We can’t afford a Gesher education…Wait, maybe we can!
Did you know that 60% of the students attending Gesher receive Tuition Assistance? One of the most common misconceptions we hear in the Jewish Day School field is the idea that you have to be “rich” to be able to afford to send your child to a school like Gesher. Many families that would be a great fit never truly consider the idea, since the default assumption is that they can’t make it happen, even though they are aware of the school and may even understand the significant added value when compared to a public school education. Furthermore, Northern Virginia has several outstanding public school systems including Falls Church, Loudon, Arlington, and Fairfax, and many families move here with education as one of their clearest priorities and factors in the decision about where to live. Getting them to truly consider Gesher requires a “big shift” in thinking.
Gesher outperforms these school systems on ERB tests annually, and of course offers much smaller class sizes as well as a number of other differentiating advantages. But when your financial planning included saving for college and not private school, the idea of revisiting your finances to even imagine additional significant dollars going toward elementary and middle school education sounds unrealistic.
Families living in these counties surrounding DC are typically not living below the poverty line, and another prevalent misconception is that only those with very low income would receive aid at a private school. That may be true at some schools, but not here at Gesher. The chart below offers an indication of the likelihood for a family to receive aid, and is based on Adjusted Gross Income and number of children. We raise hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to be able to offset tuition for as wide a range of families as possible, because we know how hard it is to live in the area, save for retirement, and still have a quality of life that feels worthwhile.
Our Tuition Assistance process is sensitive and ethical, offering families privacy and anonymity and carefully ensuring that once you are in the school, you can afford to stay in – we know that transitions are not the goal for the children we enroll. The Northern Virginia Jewish Community has been very clear about their values with regard to the Jewish Day School – they give generously so that we can serve as many children as possible in our region, regardless of financial concern. We tell applicants that we never want finances to be the reason that someone who wants this education and is an academic fit doesn’t enroll, and we mean it.
We understand that it takes this “big shift” for a family to give real thought to sending their children to a Jewish Day School, and families in our area are making it each year. Our Parent Ambassador program includes a number of families who thought they would never leave the local public school, and when they learned more about what a gift a Gesher education truly is, they made the shift – please let us know if you want to hear from someone who has been through this process themselves.
I’m sensitive to the fact that not every family belongs in a Jewish Day School or at Gesher JDS. However, I believe that many of you out there have no idea what you are missing – the academic, social-emotional, and ethical launchpad you can truly afford to offer your children may really be within your reach! There are other questions to answer, we know – just look for future blogs featuring information about logistics and transportation (did you know it only takes 35 minutes to get here on our vans from Arlington or Alexandria?) as well as the ever-popular “too Jewish for us” (did you know that 40% of our families do not affiliate with a synagogue, and a similar percentage are households with one Jewish parent and one non-Jewish parent?).
Wishing you a Happy Chanukah and an early Shabbat Shalom,