A Reader Writes: I Am Not Making It Either

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readers-write3Dear [email protected],

I was called to my son’s cheder to talk about tuition. I was directed to the administrator, who informed me that he would be raising my tuition since, in his words, “You are working in Manhattan and making a nice salary.” (I’m already paying more than most people, as they won’t give me breaks because I’m not learning.)

I tried to explain to him that I am indeed making $61,000 as a computer consultant, but after deducting my work-related expenses, I don’t come out with much more than others. He disagreed with me, and claimed that my salary is a lot higher than what many others earn. And so he deduced that I should pay more.

 We started discussing the matter and he told me that his salary is $25,000, and that the yeshiva works out his payments so that he is still eligible for government funding. I then explained to him that he makes a lot more than I do. I pay $6,000 in transportation costs a year to get to and from Manhattan, plus another approximately $5,300 for social security, federal and state taxes. (This was a low estimate. I think it’s going to be higher.) I pay another $8,500 for medical insurance. After deducting all these expenses, I am left with $41,200.

 He receives approximately $14,500 in HUD, $5,800 in Earned Income Credit, ($4,800 federal + $1,000 state), plus $1,700 in WIC, and $2,100 in HEAP (for utilities). Additionally, his insurance is free (Jersey Care). This leaves him with over $49,000. (This amount is reached even without including other programs, such as free school lunch programs, etc.) This is a lot more than the $41,200 that I make. This calculation also doesn’t include food stamps, because he didn’t volunteer whether or not he receives them. If he does get food stamps, his total income would add up to $56,000. This particular individual is an administrator, but in the event that he was learning full-time and only receiving a kollel check ($4,160) and a night kollel check ($3,000), he would still be making more than $38,000, which is not much less than my $41,200. (This calculation does not include another few thousand dollars possibly earned from morning kollelim, shemiras hasedarim, etc.) To top this all off, I end up paying much more in tuition because I don’t get any breaks.

 Add to this the fact that the hours that my wife can work are limited, as she has to carpool the kids and be home with them after playgroup and school hours, since I’m not home until 7 at night. In contrast, this administrator told me that his wife works until later in the afternoon, because he is home between 2 and 4 and takes care of all the carpools and babysitting until his wife returns home from her job.

 At the conclusion of this discussion, the administrator told me that he still feels I should pay a higher amount towards tuition since I work. 

 I am not writing this letter to complain about people being able to manage with the help of government programs. I just want people to understand that just because I work doesn’t mean that I am walking away with more money. In fact, I have the same problems paying tuition as any kollel yungerman may have.

A Yungerman Who Now Works


  1. that is why many yungerleit cannot afford to leave kollel.
    Just because one works does not mean that they are raking in the bucks!!! They have to give an accounting for any dollars that are made.

  2. I can relate to this issue as well. Expenses skyrocket for the working among us as programs are cut, scholarships cease to exist, discounts become scarce etc.
    There are also additional expenses due to the work requirements which include travel, meals and even more cleaning help at home.
    Perehaps people should place themselves in your shoes before they jump to conclusions.
    The concept of taxing the middle class so the poor can live respectfuly is not the most popular idea out there nowdays.

  3. While it’s true some kollel guys rather not leave because they make more money than working, that’s in the short term. When you start working, you might “lose” money by going off programs, but after a couple of years, you make more money. Depending on your proffesion, that would be your ceiling. With lots and lots of help from Hash-m!

  4. This article was written very well. and very much to the point. People look down at working people and only milk them for their money which in this economy many don’t have. Learning people deserve and Boruch Hashem get a lot of respect – but the zevulins in life should not bee looked down upon and taken for a ride.

  5. Is it so crazy to say that people should work for a mere 6-8 a day or on a part-time basis to make the bare minimum to support their family??? Is it considered a lack of emunah for one to work half a day, then come home and learn seriously for as long as he can??? Where are our ideals???
    Does anyone have an answer?

  6. Thank you for printing this letter. I couldn’t agree more with it.

    The average man working in Manhattan has to wake up at about 6. On his short lunch brake he has to find a minyan to daven mincha. He gets home late, is exhausted from a long day at work, and then goes out at night to learn.

    And then after working so hard and barely covering all the daily expenses, to speak to others and find out that he is on all these programs, getting all these things for free, (while being supported by parents and inlaws) AND not having to pay tuition?? It’s just not right.

  7. I spoke to a woman recently who said she carefullly calculates how much money they earn and will not work more hours purposely to avoid making too much so as not to lose their gov’t programs. Their children see their father Bein Hasidarim and in the evenings. The mother works minimally and has time to spend with her children. Yet, with all their programs, they are comfortable. My husband hardly comes home due to working VERY hard and I am overstressed, overworked and a tired mother taking care of my children mostly alone to allow my husband th ability to work. Sometimes I wonder if my husband should work part time and have more time with the family. Government programs will just pick up the tab and cover the difference. I will be calmer and your taxes will go up. Ok?

  8. You were called to the school?

    Maybe the school should have come to you.

    What I am trying to say is that it is time for the menahalim of mosdos to have more derech eretz and consideration for people who are working bikdushoh. I am not sure who is the bigger person in G-ds eyes.

  9. the system is broke(n) just because the money is needed and deserved does not mean that the working person has the ability to pay it.in order to pay the “required tuition, a person with a sizeable family would need to earn 2-400,000 a year. it is not realisitc. expenses have outpaced incoe proportionally in a very drastic way.So please recognize that while a solution is needed, putting families into this kind of liability could well cause people to buckle from the stress.I have watched wealthy people sit on boards and make deamands then when their personal finances fell apart, so did they. I wanted to ask them if they felt any regrets for the stress they put people through

  10. I couldn’t agree more with the writer. We are in the same boat. I see my peers on all the programs while my husband and I work our selves to death. And the schools keep hounding us for money for our 2 kids while their 10 kids go for free. Explain this to me. It is really getting to me, I am sick of going into the administrations every year and having to give them my detail budget, down to how much toothpaste and toilet paper we buy. Forget about every taking a vacation or visiting family out of town. The schools won’t permit it. They want an explanation for everything. Like it is any of their business, will they show me their budgets? How about the addition on the administrators house, who paid for that – Me – and my increased tuition!

  11. Can I make a suggestion to the moderator? If you don’t like something that I wrote in my post then don’t post it. But please don’t change my post around without my permisson. Thank you.

  12. I don’t think that it matters how someone is getting government funding but more so the why.
    Regardless of how you make your money, whether you learn and get paid to do so, or you work at a regular job, if what it costs to send children to yeshiva costs more than what you bring in, you are going to need help. My husband and I both work and let me tell you, we never got one dime of help from the yeshiva or the government. We are both regular working people. I am in social services and my husband is in finance but not a wall streeter.

    I will tell you what bothers me more. You have people in the Buharian community that own businesses and homes and don’t pay one red cent cause they claim they can’t afford it. They threaten to take their kids out of yeshiva if the tuition is not paid for..you know what? The rabbeim give in and you know who has to pay full tuition, WE DO!

    How is that for fair?


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