When I initially encountered Greg Henson and David Pohlmeier’s new infographic on what incoming seminary students bring with them, I found myself gravitating toward the financial data. The data used to generate the graphic comes from surveys completed by 6,900 incoming students at 161 ATS schools during the 2011-2012 school year. Among the findings:
- 51% of all incoming students enter seminary with educational debt (the image at right shows the debt load of those who enter seminary with educational debt),
- 1 in 10 incoming students enters seminary with educational debt exceeding $40,000, and
- Since 2001, the percentage of students entering seminary with educational debt exceeding $25,000 has increased 143% .
While a great deal of conversation of late has focused on issues relating to the cost of seminary education, it is important that any such discussion include data about educational debt BS (Before Seminary). When students graduate from seminary and begin earning income, increasing numbers are burdened with significant levels of debt that was incurred while attaining both undergraduate and graduate degrees.
- How do you think the rising cost of education and increased student debt BS (Before Seminary) will impact the decisions of those who may be considering a seminary education?
- What, if any, role should your local congregation play in educating prospective seminarians about the economic realities related to attaining a seminary education? in advocating for reform in the cost of theological education in schools affiliated with your denomination?