Mensch Academy Sliding Scale Tuition
Our doors are always open, really.
At Mishkan, radical inclusivity is one of our core values, and being a welcoming community means our doors are always open to everyone, regardless of financial circumstances. We understand that the full price of Mensch Academy tuition may be a barrier for some, and we want to make it possible for families to select the tuition that works for their budgets in a way that prioritizes dignity and access. This year, we are proud to offer sliding scale tuition to all Mensch Academy families.
During the registration process, families will self-select a tuition amount. Each family’s financial situation is unique, and you are the best judge of what is possible for your family. The four options are:
- Standard Cost
We expect families who can pay the standard cost without financial hardship (going without paying other essential bills) to choose that option. The standard cost tuition is in line with previous years’ tuition.
- 25% off Standard Cost
If the standard cost of Mensch Academy would cause financial hardship for your family, please feel free to pick a discounted option. This option gives 25% off the standard tuition.
- 50% off Standard Cost
If the standard cost of Mensch Academy would cause financial hardship for your family, please feel free to pick a discounted option. This option gives 50% off the standard tuition.
- Actual Cost
New this year, we are publicizing the actual cost of education. If your family can afford to pay the actual cost and feels inspired to do so, we welcome you to pick that option!
We expect that families will honor this trust and use the discount option if they cannot afford to pay the full/standard cost without creating financial hardship for themselves. We’ll never ask you to provide financial documentation or proof of income. No matter what option you pick, you will have the ability to create a monthly or quarterly payment plan. If you need tuition assistance other than what is available here, please email [email protected].
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to run Mensch Academy? How much does tuition cover?
In the 2022-23 school year, Mensch Academy will cost cost approximately $330,000 to run. Tuition generates about $170,000, meaning that Mensch Academy runs a deficit of $160,000 annually. Historically, Mishkan has covered this deficit from our general operating budget.
Why does it cost so much to run Mensch Academy?
We are committed to paying our full-time and part-time staff a competitive wage for our sector. We now have two full-time Mensch Academy staff, and seven part-time staff, the majority of whom work an average of 15-25 hours per week during the school year. These hours are used for teachers to plan lessons, receive professional development, and document the work of the students, which is essential to our responsive teaching philosophy. Documenting students’ encounters with text and their interpretations of Jewish ideas and values helps them to see themselves not just as as inheritors of a tradition, but as active players in a living culture. By empowering our Jewish learners, students are prepared to continue interpreting Jewish ideas and rituals beyond their time at Mensch Academy.
This is in contrast to many other religious schools, which employ teachers for many fewer hours, provide little to no professional development to teachers, and use mostly pre-made curricula. By paying teachers a living wage and providing regular and responsive professional development and training, we are able to consistently retain our teaching team, meaning students benefit from more skilled and experienced teachers each year and have the opportunity to build deep relationships with their educators!
How did you come up with the sliding scale levels for tuition this year?
We looked at factors like class size, teacher hours, and number of sessions per year to calculate the “actual cost to educate” each student. For the “standard cost” fees we researched what similar religious school programs cost (both in Chicago and in other major cities) in order to understand the market. Our tuition is in the middle of the ranges we found, which ranged from $1000 per student to $1800 per student for second grade. In the case of synagogues that had a lower tuition, their membership fees were actually higher than our Buildership, meaning the total cost to the families (tuition + membership) was higher by an average of $750/family/year.
Isn’t this all still kind of expensive?
In a word, yes. Supporting Jewish identity formation and confidence is a resource-intensive process! We designed Mensch Academy to be aligned with Mishkan’s values, to be responsive to what families have told us they need in terms of Jewish education for their kids, and to, well, create Mensches. This takes resources and expertise.
We are committed to not turning families away based on ability to pay, and to that end we provide over $100,000 annually in membership and tuition adjustments. The hourly cost of attending Mensch Academy ranges from $17/hour to $21/hour per student, which is on-par for many other activities and programs parents might choose to send their kids to.
What is happening to all the money we fundraised for Mensch Academy?
Those funds will go towards supporting Mensch Academy’s general operating expenses that are not covered by tuition, making improvements to the program (for example, providing classroom aides to children with special rights so that they are better supported) and making it possible for families who need it to access sliding scale tuition.
How do the “standard cost” fees compare to last year’s fees?
They are mostly the same! We are including a small increase of 3.5% to keep pace with inflation. Our Megalim cohort fees have actually decreased by $200/student based on a closer analysis of the resources it takes to run that cohort.
Do you receive support from foundations?
Mensch Academy was founded in 2015 with the support of a 3-year, $50,000/year grant from one of our foundation partners. Regular foundation support ended in 2017 and since that time, Mensch Academy has grown to 115 students. We are expecting 130+ students to enroll for the 2022-23 academic year.
Sliding Scale Tuition
We understand that the full price of Mensch Academy tuition may be a barrier for some, and we want to make it possible for families to select the tuition that works for their budgets in a way that prioritizes dignity and access. This year, we are proud to offer sliding scale tuition to all Mensch Academy families.
|Grade||Standard Cost||25% off Standard Cost||50% off Standard Cost||Actual Cost|
|Pre-K Family Cohort||$700||$525||$350||$1,215|
|K – 1st||$1250||$937.5||$625||$3,000|
|2nd – 3rd||$1450||$1087.5||$725||$2,000|
|4th – 5th||$1450||$1087.5||$725||$2,000|
|6th – 7th||$1600||$1200||$800||$2,500|
*Family Buildership is a requirement to attend Mensch Academy, however first year families can sign up at any level of Buildership. If you’re not a Builder, learn more here and sign up.