New students at Frankel Jewish Academy can now apply for four-year merit-based scholarships.

Courtesy Frankel Jewish Academy

With multiple sources of funding and donations, Frankel Jewish Academy (FJA) created the Frankel Merit Scholars Program, a four-year, merit-based scholarship available for the 2019-2020 school year for up to 15 new enrollees in grades 9-12.

Eligible students should be exceptional leaders in academics, athletics, arts, community service or in the Jewish community. An anonymous committee will determine deserving students who will be offered $20,000 scholarships for each students’ tenure at FJA for a total of up to $80,000 per student. Current tuition is $25,000 per year.

All new students who already have applied for the 2019-2020 school year will be considered for this pilot program. Eligible recipients can be from any grade level, Jewish background or any school — if they are new to FJA.

“This is something we’ve been exploring for several years,” said FJA Head of School Rabbi Azaryah Cohen. “[The goal is] to make an FJA education affordable to mission-appropriate and highly capable students. Students who we believe will be leaders and who will demonstrate that an investment in Jewish education pays invaluable dividends for our local and global communities.”

Increasing enrollment also plays a role. For comparison, enrollment for the 2015-2016 school year was 220 students. This academic year, the school had 146 enrolled, with a senior class of 43. So far, enrollment for the incoming freshman class will be in the mid- to high-20s, about what it was last year, Cohen said.

Although neither Farber Hebrew Day School in Southfield nor Hillel Day School in Farmington Hills have merit-based scholarships, Cohen noted some day schools do in New Jersey, Connecticut, New York and California. FJA leaders have been studying information and initiatives in a report issued several years ago by UJA Federation of Toronto, and have been following the San Diego Jewish Academy, which instituted a half-off tuition fee for children entering kindergarten and ninth grades, which are considered transitional grades.

“In thinking about the innumerable design options a program like this can take, we also took into consideration the success of other initiatives, factors that shape our market and the students who would thrive given an opportunity like this,” Cohen said, adding that merit scholars will participate in leadership training opportunities.

The merit program will not affect the school’s financial assistance program. Shana Kantor, FJA director of advancement, said students receiving merit scholarships who still need help with the balance of the tuition can apply for financial aid.

How have parents of current students been responding to the new program?

“I have had nothing but positive responses from current parents in the school,” Cohen said. “I think people understand that a program like this will benefit everyone in the school and the greater community. Families who receive the scholarship and are fortunate to be able to afford tuition will, I believe, increase their contribution to Jewish education at FJA.”

Application deadline to be considered for the scholarship is July 1. Frankel Merit Scholars will be announced July 15. To apply, go to frankelja.org/scholarship or contact Arielle Endelman at aendelman@frankelja.org.

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