Gift supports key strategic goal for School of Theology

Posted Sep 10, 2012

[University of the South School of Thelogy] The School of Theology is the recipient of a gift from an anonymous donor of $800,000 to underwrite financial aid to an incoming student each year.

The Rev. Annwn Hawkins Myers, associate dean for recruitment and admissions, said, “This gift could not be more timely. As we actively seek to grow our student body, reducing the debt that our students accrue is one of our top priorities. What a blessing for our mission to have this additional fund to offer our prospective students.”

Much has been published in the past several years about the increasing amount of debt incurred by seminary students. On Aug. 13, Christianity Today reported that new research from the Center for the Study of Theological Education at Auburn Theological Seminary revealed the number of master of divinity graduates who borrow money is surging, as well as the total size of their loans.

In contrast, The School of Theology, due to firm fiscal oversight through the years, is in the enviable position of being able to offer all of its students considerable scholarship assistance, funding a significant portion of demonstrated need after parish and diocesan contributions.

In fact, a recent survey of The School of Theology’s graduating class of 2010 revealed that only four students left with any appreciable debt — two of whom had debt of less than $1,000.

In early 2012, The School of Theology reduced the residency tuition and fees from $18,730 to $14,980 per year for new students beginning in the 2012–13 academic year.

Tuition for the advanced degrees program (D.Min., S.T.M.) was also reduced and is among the lowest that the Episcopal seminaries offer — $414 per credit hour. Additionally, The School of Theology offers its advanced degree students generous financial aid towards tuition.

“The concern about student debt among seminarians is rising dramatically across the church,” stated the Rt. Rev. Neil Alexander, dean of The School of Theology. “It is irresponsible for us to allow persons to accumulate significant indebtedness in preparation for a vocation in service to the church. The School of Theology at Sewanee continues to work hard to solve our share of this growing challenge. This generous gift makes a huge difference toward the goal of affordable theological education for our students.”

The University of the South comprises a nationally recognized College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, a School of Letters, and a distinguished School of Theology serving the Episcopal Church. Located on 13,000 acres atop Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau, Sewanee enrolls 1,450 undergraduates and approximately 80 seminarians in master’s and doctoral programs annually. Sewanee is owned by 28 Episcopal dioceses, the only university so directly related to the Episcopal Church.