LOUISVILLE, KY (February 2, 2017) – A new Covenant Scholars pilot program will provide 0 percent interest loans to 10 North Park Theological Seminary MDiv students a year over the next three years to cover tuition costs, it was announced at the Midwinter Conference.
The total loan each student receives will be for $26,000. No interest will accrue while students are in school or after graduation. Each Covenant Scholar agrees to raise $5,000 from partners, which will be due upon graduation. After that, recipients will pay no more than $250 per month for 84 months.
Many seminary students graduate with significant debt and have a difficult time paying it off because churches are unable to pay them high salaries, studies through the Association of Theological Education have shown.
To be eligible for the Covenant Scholars program, students must live on campus and expect to complete their studies in three years, said Paul Hawkinson, ECC treasurer and executive director of finance.
Students may apply for the scholarship once they have been admitted into the seminary. Minimum requirements are a 3.0 undergraduate grade point average (or equivalent life experience), professional references, and the endorsement of a church. Financial counseling will be provided as part of the program, and there will be limitation on any additional debt students can take on during the program.
In addition to reducing student debt, Hawkinson said, another primary goal of the program is to increase the number of students who attend the seminary.
“I am glad that we continue to find ways to help those who feel a call into ministry grow into that call,” said Dan Pietrzyk, the ECC program director of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders. “The cost of a ministerial education has risen exponentially beyond what other educational pursuits cost. It is a real financial sacrifice to step forward. Finding ways to help is essential if we are to nurture the next generation of leaders.”
Three years of study have gone into preparing the structure for the program, which is being entirely funded by the denomination and National Covenant Properties. During that time, developers have drawn on information gleaned through the Lilly initiative as well as well as multiple studies done by the Association of Theological Schools.
For more information or to nominate a Covenant Scholar click here.