As many college graduates suffer from crippling academic related debts, one Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) seminary has decided to implement a possible solution.
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, a Kentucky school with around 150 full-time students, announced on Wednesday that it will give full scholarships for all students enrolled in their masters programs starting in 2015.
Patrick Cecil, vice president and CFO at Louisville, told The Christian Post that the seminary can afford to do this due to an endowment of $80 million and by capping enrollment at 130 students.
“In order to provide full tuition to all students, we will cap enrollment at 130 students and we will need to raise approximately $2.5 million in new endowment,” said Cecil.
The Board of Trustees for Louisville Presbyterian voted unanimously for the measure, known as “The Covenant Scholarship Plan,” with the hopes that it would eventually cover living expenses for students as well.
“In order to provide for living expenses for students we will need to raise an additional $15.5 million in new endowment, which we intend to do by 2021. Both of these fundraising priorities will be the key elements of the next comprehensive capital campaign,” said Cecil.
Seminary Dean-Elect Susan R. Garrett of Louisville explained to CP that these efforts were being made for seminary students “so that after graduation they can follow wherever God calls them into service.”
“It would be a great boon to the church everywhere if creative, energetic, and charismatic men and women who presently cannot afford to attend seminary or divinity school could do so,” said Garrett.
“Such graduates will be at liberty to serve smaller churches or counseling agencies, to develop new churches, or to try other adventurous (but sometimes low-paying) forms of ministry.”
The creation of a free tuition for masters students at Louisville is only the first part of a five-step strategic plan the seminary is implementing in order to better fulfill their mission statement to spiritually educate.
Louisville is also hoping to create a “Doors to Dialogue” program, which would help prepare students for interfaith and multicultural environments.
The school also hopes to expand their Black Church Studies program, create a fund to improve their information technology services, and renovate student housing.
“The ends of theological education are not on the Seminary campus,” said Seminary President Michael Jinkins in a Louisville Seminary press release.
“The ends, the ultimate purpose and meaning of everything we teach, are out there in the world. That is where Louisville Seminary’s vision is cast. Our strategic plan seeks to address the needs of the church today and the unknown needs of tomorrow, and to respond to those needs with adventurous leadership.”
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary traces its origins to the establishment of two Kentucky seminaries, Danbury Seminary in 1853 and Louisville Presbyterian in 1893. The two seminaries were united in 1901. In 1983, the seminary became affiliated with the PC(USA).