Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The $93,000 Question

The Boy willl enter Kindergarten in the fall. 
We've applied to 8 schools. 
We've been rejected from 3
2 are still pending but highly unlikely we'll get in - considering the 3 schools we've been rejected from.
1 (my top choice) is still pending but since I've made 2 calls and sent an email and haven't heard back.  I'm doubtful.
1 is still pending but it's charter school lottery.  

We were accepted into 1 - Let's call it the "Money Bags School"* 

And the tuition for the Money Bags School is $93,000 per year.  That's right, every single year The Boy goes to the Money Bags School will cost us $93,000.  The school goes up to 21 years old.  Let's do the math on that.  If The Boy were to attend the Money Bags School for the next 16 years it would cost - are you ready? - $14,880,000. And I'm not taking into account tuition hikes.  So the cost could easily (and will mostly likely) increase.

To put things in perspective.  Harvard Graduate School of Education costs about $62,000 per academic school year.  HARVARD.  GRADUATE SCHOOL.

But wait.  There's more.  More?  Yes!  More.  In addition to the tuition fees, we will need to obtain an attorney.  So that we can sue the Board of Education for tuition reimbursement.  An attorney will cost anywhere between $4,000 - $10,000.  And suing the Board of Ed ain't a one time deal.  It's every single year.   

Now the Money Bags School doesn't expect parents to pay the full tuition amount up front. To guarantee The Boy's seat, the deposit is $10,000.  

Now this is the $93,000 question - or I guess, $103,000 question (including attorney fees):



But - there is something called Connor's Funding. (<-- link to interesting blog post regarding Connors) Now, I'm not an expert** on this but this is my understanding of Connor's and how the Money Bags School exlained it to me.  If a family's total income is less than $200,000 per year, they qualify. And Connor's is something we absolutely qualify for.  So this is how it would go:
  • I can either pay for the deposit or take out a Sallie Mae loan to cover the deposit. The Money Bags school will hold off on recieving full payment
  • Obtain an attorney
  • File an impartial hearing/sue the Board of Ed for tuition
  • If we win - the Board of Ed pays tuition to the Money Bags School (anywhere between 90 - 100%).  We may or may not get reimbursed for the deposit.
  • If we lose - appeal the case and this will cost more money.  
And we have to do this every single year.  Let's do the math on this.  If we retained an attorney every year for the next 16 years at $6,000 per year and took out a Sallie Mae loan for $10,000 every year for the next 16 years.  The total would be: $256,000.  However, that would not include interest rates or any other additional fees - so let's boost up this total cost up to $350,000.  But I guess, in the grand scheme of things $350,000 is so freaking cheap compared to $14,880,000.

So the next question is: can we afford the $16,000 (deposit + attorney fees) per year to get into the $93,000 per year school? 

No.  Not unless we want to eat tuna fish and PB&Js every single day. Not unless we never want to take The Boy to a movie or buy him a toy or book just because. Not unless we cut every possible corner, because every single extra in our lives would have to go. And that makes me feel pretty crappy.  Like it's a personal failure.  Because we're not willing to make that kind of financial sacrifice.  I'm not a gambling kind of gal - and the Money Bags school will be a huge financial risk - especially in this economy where no ones job is guaranteed. 

And we need to sit down and go over the numbers again for the 100th time and ask ourselves: Is it worth the risk?

We have until the 10th of April to give the Money Bags school our final answer.

*Obviously the name of the school isn't the "Money Bags School" but on the off chance I win the lotto or have a long lost distant rich relative die and leave me with their fortune and I can afford to send The Boy here - I don't want to piss them off.  

**Again, I'm not an expert, a lawyer, advocate - I'm just a mom figuring this stuff out too.  Please do your research and consult with an attorney/advocate to see what's best for your family.  This is just my experience and beliefs.  :) 

1 comment:

  1. Tough situation. I feel for you. You've probably already written about this, but are you absolutely set against sending your son to your neighborhood public school? Perhaps this isn't an option in your area, but sometimes if you try to work with the school administrators and it doesn't work out, they will change their minds and be more open to considering other placement options without having to go through litigation. So, doors that are closed at the moment may not stay closed later. No guarantees, unfortunately. No matter what you decide, don't feel guilty over your choice. You are doing the best you can. All the best to you.


AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.