Are you planning to pursue theological education?
If so, you are considering an educational journey that promises to be full of excitement and hope and faith. Yet, as you consider this journey, it is important to ask some “down to earth” questions. The reality is that a majority of students need to borrow money in order to pursue theological education. In the past few years, it has come to light that an increasing number of students in the United States are graduating from seminary with debt and that some who graduate find the task of repaying loans difficult. Some find the level of debt can impact their ministry after graduation. The good news is that students can manage the costs associated with theological education by making informed decisions regarding finances. At Lexington Theological Seminary, we take the problem of student debt seriously, as do many other seminaries. We hope that LTS students will avoid debt, or at least to keep it to a manageable level. We also hope that students integrate their financial decisions with a sense of stewardship that will help them to flourish in ministry after graduation. Financial aid counseling, as well as academic courses and other resources are provided to help students make informed financial decisions.
Description of financial counseling process:
The Director of Financial Aid uses three resources in her financial counseling with students who are planning to borrow money. She asks them to watch the video, “Student Loans and Seminary Costs: How to keep from mortgaging your future” (http://www.auburnseminary.org/Resources-for-student-financial-planning), and use it to inform them as they complete both a student household budget and a post-graduation budget (access to the video and the budget forms prepared for this purpose are provided for the students). Students schedule an appointment and meet with the Director of Financial Aid after they have completed the budgets to discuss the next steps in borrowing funds. In this meeting, the Director of Financial Aid also discusses with students any current student debt they bring to seminary as well as the estimates of monthly payments which will be needed to repay their debt after seminary.
The video, “Student Loans and Seminary Costs: How to keep from mortgaging your future”
For help with calculating monthly loan payments: http://www.finaid.org/calculators/loanpayments.phtml.
- Student Household Budget – (an interactive document to allow students to develop their budget)
- Post-Graduation Budget – (an interactive document to allow students to develop their budget)
The Director of Financial Aid keeps copies of the budgets the students have prepared and may find them helpful in
future conversations with the students regarding their financial aid decisions.
Making Seminary Affordable:
Our students tell us that earning a degree from LTS is very affordable. The seminary offers scholarships to offset the cost of tuition. Additionally, degree seeking students may apply for federal financial aid (see below).
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ Masters level students are eligible for a 50% tuition scholarship if they are Under Care/In Discernment in their home region. This scholarship does NOT apply to students at the doctoral level or to any student not earning credit.
Lexington Theological Seminary degree seeking students who are attending at least half-time (2.5 credits per quarter) may elect to obtain Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans. Our goal is to help you keep your educational indebtedness as low as possible. Average salaries of clergy nationwide suggest that students could manage to repay $28,000 in loans without significantly affecting their standard of living. A conservative approach to borrowing can be a realistic way to finance a significant portion of your theological education after all other financing options are exhausted.
Under Department of Education regulations, all graduate student loans are made as unsubsidized loans. All loans will carry a 1.069% fee. Interest will begin to accrue on all loans disbursed, from the date of disbursement. The current loan interest rate is 5.31%.
A student who wishes to apply for a Direct Loan should submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to the U.S Department of Education after having completed their federal income tax return. Only students planning to borrow a Stafford loan need to submit a FAFSA. The FAFSA web site address is http://fafsa.ed.gov. The federal school code for LTS is G01971.
Once a FAFSA has been submitted the student should contact the financial aid office, via email, to inquire about their loan eligibility. Borrowers will also need to complete a Master Promissory Note and Entrance Counseling before funds may be disbursed.
By law, you may not receive aid in excess of your demonstrated financial need or cost of attendance. You should borrow cautiously and only request those amounts absolutely essential for your educational expenses.
For additional financial aid and scholarship information contact Windy Kidd (859) 280-1237, or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress:
In addition to all Lexington Theological Seminary academic requirements, recipients of Federal Stafford must meet the following standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) in order to establish and maintain eligibility for assistance from the program:
- Successful pace by completion of at least 80% of all coursework attempted. Pace is measured by dividing the cumulative number of hours successfully completed by the cumulative number of hours attempted.
- Attempted coursework is defined as any course in which a student is enrolled at the end of the 100% refund period
- Successful completion of coursework is defined as receipt of a grade of A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C,C-, D+, D, D-, or CR if a course is credit no credit course.
- Unsuccessful completion of coursework is defined as receipt of a grade of F, I, W, or NC.
- Credit hours officially accepted in transfer and specifically applied toward a student’s degree program are counted as both attempted and completed hours.
The limit of attempted credit hours and minimum cumulative GPA requirements are as follows:
Degree Program Attempted Hour Maximum GPA
Master of Divinity 114 2.30
Master of Arts 72 2.30
Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies 72 2.30
- Repeated coursework is counted as many times as the course is repeated in the computation of total hours attempted.
- Courses that are assigned an incomplete grade are included in the cumulative hours attempted but cannot be used as credits earned toward progress standards until a successful grade is assigned.
- Satisfactory Academic Progress will be reviewed after each enrollment period. Financial aid already offered for the following enrollment period(s) may be canceled if academic progress is found to be unsuccessful during this review.
- If progress is determined to be insufficient during the review process, students will be placed on Financial Aid Warning status. Students will receive written notification when placed on Financial Aid Warning status.
- Students on Financial Aid Warning status will be eligible to continue to receive federal financial aid.
- If satisfactory progress is not made during the semester while on Financial Aid Warning status, eligibility for all future aid will be terminated. Students will receive written notification of termination of financial aid eligibility.
Financial Aid Eligibility Termination Appeal Process:
A student who wishes to appeal the termination of financial aid eligibility will be required to submit a written appeal to the Director of Financial Aid. The written appeal must state why the student failed to make Satisfactory Academic Progress and what has changed in the student’s situation that will allow the student to demonstrate Satisfactory Academic Progress at the next evaluation.
Appeals May be Based on The Following Circumstances:
- Personal medical condition impeded progress; written statement from student’s health care professional or other documentation required.
- Death or life-threatening medical condition of immediate family member; written statement from health care professional or other documentation required.
- Student experienced extraordinary situation or problem which necessitated professional intervention to overcome; statement from health care professional or other documentation required.
- Other extenuating circumstances prevented achievement of academic progress; documentation required.
The Director of Financial Aid will review all appeals and provide a written statement as to the disposition of the appeal. Students whose appeals are accepted will be placed on Financial Aid Probation status. If Satisfactory Progress is not maintained while on Financial Aid Probation status financial aid eligibility will be terminated. A student may file one appeal of financial aid termination status.
Effects of Withdrawals on Financial Aid
Federal regulations require Lexington Theological Seminary to calculate a Return of Title IV funds on all federal financial aid for students who withdraw from all classes on or before the 60% point of the term. NOTE: If a student does not formally withdraw from courses however mid-point grades indicate all “F” grades, the Financial Aid Office will assume the student stopped attending and aid will be put on HOLD. For the hold to be lifted, the student must provide copies of attendance and grade records for all classes in question to the Director of Financial Aid. If a last date of attendance cannot be determined, a Return of Title IV funds may be calculated in accordance with regulations at the 50% point of the term. If it is determined that the student never attended any classes, the student is not eligible for aid. Any outstanding balance due to LTS or the Department of Education will be the responsibility of the student.
The institution will recalculate the student’s eligibility for federal aid based on the percentage of the term completed, return “unearned” federal funds to the federal program, and bill the student for any amount owed the institution or the federal agency. If students officially withdraw from the institution, they must contact the Financial Aid Office prior to completing the withdrawal process. At that time we will discuss the financial aid impact of early departure from the institution.