Paying for Seminary

Undoubtedly, prayer and deep thought has led to your decision to enroll in seminary. You have already determined that a theological education is important to further explore and to equip yourself to respond to God’s call in your life. Financing your education was not likely a primary factor in your decision to go to seminary.

However, it is important to answer the question of how you will finance your seminary education. Costs for tuition and living expenses have risen, and most students now borrow during their seminary years, adding to the debt from their undergraduate studies. Too often, students face serious financial struggles in their post-seminary years, which leads to unhealthy stress for them and their families for many years beyond graduation.

The financial decisions you make before you enter seminary will have repercussions for your future. The good news is that debt can be managed. There are steps you can take to minimize your debt and to better ensure that financial concerns do not become a burden:

  • Create and live within a budget.
  • Consider living expenses as well as tuition and other fees.
  • Avoid credit card debt.
  • Talk with a financial aid officer at the seminary.  
  • Talk with a financial mentor.
  • Borrow only when really needed.
  • If you take out loans, consider the best repayment options and low interest loans.
  • Work part-time while attending school.
  • Compute how much loan repayment you can handle on your estimated salary. Repayment should not be more than 8% of your annual income. Debt in the amount of $30,000 with 4% interest will require a salary of $45,000 to pay back in 10 years. Debt in the amount of $70,000 will require a salary of $106,300 to repay in 10 years.*
  • Consider age and stage of life and how close you are to retirement, and what you will need.
  • For whom are you financially responsible?
  • Take into account cost of children’s education.
  • Consider part-time ministry rather than full-time ministry.
  • Inquire about grants and scholarships including those available through the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s Office of Loans and Scholarships.
  • Consider postponing seminary if projections indicate that you will have more debt than you can repay after graduation.

*From www.auburnseminary.org. Used by permission. For additional information about these steps and for resources about financial planning, loans, and scholarships, visit the Auburn Theological Seminary website.

Visit the Loans and Scholarships page for information about loans and scholarships available for United Methodist seminarians and students.

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