The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) recently convened a meeting of the participants in the Economic Challenges Facing Future Ministers project (ECFFM). ECFFM is aimed at addressing student debt in theological education, and Greg Henson, president of Sioux Falls Seminary, shared a presentation at the event. He's since published his presentation on his blog.

Though Henson's presentation doesn't include sound, I gained some great insights by simply reading the presentation as it progresses. Here are the two slides that struck me as especially important: 

  • Students who attend for free can still borrow $20,500. “We have created a pathway where even students receiving 100% tuition scholarship are able to borrow $20,500 each year.”
  • Rising credit = rising tuition. For every $1 increase in loan availability (credit supply), tuition rose by 63 cents.

Read Henson's full post here.


What is ECFFM?

Funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., the Economic Challenges Facing Future Ministers (ECFFM) initiative began in 2012 and is supporting projects at 67 ATS member schools. The project include research into financial issues facing students, development of new strategies for decreasing financial burdens on students, creation and strengthening of educational programs in financial literacy for pastoral leaders, and the creation of new partnerships to address these issues.


Even schools that are not ECFFM participants can benefit from the project. ATS has made dozens of resources available, including data and reports, student debt strategies, and financial literacy programs. Many of these resources come directly from project participants and contain valuable information that you can put into practice at your school. You can access the resources here

Other readings and resources on student debt in theological education 

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Image credit (ladder):  Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho.