looking to help the other. We need to knock down the walls created by the Saton and turn this bitter crisis into a harmonious system of Chinuch.

You may feel that it boils down to whose responsibility is it? Does it fall on the schools since they have to pay their bills or does it fall on the parents since they have to educate their child? Well, maybe, just maybe it is all of ours together. The parents need to do everything they can to pay their tuition and the schools need to do everything they can to fund raise the deficit without going back to their parents. When everyone does their job and cares about the other then this crisis will be fixed.

Let us all remember the words of the great Chofetz Chaim when asked why Yeshivos need to turn to others for assistance. After all HKB”H is the Mechalkel Chaim and can provide everything for everyone so why then does it seem that Mosdos Hatorah are forever having to come on to the Tzibbur just to exist. He answered that the system will always be one where those learning will have a Chaylek in Torah and those supporting it will have their Chaylek in Torah. Everyone needs a Chaylek in Torah to survive. Either we are the ones in Yeshiva learning or we are the ones supporting.

Be happy the opportunity is coming your way. Be happy that your hard earned dollars are investing into the future of Klal Yisroel. Be happy the funds you provide are building bricks into your home in the Oilam Hoemes for that is where you really do want to have the biggest home possible.

If we do this together we will succeed. If not, then………

A Parent


The Matzav Shmoooze is a regular feature on that allows all readers to share a thought or analysis, long or short, one sentence or several paragraphs long, on any topic, for readers to mull over and comment on. Email submissions to

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  1. How is it that tuition in schools like Satmar is less than $2,000 a year? Can other schools learn anything from Satmar as to how to keep costs low?

  2. Excellent article.It does boil down to attitude and approach.My sons’ yeshiva acts like a corporation in their tuition process, with those demeaning forms and committees. By my daughters’ high school, the process was much simpler. “What can you pay?” That was it! Plain and simple trust!Bli neder, when I’ll be in the position to help my children’s schools, it will be this one, the one that treated me with respect, that will get my help.

    As an aside, I would propose that anyone who was never in the position of being forced to ask for a tuition reduction should not be chosen to sit on tuition committees, humiliating and alienating the poor parents.

  3. I think this is the most well informed and insightful article that I have read on this topic EVER!
    As a parent who is not a gevir I found the points accurately portrayed 100%.
    I hope that we can come together to solve this “crisis” for the benefit of all.

  4. I am a grandparent who at present is trying to figure out how much tuition that we can help with for the coming year. BH, we have been blessed with grandchildren so we can only give modest help to each school aged grandchild. We feel more obligated to help our grandchildren who live far away than to help unrelated children in our neighborhood who have their own grandparents to ask for help from.
    What really bothers me is the excess materialism that exists in frum communities and is expected and tolerated. Money exists for important causes such as chinuch but we have decided that expensive jewelry for kallahs, Pesach in hotels, and designer baby clothes are more important. At the same time, those high end sheitlach and pricey baby prams are usually sold by Jews who give donations to yeshivas so it is not entirely money down the drain.

  5. I am greatful that you took the time to write such a well written article about such an important topic.
    If one reads through the entire article one can see how careful you were to make sure to cover all areas, some more direct than others.
    Yeshivas, Mesivtas, Bais Medrash Programs, Girl Schools and Seminaries, for the most part, (not included are those that are part of a Chasidus) are BUSINESSES, nothing more nothing less. Their product happens to be Chinuch. They made the investment they want to make the reward. (OLAM HAZEH)
    The same way Matzho Bakeries, are in business to make money, and one can go elsewhere if they don’t like the prices, so too are most private schools.
    People speak of community schools, there are too few of those, to speak of.
    How can you tell its a business ??
    Since the OWNER CAN NOT BE FIRED !
    Once we accept that fact, we have only one choice.
    In the name of Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz (ZTL),
    the community must OPEN MORE SCHOOLS.
    NO ONE Can tell The Current Owners how to run their business.
    The Rabbonim, that you look to for advice and guidance are doing the same in THEIR SCHOOLS.
    THE PROBLEM WITH TUITION IS THAT IT IS TOO HIGH. THE owners will tell you “if you don’t like it go elsewhere. WHERE ???
    The next Owner also TAKES as MUCH as he can.
    Shiurim about Tzadakah ?????
    Give Shiurim on how to open schools.
    Competition is good for BUSINESS.

  6. To the school you say “Show us your books. You have nothing to hide… so why not show us so we can help you?… Yes we may have questions, but by answering them and accepting us as a partner we will respond accordingly.”

    And about the parents you say “…if you were summoned with your tax returns and 20 page forms and asked to sit and spill your guts and share your private finances with strangers?… Not everything is nor should it be your business. If we are friends then friends want to help each other but if we are on 2 sides then we won’t trust each other.”

    Does anyone notice what I do????

  7. #5-show us the books is most important. Schools are run without any accountability and inefficiently. They know that they have the parents captive and can raise tuition as needed.

  8. “Parents hate begging and we hate having to undress in front of you. Trust us and we will work with you. Beat us up and we will hate you today and probably forever so you’ll never see more money today nor will you ever see any down the road.”

    BINGO! Hit the nail on the head! Excellent excellent points! A hostile environment is created & thats not what is supposed to be. The Torah is Diracheha darchei noam. No need to make enemies with the administration & have to avoid them at Simcho’s, Shul, store etc…

  9. i dont see any of these upset parents helping out to raise funds for the yeshivas they just want the full responsibiltiy to be on the menahel or rosh yeshiva why is it the yeshivas responsibilty to come up with tuition money for hundreds of talmidim??

  10. Interesting that this only applies to Boys Yeshivos. The Girls Schools (at least the ones that my daughters go to) don’t give any break what so ever! Pay in full or come take your daughter out of school! Cold, Heartless! Not the way a FRUM school should operate! I am told to go fund raising in order to raise the money. How can I do that? I B”H work full time. When should I do it? At night, instead of sleep! Like you say: I undress in front of them every year! I show them EVERYTHING! Show statements, the whole 9 yards! Not hiding anything! My wife works part time as we B”H have a baby at home. What more can I do? Parents & Inlaws is not nogaya. They told us: WE DON”T CARE! We have such a bad taste in our mouths. I don’t blame the administrator! He has a most difficult thankless job! Tephilla Tephilla & more Tephilla. Thats the only Eitza!

  11. Thank you for your on mark artical.

    Let me preface that I do not work for a school and I am a parent strugging to pay tuition.

    That said, you ask the “Schools have got to start to trust their parents”. Yet many parents have to decide between tuition and sociatal obligations. Such as: Your wonderful Bar Mitzva boy NEEDS a $200 Borsolino. The school has a problem understanding why you can’t come up with $200 monthy check, but the Bar Mitzva hat yes?? Why is it that people must be given a serious break in their tuition bill, yet they are supporting their children with $1,000 – $2,000 per month. And everyone is claiming that there is just no money for tuition. But for all of our society’s neuonces there are. And yet tou say “Schools have got to start to trust their parents”.

    I agree with you that most parents work well with the school. The school where I send my kids are very gracious, and when I think of all the expenses that it cost the school, I cannot begin to fathom how they manage to stay afloat. Yet I haven’t been forced to hand over my tax returns, or declare what type of car I have (that someone gave me for free), or go through, what has been described as “tuition committees”. But then again, I live out of town. And there is a ATITUDE that, between all the schools,every child gets a frum education. Everytime that I hear if stories IN TOWN of children with no school to attend, I thank Hashem for creating OOT!

  12. I am wondering if anyone in the matzav world can help me on this one. My child is enrolled in a local school for the coming year. When i asked about a break, the administrator said, respectfully, i dont give any breaks at all. If you can’t afford it, there are plenty of other schools that cost way less. Does anyone have an answer to this question?

  13. Dont agree with this article. More than ever we need quality Rebeim, who deserve not to live in poverty when they are Moiser Nefesh for our kids. Until you see Rebeim well paid, that will be a sign that tuition is being paid accordingly. No school tries to be cheap with their Rebeim. Likely it is the parents who have the attitude problem.

  14. No new info here. Rabbi Dr. Schick has been saying for years that Tzedakas should be second to yeshivas for community support. Rabbi Lefkowitz correctly says people are too busy mortgaging their homes for kitchen remodeling. I’m in Brooklyn right now, which is 3/4 empty. I thought these people have no money to pay tuition, let alone to go on vacation??!! Action speaks louder than attitude.

  15. #14 – You make an excellent point with regard to coming up with monies for support or Simchos. It boils down to proper hadracha. What comes first tuition or making the Bar Mitzva boy happy (or sholom in the bayis)? What comes first tuition or supporting your married children? GREAT questions. Parents may feel one way and the school may feel the other. It needs Halachic guidance. It should not be up to us. Our Rabbonim should decide. If they say tuition first then pay it. If they say tuition not first then they should be strong and call the school on your behalf. We must ask not decide.

    #9 – You may have missed the point. Both sides need to be open and honest. Both have to show more respect. Each side needs to open their books. This is about HOW it is done. The schools cannot just show a spreadsheet and then ask the parents to fill out long forms asking all kinds of private information. For example: If the school lists a line item called salaries without sharing how much each Rebbi or teacher is making (and they should NOT have to share that private information) then why do they get to ask for a detailed explanation on how you spend your money? If a Menahel feels a Rebbi is worth more or needs more shouldn’t that same Menahel realize that some parents also have needs?

    What hurts the most is that my reply here to you comes across as if there are 2 sides. Us and them. Uch! It needs to become 1 side working together. If my brother was suffering financially and came to me for help I would do everything I could to help him. I wouldn’t embarrass him or make him feel bad or make him prove anything to me. If however, I felt I may be able to help him with his spending I would respectfully (with careful words and lot’s of love) ask him to share with me some of his financial choices and discuss with him why he chose to do this or that and then after trying to put myself in his shoes I would offer a soft suggestion on how maybe it would be better for him to do things differently. But I would always want him to know that I am doing whatever I can only out of love and respect for him.

    As the article says, it all boils down to the attitude we have.

  16. #17 – Who decided that tuition comes before fixing your home or going away? Maybe the school needs more money so they can remodel and paint and fix thier building. The school can but the parent can’t? Many of our Rabbeim and teachers (who live in Brooklyn) are also away for the summer. They can go but the parents can’t? If you are making these decisions then that’s not fair to the system and you have to adjust your attitude.

    If Rabbonim were consulted and these people advised that they should go away or they should redo their kitchen then let them live.

    It cannot be up to us to decide. We are Nogaya Bedovor. It cannot be up to the schools to decide for they are Nogaya as well. So who should decide?

  17. What is more important, the late model car or the yeshiva tutition? The 3 months in the bungalow or the yeshiva tuition? A new 2500 sheitel every year and a half or the yeshiva tuition? Divorcing parents paying their respective lawyers $5000 a piece for the $1000 chandelier or yeshiva tuition? Pesach in Crete or Yeshiva tuition?

    People accumulate significant consumer debt for their luxurious lifestyles but will not do the same for tuition. I agree with the author, it is all about the attitude.

  18. “Think about this: Reb Elchonon traveled the world to raise funds for his Yeshiva, So did Reb Aron as did all other true Gedolim even up to today where we all learned of the Mesiras Nefesh (literally) of Reb Nosson Tzvi Finkel ZT”L. Think about it? The Mir has thousands of people and if everyone does their share, then on paper it should work. But the great Mir Rosh Yeshiva understood that not everyone can pay and nobody should EVER be turned away or made to feel bad because they don’t have the funds to pay Schar Limud. Rather this giant of a man rose to the occasion and said I WILL DO IT! IT IS ON MY SHOULDERS! He could have maxed out when he filled the Mir building but no, he built more and more and took on more and more never dumping his responsibility on the parents.”

    These gedolim were collecting for yeshiva gedolah and kollel not cheder.

  19. Why am i paying $20,000 for seminary? make the cheshbon x125 girls $2.250.000 10 teachers @ $50.000 Apt rentals or Dorm $350,000 Food $300.000 Tyulim $100.000 employees $250.000
    Grand Total $1.500.000 I’m in the wrong Buisiness

  20. Until our Rebbeim and teachers are paid what they deserve and can live as comfortably as any other professional, I will not put the blame on the schools. Parents and community members have to change their attitudes. No school is a business, no school is out to make money, they need to meet payroll and yes, the schools that pay better salaries, get the better teachers and rebbeim. We should be lining up to raise the salaries for our mechanchim so that we reduce the problems that face our kids.

  21. The financial board of directors of the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland took on 2.4 million dollars of scholarship debt last year and raised every penny. These are people very dedicated to the school and the community and they give from their own and work hard to raise the funds needed so that any child who applies can have a wonderful Hebrew Day School to attend. They will not want their names mentioned, but I will say that the financial office sees that the staff are paid on time and that the school runs within it budget while always coming forth when extra funds are needed for smaller learning groups and special needs.

  22. In response to #23, did you cheshbon in the electric, water and gas bill? What about the security bill? The maintenance crew, dorm counselors, trips, toilet paper etc….. Administrators, principals, teaching materials, school construction, liability insurance, teachers health insurance, transportation, etc,,,,, I work for a mosod, and the list keeps going on and on.

