Graduation and the Cost of Seminary Education
ULS President’s Newsletter | Spring Term 2018-19
Volume II, Issue 9
“And my God will supply all your needs according to Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19.
Support for Seminary Education in a Changing Church and World
After years of large numbers of graduating high school seniors, colleges and universities are bracing for dwindling enrollments and related financial woes. Undergraduate students have long had access to state and federal grants and loans to help with growing education costs, but loans accumulate and are often difficult to repay. Now there are clarion calls from some politicians and their supporters for free college tuition for all. While this laudable request for financial relief for undergraduate students is loud and clear, no such movement is heard in support of graduate school education. Fewer and fewer grants and scholarships are forthcoming from state, federal and private foundation sources. The debt accumulated by graduate students in medical and dental schools, law schools, and business and engineering schools, is astronomical, but often graduates from these educational programs are quite able to repay such loans in reasonable time frames. It may be painful, but manageable.
Theological schools are not unaffected by this trend. With fewer college graduates and growing debt for those who graduate from ELCA and other seminaries, there is an increase in the number of such institutions searching for ways to address the high debt problems for seminary graduates and still attract new students, both recent college graduates and second career students. Unlike the secular school graduates, seminary graduates face special challenges, as their first calls may be limited because of their massive debt; thus, the likelihood is high that their first call salaries would be low and insufficient to retire their debt in a reasonable time frame.
Last month, Yale Divinity School announced 100% tuition grants for all Master of Divinity students starting with the fall of 2019. Luther Seminary is starting a special fully funded MDiv program. Wartburg Seminary and several other seminaries from a few denominations have received grants from a major family foundation to develop “3 plus 2” programs, allowing undergraduate /pre-seminary students to receive a BA and MDiv after 3 years of undergraduate school and 2 years at the seminary. ULS is exploring the creation of “3 plus 2” programs with Thiel College, Susquehanna University and Lincoln University. All of these ventures will hopefully lower costs and debt, and, at the same time, provide more rostered pastors to serve our churches in both large and small congregations, urban, suburban, and rural.
As you may be aware, ULS has been blessed with a $30 million+ gift principally designed for scholarships for our degree seeking seminarians. I am pleased to announce that ULS has developed a scholarship program that will provide 100% tuition coverage for all enrolled full-time and part-time students seeking first theological degrees (MDiv, MA, MAML, MAPL). DMin and STM students will have full coverage for two courses per semester. Students are expected to seek and utilize all available funding support from personal, familial, congregational, judicatory, and /or external agency sources. Both Residential and Distributed Learning students are eligible to receive these scholarships. Additional information about the scholarship program will be available on the ULS website and in the Office of Admissions and the Office of Financial Aid in due course.
Again, ULS is dedicated to the fulfillment of our mission to educate people to serve our Lord Jesus Christ and love God and our neighbors in a changing church and world.
Dear Heavenly Father, our Maker and Creator, we ask Your blessings as we seek to educate the future leaders of the church and the world, and for the support we have received and continue to receive from our generous donors. All in Your name and with Your divine guidance.
United Lutheran Seminary
Significant Events & Updates
May 2019 Board of Trustees Meeting
The ULS Board of Trustees will meet May 15th and 16th, 2019 on the ULS Gettysburg Campus. Students, faculty, and staff are invited to attend.
United Lutheran Seminary’s second Commencement ceremony will take place Friday, May 17th. Congratulations and best wishes to our graduating seniors!
Summer is right around the corner, which means synod assembly season is upon us. I had a wonderful time attending the SEPA synod assembly last weekend, and look forward to attending the NEPA and SWPA assemblies in June.
ULS President Search
The process for finding the next President of United Lutheran Seminary continues as we have contracted with a presidential search firm, Academic Search, and the ULS Search Committee will be working with them in the search process.