Monday, November 18, 2013

Capping the Cost of Jewish Education

This morning, the following email from UJA of Greater Toronto was in my in-box:

Innovative Pilot Project places a cap on cost of Jewish education
A new joint venture between UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, Robbins Hebrew Academy and The AVI CHAI Foundation may provide a major breakthrough in continuing to make Jewish education accessible and affordable to all.

iCAP Tuition, a ground-breaking initiative that will be offered at Robbins Hebrew Academy, will ensure that eligible families with three or more children at RHA and with a total gross income of between $200,000 and $300,000 will have their tuition capped at 15% of their income for Jewish education.

Applicable for students in Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8, iCAP Tuition augments UJA Federation’s current Tuition Assistance Program which provides financial relief to parents with a gross income of less than $200,000.

“We are excited to team up with Robbins Hebrew Academy and AVI CHAI Foundation on this exciting pilot, one that complements UJA Federation’s ongoing efforts to provide as many of our young people with a first-rate Jewish education,” says Ed Segalowitz, Executive Director, the Julia and Henry Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Education.

“Every Jewish child deserves the opportunity for the very best Jewish and secular education within the warmest of school communities, that’s what we offer here, at Robbins Hebrew Academy and it’s why we are making sure that Jewish families, no matter their financial background, can have their children educated with us,” says Claire Sumerlus, Head of School, Robbins Hebrew Academy.

It's an interesting idea. Googling the concept turned up this OU page, with a February 2013 report on use of this system at a school in the Boston area.

The core concept seems to be: To help families with large numbers of children manage, so that they don't give up on Jewish day school.

In both cases, the schools involved are not serving the Orthodox community, and I can see why an Orthodox-affiliated school, with the larger family sizes in its student body, would have difficulty implementing this and may not even feel it is as necessary. Nonetheless, it's nice to dream...


  1. This doesn't cap the cost of Jewish education--it caps the portion of that cost that must be borne by the parents. Which is an excellent thing as long as there are enough generous, wealthy donors to cover the difference.

  2. I wish them the best.

    There are a lot of articles, forums, etc. discussing the crushing cost of tuition. (I paid $49k for my kids this year.) Ultimately, the answer is that there need to be more families earning enough money to pay full or nearly-full tuition. There need to be fewer poor families that must be subsidized. So the long term fix is more secular education, more college diplomas, more professional Jews who can pay full price tuition. There is no other long term "program" that fixes the problem.

  3. I'm having trouble posting as anything other than Unknown.

  4. Unknown-
    I agree that our schools need more paying families, but I think there is a major issue on the school's expense side as well. We expect so much out of our schools, and they currently provide so little of it, that every new dollar coming in is immediately spent on a new program, which requires more money to sustain it...

  5. Ottawa is having similar financial struggles but we only have one Hebrew day school (for non-orthodox) to choose from. I prefer this ICAP program than regular subsidized tuition heavy application type programs which is unfortunately the route they have taken here in Ottawa. 20 pages forms to fill out for middle income families is just not the answer, since the middle income can actually afford most just not all the tuition. 15% cap allows families to do long term planning for their household needs (including whether even to have more children) and they can at least plan for emergencies as well.