The following represents the guidelines of the Northwest Yeshiva High School in regard to applicants for tuition assistance for their family.
The Tuition Assistance Committee (TAC) consists of the business manager and 3 or more persons appointed by the President of the Board of Directors. Each appointed member is anonymous in order to promote objectivity.
No, except in the limited sense of helping new applicants take the necessary steps to apply. The Head of School is not involved in the decision making and is not informed as to the decisions reached. The Head of School has no input or influence on the decisions. Board members (except if they are on the school’s TAC) are likewise not involved.
The Samis Foundation has graciously agreed to coordinate the work of the school’s TAC. Linda Sullivan is a Certified Public Accountant and is the Director of Finance for Samis . She does the TAC work as a part of her job description. She helps in securing required information from applicants and in coordinating with FAST in regard to all applications. She has an advisory role only with the school’s TAC decision making.
FAST is a commercial company that crunches numbers for approximately 1,200 private schools and colleges throughout the country and deals with about 50,000 families requesting tuition assistance. Since the system works with so many families it has the ability to compare a vast number of family situations. This minimizes the risk that a family will be treated in an unfair manner and enhances objectivity.
(a) The “science”/overall summary
(i) Income (all sources of income)
+ Imputed Income (income assumed from (NetWorth-200k)*4%)
Living Allowance: (roughly 29k per family+ 3600 for each child, medical expenses, daycare for 2 working parents, bar/bat mitzvahs or weddings expenses(limited to 5k) are manually included in this number from my review of application)
Housing Costs: (Mortgage or rent + property tax + insurance + home owners dues)
Utility costs: Gas, electricity, heating
Insurance: (Health – unlimited, auto-limited to $2,600, life – limited to $1,500)
Taxes: (Federal and Local, excluding property)
Social Security Tax: (computed from income noted in application
Allowed Savings: (limited to 4% savings from income noted in application)
Total Income – Total Expenses = Income Available for Tuition (all schools, all children) The question is “Does the process assume all discretionary income is to be paid in tuition?” – Yes, this computation assumes that while on reduced tuition, discretionary income is paid in tuition.
The TAC does make adjustments for Jewish living but with certain limits, described below.
The school allows an expense of $5,000 for bar and bat mitzvahs and weddings. It is realized that these events usually costs more but that they can be done for this amount. It is considered discretionary expenses beyond this level. The idea is that it should not be the school budget that suffers when a family incurs larger expenses, in essence asking the school to subsidize the event.
None. This is incorporated into the FAST formulas and the amounts the school allows for living expenses. All parents are encouraged to contribute to the Samis Partnership by contributing to the school in recognition that tuition covers only a small portion of the total cost of educating each child.
If both parents work then reasonable day care expenses are considered a family expense. Likewise, summer camp is treated to be the equivalent of day care. Only an amount equal to the costs of local day camps and overnight camps are considered. If a family chooses a more expense camp (for example, to Israel or out of state) that is considered a discretionary expenditure and is not considered beyond the charges for local camps.
Net assets are considered to be a source of economic resources available to a family to help pay for tuition. The TAC allows for a net worth far in excess of the average net worth of families in the US. We allow for $200,000. Many of the families have no net worth or minimal assets. This includes equity in real estate, savings accounts, investments, retirement accounts. For amounts above $200,000 our formula considers 4% of it to be income.
No. Full tuition will be assessed until full documentation is provided. This includes filling out in full the FAST application and providing all required documents such as the previous year’s Federal tax returns, including returns of all business entities in which the family has an equity interest. In the case of divorces parents this will usually require a copy of the decree of dissolution and the settlement agreement so that the TAC can understand the obligations of each parent in regard to educational expenses of the children and the expenses/income relating to child support and maintenance. In the case of capital gains the TAC may require more detailed asset information.
Generally by the time families make their financial assistance applications the only returns available are for the previous year. An application made, for example, by the deadline of January 31 of each year requires the tax return for the previous year. Thus the tax information is a year plus a few months out of date, i.e., not updated for the school year in which the assistance is requested. All tuition reduction decisions are explicitly tentative pending receipt of the current year's tax returns, because it is understood that the FAST application requires the parents to estimate their current financial situation. Since all returns are required to be filed by October 15, more than a month and a half into the current school year, that is also the deadline for providing the school with the return so that adjustment can be made to the tuition assistance for the current school year.
The school has a policy of re-evaluation if a family's financial situation deteriorates during the school year. The TAC encourages parents to give the TAC the opportunity to adjust the charged tuition downward. The school also requires a family to inform the TAC when the resources available to the family improve during the year. Examples are bonuses, capital gains, inheritances, major gifts and so on.
If a family does not inform the TAC of improvements in financial situation, the TAC will re-compute what the tuition should have been for the year in which assistance was provided and add it to the current year’s tuition.
Such expenses are not usually considered. Such expenses are considered to be a matter for normal family budgeting which is included in the allowances for living expenses.
Yes. The school’s minimum tuition is $500.
There is no formal appeal from the decision of the TAC. There is a reconsideration process by which a request can be made to the Board of Director’s Designated Trustee. This person is a Board member whose responsibility is to act as a conduit between the TAC and the applicants to help in the communication process. During this process the families are encouraged to submit additional information and to seek clarification of the decision making process. The Designated Trustee is the sole conduit of communications between the TAC and the family in this reconsideration process.
Yes. When it is obvious that the information submitted, including tax returns, is inconsistent with life style, further explanation will be required. The same is true when there is an inconsistency between previous years’ applications and the information submitted in previous years. The TAC has available all applications previously made.
When a family application notes that children are in more than one school, they should fill out only 1 FAST application but name all of the applicable schools. FAST provides the information to all of the named schools. It confuses the system when more than one application is submitted. The TAC does not have access to the applications for post high school tuition assistance or scholarship applications but may ask the family for those applications and documentation.
These are situations in which the TAC understands that estimated income is hard to predict. The family should do the best it can but then submit updates periodically to the TAC so that tuition levels can be adjusted during the school year. This must include information on both improvements and reductions of expected income.
The TAC will endeavor to make the same determination it makes for all applicants—to determine what is available for tuition. We will require submission of copies of the child support and maintenance and other financial provisions required to be filed with the court in dissolution proceedings. We understand that expenses must be adjusted to support two households.
Our own faculty members are not charged tuition—it is part of their employment contract. Faculty of other Samis beneficiary schools are treated the same as other parents except accommodations are made is some cases when there are teachers in both schools who have children both schools. This is not done by the TAC but in direct dealings with the employment committees of each school.
Their financial situation is fully assessed in the same manner as all other parents. The TAC does take into consideration situations where clergy have an IRS obligation greatly reduced because of parsonage allowances available to them.
All parents are encouraged to help the school in whatever capacity they can. The TAC does not give special consideration to parents who help the school. The TAC considers the financial situation of each applicant.
The information and documentation is deleted and destroyed when the family no longer has children in the Samis beneficiary schools.