New York’s state budget includes tuition grants for college students attending some private religious institutions, including Orthodox rabbinical schools.
The money is available as part of the state’s Tuition Assistance Program, under which any theological student who meets certain criteria, including attending a three-year program at a tax-exempt institution based in New York, can be eligible for the grants.
The institution also must be eligible under federal law for Pell grants for undergraduate study; the program does not exclude students studying for the rabbinate.
Some 5,000 men who attend dozens of Orthodox rabbinical schools in New York stand to benefit, according to The New York Times, but most rabbinic seminaries accept only students who have completed college.
Some New York State lawmakers have tried for the last 10 years to eliminate the program’s ban on state tuition assistance for college students who attend yeshivas that are not state-chartered, according to the Times.
Opponents say the provision violates the constitutional provision of separation of church and state.