  23. I don’t work for any school.
    To all you complainers!
    I have to pay my childrens tuition even though I’m not employed but thats not the schools problem, it’s my problem. Maybe the grocery should also go collecting for me so I can buy food for Shabos and not pay for it. If you think it’s such a good business then go open a school yourself. Nobody asked you to send your child to seminary if you don’t have the money. My sisters didn’t go to seminary and they B”H all got married. I know of more than ane Yeshiva that closed down because they couldn’t pay bills. Schools don’t have to show anybody their books. It’s a private institution. It’s none of your business if thier making millions. If you don’t like it change schools. If you don’t like any school then open your own school. You’ll be fundraising the rest of your life to make up for all the people who don’t pay tuition.

  24. Here is a way to help the situation .
    No girl should marry someone who will need support from her father as long as full tuition isn’t being paid. This will free up a huge amount of money for tuition .
    Explain in the chasan classes, the duty to support the family is yours,it’s in the ?????. When your children have to go to school your costs of living will include tuition . Lower the cost of tuition by having large classes of at least 25 or more and each has to pay the full amount of between 3500-4000.

  25. Simple solution- only send the kids you can afford to pay for to yeshiva (private school). If you have more children then they should go to public school, which is tuition free. You’ll still have as large a family as you’d like, and no tuition worries.

  26. To Mr. Stop complaining #28:

    “I have to pay my childrens tuition even though I’m not employed”

    Oh really! Then how are YOU paying? Please enlighten us as to your strategy! I see you have all the answers! The fact that you’re out of work doesn’t suprise me! Who would hire you?

  27. I’m an Executive Director at a yeshiva/school for quite some time and I have seen it all. Yes, we do ask for private details and we keep it private as well. No, we do not have to open our books to the parents – if it’s a quality school the parents see where their money is going to. At the same time, the process has to be respectful! There’s no reason to humiliate anyone applying for financial aid. Our Board’s mandate is that our school is for anyone who can carry the program. We, therefore, will offer all applicants the opportunity to apply for financial aid.

    The writer’s “attitude” that the yeshiva has to raise the scholarship money is quite hypocritical! Why should the yeshiva raise money for your tuition reduction? Why shouldn’t you raise the money for the Yeshiva? His ending where he states that the responsibility belongs to both the school and the parents is more on the mark. My experience has been that most parents are fair and try to pay what they can. We do, however, have our fair share of those who want breaks and live on a very high standard. In those cases we have to refuse them aid or give them very small breaks.

    And to those who are up in arms about having to reveal what kind of car you drive, etc. – YES – it makes a huge difference if you are driving a leased car for upwards of $600 or if you have a used car that’s not an Alexis or BMW or Mercedes!! Why should someone who’s paying full tuition and donating to the school for scholarships pay for you when you drive luxury cars????

    And to the small minded person who said the “Rebbeim are in the country” shame on you. Most of them are working in camps and/or bungalow colonies and breaking their backs because otherwise they would not have bread to eat! Some schools pay their teachers over 10 months only. And no Teacher or Rebbe is ever, ever paid enough!!

    Why is Mayim commenting on Seminaries? Where does it say that your daughter has to go to Israel? If you can’t afford it, send her to a local Seminary. Remember, Hashem is the one Who is mezaveg zivugim!!!

    And to Emes – “never dumping the responsibility on the parents???” Hello, it is the responsibility of the parents to “teach their children” – not the schools! Teachers and Rebbeim should starve and you should sit back and let the yeshiva raise your child’s tuition. Some nerve.

    “Oy Vey” you are so off the mark. YES, tuition should come before remodeling, etc. Your “attitude” is wrong and not very Toradig!

    Shloime has it right. As long as the Rebbeim are so underpaid – that means that the tuition that you parents are paying is not enough!

    There are many parents who work at 2 jobs or more so that they can pay a respectable tuition and they are zoche to see lots of nachas from their children.

    May we all be zoche to see nachas from all of Klal Yisroel’s children and may we be zoche to see the coming of Moshiach soon.

  28. #34 – Executive Director

    I just checked in on this post since i had a miserable and offensive dealing with my daughters school. I read what you wrote and I now see why parents don’t like schools.

    Nowhere do you write anything that even hints to your understanding of what parents are going through. Your entire post is defensive and with an elites attitude. You can do no wrong and we can do no right.

    I will leave the others who you attacked to respond for themselves. I will respond to what you wrote about my comment.

    You claim my attitude is wrong and not Torahdig. Well my friend, please re-read what i wrote. I did not say remodeling SHOULD come before tuition. I questioned why the Yeshiva can ask for money (ie building fund) to remodel but I the parent am not supposed to fix my house.

    Either way, It is clear from your post that the writer of this article got it right. Schools wont budge.