How to shrink your day school tuition bill by $163,000


When the parents of three school-age children sat down with their financial adviser to try to figure out how to minimize their anticipated private school tuition bill of $810,000 through high school, they came up with a plan that shrunk the bill by $163,000.

How’d they do it?

Well, mostly by pre-paying, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Here’s how they worked it: With tuition averaging $30,000 per year for each of their children, ages 11, 9 and 7, they figured their total bill would be $810,000 if they factored in average annual increases of 5 percent per year.

If they pre-paid, however, they’d lock in the $30,000 rate. Their adviser, Kevin Stophel, suggested they lock in only 11 years of tuition payments. For the remaining payments, they could set aside the money and out-pace the expected tuition increases with smart investments.

Stophel also had the parents establish a 2503(c) minor’s trust for each of the youngest children to allow that money to grow tax free inside those trusts.

This could be a model for day school tuition savings — for those parents who have hundreds of thousands of dollars of cash lying around to pre-pay tuition, of course.

The Mensch List: Strengthening day schools


When Al Ashley first began peeking inside Los Angeles’ Jewish day schools to review their business practices, it was partly for personal reasons: He wanted to make sure his three children would get a sound education.

“I thought, hopefully, it would be a benefit to our children, our friends’ children and the community,” recalled Ashley, 88, a Brooklyn-born CPA. 

That was 30 years ago. Since then, Ashley’s volunteer efforts with BJE — Builders of Jewish Education have blossomed into a pro bono second career helping day schools reform and strengthen their financial systems. Over the past three decades, Ashley has spent thousands of hours creating fiscal and operational guidelines that the BJE has compiled into two editions of its “Guide to Governance, Finance and Tax Issues for Jewish Day Schools and Yeshivot,” which is now distributed nationally. His work has made a profound and lasting impact on Jewish education in Los Angeles and beyond, colleagues say.

Just don’t praise Ashley too publicly (he initially shied away from being interviewed for this article). “I’ve always liked to stay in the background,” he said with a dismissive wave and a smile.

Ashley honed his expertise in money matters during a 45-year career in the entertainment industry — first, as treasurer of the Ashley-Famous Agency (now ICM Partners), founded by his brother, Ted Ashley; then, as chief financial and administrative officer of Warner Bros. television distribution operations. When he began joining his wife, Hilda, at BJE meetings in the early 1980s, he brought with him a principle upon which he had come to rely: Always do things correctly, the proper way. 

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