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Paying for your Theological School Education: Resources for Keeping Student Debt as Low as Possible

Andover Newton provides a list of funding resources that students have used to supplement the types of aid the school provides. That list is below. In addition, this fall we will launch a "Financial Resources Virtual Library" on this page.  Here you will find a variety of sources that will help you with financial planning and money management, as well as sources for various kinds of scholarships and grants.  All grants and scholarships have different deadlines and require time to write, so please plan ahead! Although it takes time to do this work to support your education, it can be well worth it.  Some Andover Newton students have dedicated a certain number of hours/week to pursuing outside funding, and as a result were able to graduate without debt.  So these activities can make a huge difference, but they require dedication and persistence!

Ideas for Generating Monetary Support for your Academic Work
(Many recommendations came from Andover Newton students)

1. Ask churches for assistance
2. Ask family and friends for help. Send a prayer letter to friends and family—one student did this to ask for prayer support (and $ if they felt so led) and raised $5,000. (Tip: Include a SASE!)
3. Research foundations
4.  Boston Public Library research room
5.  Inquire with your denominations—for example,
 a. ABC matches gifts from your church up to $1,000 annually (Rosemary Turano has information)
 b. UUA
  i. “Living Traditions” fund helps grads pay down debt
  ii. Web resource:
  iii. UUA offers minority grants for those in candidate status
  iv. UUA also offers debt reduction and scholarships to people in candidate status (application due in April). You can write Chris May at for more information.
  v. At aspirant status UUA offers a $950 grant to pay for testing.
 c. UCC:
  i. They have a March deadline for scholarships, have to be in care.
  ii.  Board of Ministerial Aid (a separate entity from the UCC), UCC offers Post-seminary debt relief.  To be eligible for these funds you must have received a call and thus be ordained and in a church.  Some grants have been as much as $7,000 and are for seminary debt relief.  For questions contact Association Conference Minister (MA) Rev. Wells at
d. Northern Baptists (for ABC students): applications due early September, interviews late Sept-early Oct, $500-$1500 awards.  Rosemary will send out notice when she gets applications.
6.  Upon graduation negotiate for help with monthly loan payment.  Many churches will pay part of your monthly loan payment if you ask for help.
7.  Contact your work place for assistance—one student had a class paid for and she didn’t work for a religious organization.
8.  Many community organizations have scholarships, and not just for high school students going to college (Elks, Rotary, Masons). Andover Newton students have received small grants.  The Elks deadline is often in the fall.  Direct your inquiry to the “Exalted Leader.”
9.  Eastern Star has a simple application process
10.  Newton & Brookline Libraries have grant/scholarship info
11.  MS/Diabetes Foundations often support local people with small grants
12.  Local credit unions often offer $100-500 scholarships
13.  Ask churches without seminary students to adopt you as theirs.
14.  Web sites can help you search for scholarships and grants:
 a. offers a wealth of information about finding and applying for scholarships& grants:
 b. Another web site with vast info on scholarships is:
15.  The Schumaker Foundation offers a scholarship to support seminary students.  The Divinity Scholarship is open to all Christian Seminary students that plan on full-time graduate or undergraduate study. Minimal qualifications include a GPA of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) and a strong desire to pursue the Christian faith. Schools must also be accredited by The Association of Theological Schools. Scholarship recipients receive a non-renewable $1,000 annual award towards tuition. The application form may be found at:
16. has a list of scholarship possibilities for seminary students:
17.  UPS offers $3,000-4,000 in tuition assistance for part-time employees
18.  The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty offers various grants and scholarships, see:
19.  The Baptist Communicators Association offers $500 awards for seminary students, which may be renewed annually.  The application is due in early December.  See:
20.  Other On Line Resources:
 a. Fund for Theological Education, programs and fellowships primarily for racial/ethnic theological students, and Calling Congregations
 b. On-line searchable data base of scholarships and grants for theological education
 c. A panoply of free on-line tools for student loans, mortgages, credit card debt, etc.
 d. : Useful information on student discounts, credit card savings, budgeting, etc.
 e. Financial planning tools and information
 f. All things financial aid – loans, scholarships, savings, military aid, calculators
 g. Information on government subsidized loans
 h. Extensive information on different loans, tips on saving money and budgeting, higher education tax breaks, and managing student loans
 i. This GTU site has an extensive list of scholarships for theology students, and they welcome all students to use it.  If you check out one site—this is it!
“Donate to my Theological Education” button built into your signature—one student does this
Another student has a “donate” button on her blog site, and another has one as part of her signature (See: Sandra Summers, Click HERE to donate to my Theological Education )
22.  Do a “direct ask” to people you know.  One student did this in the fall of 2001 and the woman she asked agreed to support her with $10,000/year she was in seminary!
23.  Alumni Associations, especially from small schools without their own graduate programs, often support their alumni when they go on to graduate degrees.
24.  A woman entering a convent had to be debt free to join the order. She had 9 months to rid herself of $17,000 in student loans.  She created a web site called “Support Katie’s Habit” with an explanation and “donate” button and paid off her debt in 6 months.

Please Note: Although we try to keep these links up to date, if you notice that something is incorrect please notify Dean Nancy Nienhuis at

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